When To Toss Old Cosmetics

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When to Replace Old Cosmetics

My cousin Kristin is an esthetician and during a recent facial we got to talking about shelf life of cosmetics. Realizing how little I knew about this topic, I asked to her write a post on when to replace old cosmetics. Here is what she wrote!

When to Replace Old Cosmetics 

By:  Kristin Scott, Healthy Skin by Kristin

Being an esthetician, I can easily sing the praises of having monthly facials. Besides being a relaxing treat, an experienced licensed skin care therapist will use products customized to be as gentle or aggressive as needed for your individual skin type, condition and desired result.   Your skin needs to be professionally exfoliated and moisturized, just like your hair needs to be professionally cut and conditioned, and your teeth need to be professionally cleaned.

Equally, if not more important than regular facials, is your home skin care routine.

While the expense of quality beauty products might motivate you to keep products to the every last drop, it’s important to ensure the beauty products you are using aren’t past their prime.

The reason most products go bad is bacteria, which means you may be risking infection, breakouts, or other skin problems.  Unfortunately the expiration date of skin care products and makeup aren’t as easy to recognize as the expiration dates on food products.

I realize that it might be out of your budget to replace all your beauty products at once.  But you can use Tiny Oranges’ September #DailyChargeChallenge as an excuse take a few minutes to go through your existing skin care products and make-up and toss any obvious offenders.  Use your best judgment and if you think it’s time to toss it, it probably is.

A Word About Natural Products 

If the product contains organic ingredients the shelf life is generally less due to the lack in preservatives.

Although most skin care products may last a year or two, products labeled “natural” may have a shorter shelf-life because they contain less non-chemical preservatives.  If any makeup, and especially lipstick, is stored in a hot environment, like the car, it should be replaced much sooner.

Unopened products that are still sealed usually have a shelf life of 3-5 years or more, so don’t be concerned about unopened products.

The countdown starts when you open it.  Once you do open a new product, it might be a good idea to take a Sharpie pen and indicate the date so you’ll easily know in the future when it needs to be replaced.

Typical Shelf Life of Cosmetics and Skincare Products 

Blush:   1-2 years (Powder blush will last longer than crèmes)

Cleansers (creme and gel):  1 year

Concealer:   1 year

Eyeliner:  6 months – 2 years (Liquid liner can be kept for up to six months.  Pencil eyeliners can last longer if they are sharpened regularly.)

Eyeshadow:  1 year – as long as it maintains its color and consistency

Foundation:   1-2 years  (Water-based foundation will last up to 12 months;  oil-based will last up to 2 years.  If a watery top layer forms in the bottle, throw the foundation away.)

Lipstick/lip products:   1-2 years.  (Lip liners last the longest of any lip product and should be safe for about two years.  Buy new lip gloss every year.)

Mascara:  3 months (This product expires the fastest.  And don’t pump the mascara wand in and out.  You’re exposing the product to more bacteria, which can lead to an eye infection.)

Moisturizers (and most Treatment Products):   1-2 years.   Often it’s still fine to use as long as the product is not separating or looking or smelling a bit “off”.   Again, rely on your instinct and senses.  If in doubt, throw it out.

Powder:   2 years

Sponges:   Wash weekly and discard monthly.

Have any questions about when to replace old cosmetics not found in this list? Comment below and ask Kristin!

2651 Irvine Ave., Suite 148, Costa Mesa, CA  92627



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  1. 1
    jen says:

    I love the idea of putting the date of purchase on the product with a Sharpie. Just put the Sharpie in my make-up drawer! Brilliant!

  2. 2
    Dawn Antis says:

    This is great info! I am definitely guilty of keeping things for years!!

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