We all have it, buried in the bottom of our cosmetic bags, at the back of the bathroom drawer, sitting on a shelf in our bedroom: old makeup that we swear we’ll use again and don’t want to get rid of. It might be an ancient eyeliner, a lipstick in a color you never quite fell in love with, or an eyeshadow you just can’t bear to part with. Whatever it is, that makeup you’re holding onto does have a lifespan and it’s important to pay attention to the shelf life of your cosmetics.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have official regulations about expiration dates for cosmetics labels. But the FDA does require cosmetics manufacturers to determine an appropriate shelf life for cosmetics. Here are some of the most common types of makeup and their shelf life guidelines:
Mascara and Eye Shadow: Eye makeup has a much shorter shelf life than other cosmetics. Generally manufacturers recommend you get rid of mascara two to four months after buying it. You definitely shouldn’t try to hang onto a favorite tube by adding water or mixing it with other makeup – you could introduce bacteria into your eyes and cause infection.
Liquid Foundation: Don’t keep a bottle of liquid foundation around for more than 6 to 12 months after you open it. The foundation formula will break down over time and can even begin to grow bacteria! Watch for your foundation to smell strange or for the color to look off and you’ll know it’s definitely time to toss it.
Face Powder and Blush: Your setting powder and blush will last a lot longer than your liquid foundations. You can keep it around for up to two years! Since neither product contains water, the key ingredient for breeding bacteria in makeup, you’re safe to keep these around for a while.
Lipstick: You can hold onto lipstick and lip gloss products for around a year before you need to get rid of them. If it starts to dry out or not spread easily before that time frame is up, toss it and buy a new one. Lipstick isn’t water based, but it is exposed to your mouth over and over, which can add bacteria into the mix.
Makeup trends come and go and you may be tempted to hold onto your cosmetics until a trend comes back in style. But don’t! It’s better to buy fresh makeup than to hang onto old products that could cause skin irritation or infection.