There are three reasons to chuck old makeup: First, anything that touches your hands and face becomes a veritable orgy of bacteria. Second, it has expired (yep, makeup does go bad—and who wants to use streaky nail polish or clumpy mascara?). Third, getting rid of old cosmetics is a great excuse to shop for more.
LIPSTICK: 1 YEAR
Image Credit: Raysonho via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
There are two exceptions to lipstick’s (or lip balm's, or lip gloss's) one-year lifespan: If you’ve had an infection on your face or if the lipstick starts to smell. If either of these things happen, chuck it immediately. Trust us—you don’t want what’s crawling around in that tube crawling around your mouth.
FOUNDATION: 6 MONTHS
Bacteria thrive in damp environments, so the wetter a product is, the sooner you should throw it out. You may be able to get a good year out of powder foundations, but creams and liquids should be in the trash within six months. To keep track of expiration dates, use small sticky labels or a permanent marker to note the date you opened each product.
EYE SHADOW: 6 MONTHS TO 1 YEAR
Image Credit: Tiffany Bailey via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
One year is the maximum, but some things—especially cream shadows or shadows you apply with your fingers—should go sooner. After a year, the shadow application won’t be nearly as good, anyway. You won’t do your face any favors by hanging on to it.
NAIL POLISH: 1 YEAR
Image Credit: Patrick Nygren via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
Say good-bye to that bin of nail polish you've been hoarding since high school, because there is no reason at all to keep nail polish after a year. It starts to self-destruct the moment you open it; twelve months out, that sweet shade will be clumpy and separated. Give it up.
MASCARA: 3 TO 6 MONTHS
Image Credit: Gregor via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
It’s best to take a zero-tolerance policy on any product that comes into contact with your eyes. Old mascara can cause both clumping and nasty eye infections, neither of which is very cute.
POWDER: 6 MONTHS TO 1 YEAR
Powder needs to be tossed after one year; before then, use your judgment. If your powder starts to smell, has changed color, or doesn’t apply the way it used to, it’s time to let it go. Also: Clean your brushes. We're not joking.
BLUSH: 1 YEAR
Image Credit: Jen via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY SA-3.0
Cream and gel blushes should be in the trash within six months. Powder blushes can go a bit longer if you clean your brushes regularly.
MOISTURIZER: 1 YEAR
Slather on that moisturizer, because you need to use up the bottle within a year. The same is true for sunscreen, which actually loses its sun-blocking properties within 12 months of opening. (You are wearing sunscreen every day, right?)
EYELINER: 4 TO 6 MONTHS
Image Credit: Liwe-photos Photography via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 de
As with mascara, it's risky to keep eyeliner around longer than you should. You might get a gross eye infection; you might not. But why roll the dice when you can just pick out a new one?