Determine the Shelf Life of Your Makeup

Expired cosmetics pose a health risk; here's a guide to when you should replace your makeup

Credit: Flickr / Mubina H

Know when to keep and when to toss your cosmetics

Makeup can be expensive and it’s difficult to toss it out, but expired products can cause health risks

The moment you crack the seal on a cosmetic product, bacteria get in and begin to multiply, and every time you use the applicator, you add more.

After several months, that contaminated makeup could cause eye infections like conjunctivitis or painful red breakouts on your skin.

How to Avoid Bacteria Build-up and Prevent Breakouts

Liquid products that come in contact with your eye, like mascara or liquid liner, are most at risk of bacterial contamination. Change them frequently, and never pump the container or add any kind of fluid to thin them out.

Store all makeup in a cool, dry place. Discard any products that have separated, or changed in colour, consistency or smell.

At the store, avoid using opened tester products as they may have been used by dozens of people before you. Ask staff if they have samplers behind the counter that have only been tested using one-use disposable swabs.

Recommended Length of Time to Keep Makeup after Opening

  • Liquid tints: 6 months

  • Cream tints: 6 to 12 months

  • Powder tints: 12 months

  • Mascara: 3 months
  • Liquid liners: 3 months

  • Pencils: 2 years, if sharpened weekly

  • Lipstick, lipgloss and lipbalm: 12 months

  • Brushes: Clean monthly with soap and warm water

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.