Average Shelf Life: When to Toss Your Favorite Cosmetics

| Healthy Skin


If you’re still holding onto that eyeliner you’ve had since college, it could pose some potential health risks. Most of us don’t hesitate to toss anything beyond the expiration date in our refrigerators, yet many are surprised to find that cosmetics have a shelf life as well. While skincare products are not required by the Food and Drug Administration to show an expiration date, most cosmetics should be thrown out within a few months to a year.

Simply opening a cosmetic exposes the product to bacteria right away, and touching them with unclean fingers and applicators further creates bacteria buildup. Ultimately, bacteria buildup has the potential to cause infections, pinkeye and breakouts.

Face products: Three-in-one sticks are most commonly exposed to bacteria because they are applied to multiple parts of the face. Therefore, skin physiologist Peter Pugliese suggests to frequently wipe the surface of these products, and to toss them after six months. Fortunately, concealer and face powder can stay tucked away in your makeup bag for a couple of years. Liquid foundation can last up to a year if you use a clean application sponge to apply it.

(Photo: Nars)

Eye products: Good Housekeeping warns that mascara will only last up to three months because the “mascara tube is a dark, wet environment — the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.” However, mascara can stay fresher longer if you take the time to wipe the wand every few days. Eye shadows and eye pencils do not contain water, and can therefore stick around for up to a year. If you notice any crumbling, be sure to throw them out sooner.

(Photo: Bobbi Brown)

Lip products: If you notice your once favorite lipstick looking crumbly, it may be expired. While some experts advise that cleaning your lipstick with baby wipes can rid it of bacteria, others recommend tossing it after a year. Otherwise, simply throw out your lip products once you notice they have become very dry when applied.

(Photo: Mac Cosmetics)

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