Time to Toss: The Shelf Life of Your Cosmetics

Know when to keep or toss your cosmetics! They don't last forever!


There have been so many times when I am conducting a makeup application, and a client says to me, "My foundation all of sudden has been making me break out. Now I need to find a new one."

Even though it is possible that your skin has changed and a reaction may occur, most of the time it is because the product has expired—yes expired!

Many of you probably are like Wwhat? My products won't last forever?" but sorry ladies and gents—just like a condiment in your fridge can go bad, so can your liquid foundation.

To make this super easy (so easy you can just print and put on your bulletin board), I have listed the products below and next to them how long you should keep before tossing and purchasing a new one (plus some tips).

Skin Care:

  • Cream & Gel Cleansers - 1 year - creams and gels will get an odor once they've reached their expiration date, try to notice what the scent originally was so you know the difference.
  • Face Creams - 1 year - same as above, if an odor come first, toss it!


  • Concealers - 1 year
  • Pressed Powders - 2 years - This includes, face powders, bronzers, highlighting powders, etc - as long as there is no shiny buildup on the surface of the powder, your good to go! Once that occurs, it needs to be tossed.
  • Pencil Liners - 3 years - As long as sharpened regularly.
  • Liquid Eyeliner - 3 months - There is no way to clean that brush or felt tip that applies the product to your eye. If used everyday, it needs to be changed often to keep bacteria away from the eye area
  • Shadows - 3 years - Many people keep shadows for longer..just like a face powder, if a shiny film appears on the surface, it's time to be tossed!
  • Foundation (water based) - 1 year
  • Foundation (oil based) - 1.5 years - Oil based products tend to separate, so just shake up before use if it hasn't gone bad yet, that is natural.
  • Lipstick - 2-3 years
  • Mascara - Many people say 3-4 months, I recommend every month if used everyday. There is too much bacteria is on a mascara wand, chances of contracting pink eye are higher the longer you keep it.



  • Brushes - never go bad, they just need to be washed on a regular basis to maintain them - I recommend once a month, at least, with a mild baby shampoo.
  • Sponges - if used every day, I would say weekly they need to be tossed. However sponges absorb alot of product, resulting in wasting, I always recommend brushes over sponges.



  • General rule of thumb: if it stinks, toss it. Odor is a big sign if something goes bad, just like food or beverages - your natural instinct is to smell to see if it's good, do the same with makeup. Also, just like bad food can make you sick, bad makeup can lead to reactions such as blotchiness, bumps, pimples, red spots, etc.
  • "Natural" or "Organic" products tend to expire quicker do the fact that there are no preservatives - again just like food. Check out those products more often to make sure they are still good.
  • If you purchase the product at a department store or a boutique, ask the consultant how long the product should last, so you have an idea when it will go bad.


Makeup artist Heather Adessa was born and raised in Mamaroneck and has more than 10 years experience. She has gained knowledge and tricks of the trade that she wants to share with the community.

Check out her website at: www.makeupbyheathera.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Catherine Wachs March 07, 2012 at 04:24 PM
What about perfume?


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