Make-up compacts brushes lipstick on table

When should you bin old make-up? We reveal the shelf life of your cosmetics

Not sure if you should still be using your foundation? Our expert reveals when to detox your make-up bag

By Tiffany Loh, 12 January 2016
When should you bin old make-up? We reveal the shelf life of your cosmetics

Clearing out your cosmetics kit is something we all know we should do but it’s one of the things we just never manage to find the time for.

'When you use your cosmetics for the first time, write a date on the bottle so you know how long you’ve had the product'

Expired beauty products can cause skin breakouts and eye infections so it’s important to make a mental note of how long your products have been knocking around for. But how do you know when your make-up is past its best?

Kevin Bagshaw, chemist at George Cosmetics, has great a way of keeping track of items in your beauty stash that are set to expire.

‘When you use your cosmetics for the first time, write a date on the bottle so you know how long you’ve had the product,’ he says.

‘Every product is now labelled with an open shelf life time frame symbol. This shows how long the product will last once it has been used for the first time,’ he adds.

See Kevin’s tips for when you should replace your beauty products below:

Mascara: Six months

An old wives’ tale is to add drops of baby oil to your mascara when the tube is drying out but doing this will break down the preservatives in the mascara. Pumping the tube will cause air to enter your product, so instead twist and scrape the mascara off the sides of the tube.

Lipstick and Lip Gloss: Two years

Once your lipstick doesn’t glide along the lips it needs to be thrown away – leaving clumpy bits on your pout is a tell-tale sign. Always put the lid back on securely so the oils don’t evaporate and cause your lip products to dry out.

Foundation: Depends

The shelf life of a foundation varies depending on its consistency so always refer to the open shelf life time frame symbol. Over time, foundation can change colour, the formula can separate and using it can cause skin breakouts. Always shake your foundation well before use if it says so on the bottle.

Face powder and blush: Up to two years

Powders can last for two years if you keep them in a clean place where bacteria can’t get to them. To make all your cosmetics last as long as possible, store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, as products stored in a clear bottle can fade in direct sunlight.

Eye shadow: One year

Always use clean brushes to apply eye shadow on your very sensitive eye area. While cream eye shadows look great, be aware they have a shorter shelf life than their powder alternatives as the product is already moist, so bacteria can breed more easily. For the same reason, water-based eye shadow should be binned after six months.

Eyeliner: Up to two years

Your eye pencil can last up to two years but if it’s getting too soft then sharpen it and put it in the fridge to harden the crayon again. Over time ‘blooming’ may occur, when the oils in the eyeliner separate and form a white crystal around the eyeliner. The easiest way to get rid of this is to warm the product, if this doesn’t get rid of the crystals then it’s time to bin it.

Nail Polish: Up to two years

Formulas can separate and dry up over time. Once the polish starts clogging, it won’t have the same effect and should be thrown away. If the nail polish separates then roll the nail polish bottle between your hands, or give it a good shake to get rid of the separation.

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