We know you don’t want to throw away your favourite blush or lipstick, but abiding by makeup expiration dates is actually very important. Why? Cosmetics trap bacteria, which means replacing them regularly is necessary to avoid skin irritation, breakouts, eye infections, and styes. But unlike the contents of your fridge, makeup’s ‘use by dates’ are reliant upon the first day you use them, not the purchase date.
How do you know when to toss that foundation or mascara? The more moisture the product has—or the closer it comes to your eyes—the shorter its life span, once opened. Separation or changes in texture or smell are dead giveaways the product has gone bad. Or just click through our slideshow for exactly how long you can use your favourite products without worry.
Shelf Life: 6 months to 1 year
Tips: Keep your foundation germ-free for longer by keeping your fingers away from the neck of the bottle. Instead, gently drip the formula onto the back of your hand before you apply. If you notice your foundation starts to separate, it’s definitely time to toss it.
Pictured, Clinique Superbalanced Makeup ($23).
Shelf Life: 8 to 10 years
Tips: Fragrance is the longest-lasting product in your beauty routine—by far! Max out your perfume’s shelf life by keeping your scents out of direct sunlight. (Some brands, like Le Labo, even suggest storing them in the fridge.)
Pictured, Chanel No. 5 Parfum ($200).
Shelf Life: 1 year
Tips: It’s time to toss your favorite lip products when you notice a change in their texture—whether that means they dry out or get goopy. Make your favorite red last longer by keeping it in a cool dry place (meaning: don’t leave it in your hot car!).
Pictured, Nars Lipstick ($26) in Jungle Red.
Shelf Life: 1 year
Tips: Pencils last longer than most eye products, since they’re constantly being sharpened. Keep your liners away from your steamy bathroom to extend their life.
Pictured, Lancome’s Le Crayon Khôl Eyeliner ($26).
Shelf Life: 3 months
Tips: Replacing your mascara regularly is incredibly important to avoid eye infections. Switch out every three months, or sooner if you notice the formula gets clumpy or starts to smell funny, which means it’s gone bad. And, of course, don’t ever share mascara!
Pictured, Maybelline’s Volum’ Express The Falsies Mascara ($6).
Shelf Life: 3 to 4 months
Tips: Just like mascara, don’t share your liquid eyeliner, since germs are your biggest enemy in this part of your makeup bag.
Pictured, Eyeko’s Skinny Liquid Eyeliner ($16).
Shelf Life: 2 years
Tips: The longest lasting color cosmetics you’ll ever buy, powder formula blushes last around two full years!
Pictured, Sonia Kashuk’s Beautifying Blush ($10).
Shelf Life: 12 to 18 months
Tips: Toss cream blush and “multiple” sticks (as in, products you can use on your cheeks and lips) if you notice a change in their texture—and always use clean hands when applying them, to help keep the tubes and pots germ-free.
Pictured, NYX’s Stick Blush ($5).
Shelf Life: 3 to 6 months
Tips: While powder shadows can last as long as powder blushes (about two years), they should be replaced more often since they’re used around your eyes.
Pictured, Rimmel London’s Glam Eyes Quad Eye Shadow ($4).
Shelf Life: 1 to 2 years
Tip: Heat and direct sunlight will make your polish separate and become discolored faster, so store your lacquers upright in a cool, dry place.
Pictured, Deborah Lippmann’s Nail Lacquer ($18) in Flowers in Her Hair.
Shelf Life: 2 Months
Tip: Unfortunately, a pot of gel eye liner should only be used for a few months, since it easily traps bacteria.
Pictured, Stila Smudge Pots ($20) in Black.