Get The Bin: When To Throw Out Your Make Up?

Wednesday 11 April 2012

It's something we are all guilty of....Holding onto make up well past its use by date. I'm not sure if it's because we hold onto it in the hope we will like it/finally use it, or because it feels like we are throwing away money by putting the cosmetics in the bin.

Twice a year we should be throwing out old make up. Be ruthless!! If you can't remember the last time you used it, or even when you bought it, it's time to go! Holding onto it because it was the lipstick you bought for your 18th party, or it was the perfume you wore to your wedding, is pointless (even though it feels sentimental). Off make up and perfume is never good for your skin.

So other than the obvious signs (nail polish has become gluggy, make up that has become watery or like chalk, smells off and colour changes), when should we throw out make up?

On some make up and most skincare, it will have a little icon which lets you know how many months it is fine to use after opening (see picture above).

Nail polish is easy to notice that it's off. It will either separate and you will notice it isn't smooth. It can also become clumpy. 

Mascara has a 3 month shelf life, so try to only use 1-2 at a time. Mascara is something you can't share, or give to someone else, so just bin it!

Liquid foundations last between 6-12 months. Since they are water based, they are a bacteria playground. Keep away from heat and sunlight (like most liquid cosmetics) and throw out if the color or consistency changes. 

Concealer can last anywhere between 6-12 months for a liquid, to 2 years for a concealer stick. If you apply it with the wand or fingers, it will contain more bacteria and is best to throw out earlier. You can also tell it's off by its quality.  If it isn't as effective as it was previously, its time for it to go.

Powders last between 18 months to 2 years. Pressed powders will last slightly longer. 

Lipsticks and glosses last between 1-2 years. It is best to use a clean lip brush to apply, instead of using the wand/tip to stop bacteria. Make sure you don't use your favourite lip product when sick, otherwise you should throw it out.

Eyeshadows can last between 3 months to 2 years. Powders normally last longer, but because your eyes have a lot of bacteria it's best to be cautious. Make sure you apply with a clean brush, or wash hands before swatching/applying to your eye lids. If you get an eye infection, bad eye products, or throw them away to stop bacteria breeding. 

Liquid eyeliners are similar to mascara and should be replaced every 3 months. The good news about eye pencils is that they will last longer since you can sharpen them after each use. 

Depending on the type of blush you use, they can last between a year or 2. For cream blushes, you have a year to use it. Powder blushes will last up to 2 years. 

Brushes can last years if you look after them correctly. Make sure you clean them every week. Once they start shedding, it is time to bin them. Invest in quality brushes, especially for the ones you use everyday. $50 on a brush might be steep, but if it lasts for 5 years it is a steal! 

Make up sponges should be washed after every 2nd use, and throw out every couple of weeks. If you buy a Beauty Blender, they last much longer since the quality is higher.

Body sponges should be replaced every month or two. Wash them after every 2nd use, since they can contain a lot of bacteria. Especially because they sit in a steamy shower/bathroom. 

A few other things to remember...

Liquids and creams always expire earlier than powders.

Make sure you use clean brushes, or you will just keep transferring bacteria onto or into the products.

If you apply water onto a powder and it will go off quicker, for example eyeshadows.

Remember that using products that have expired can lead to irritation on the skin. Be careful buying (or doing a blog swap) of opened cosmetics. Not only can it be full of bacteria, it can also be nearly out of date. 

Multi purpose products like lip/cheek/eye tints can be full of bacteria because you are applying to your eyes then lips. Clean your fingers after applying to your eyes and then apply to your lips. Or use clean brushes. 


  1. Great info! Its amazing the collection we can build up over time, thankfully moving has made me sort through my things one too many times!

    joanne from

  2. So much info, thank you! I usually take care in what I'm using but it's good to have a general time frame! xx

  3. I'm always ruthless with my makeup, when it's too old it has to go. I always have a mascara ready for backup for when I throw out the old one. I switch them every 6 weeks.

    Thanks for a great article X

  4. Thanks for the post! I have built up such a collection, that I really need to go through all of it and sort it out!

    Sharleena xx

  5. good tips. i have to get better about cleaning my brushes.. im so lazy when it comes to that!

  6. Thanks for the excellent information! I never knew what that sign with the image and the number meant!