Clean Out Your Cosmetic Bag

Beauty Boss | The Upside Blog by

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

Out with the old, in with the new! This January mantra usually refers to unhealthy foods, unflattering clothes and unsatisfying relationships – but can it also apply to your cosmetics?

Yes. From mascara and eyeshadow to lip gloss and foundation, your makeup does have a shelf life. Here’s a handy guide to help you decide when your favorite products are past their prime:

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  • Mascara: Switch out your mascara every 3-4 months to avoid accumulation of bacteria, which could lead to infection. This practice is especially important if you use natural mascara, which is void of chemical preservatives.
  • Eyeliner: If you keep them regularly sharpened and protected, eyeliner pencils should last up to 1 year. Discard liquid products after 4-6 months.
  • Eyeshadow: Powders tend to stay fresh longer than cream-based shadows – up to 1 year compared to 6 months.


  • Foundation: If your favorite foundation is a liquid product, you’ll need to replace it approximately every 6-8 months — although a product with a pump may last longer. Pressed powders can last up to 2 years, but be sure to wash or swap out applicators and sponges often.
  • Blush/Bronzer: As with foundation and eyeshadow, powder-based blush can typically be kept longer than a cream-based products. Toss powder blushes and bronzers after 18 months, keep creams on hand for up to 6 months.


  • Lipstick/ lip gloss: Ditch your lipstick after 12 months – or sooner if you notice any buildup.
  • Lip balm: Keep for up to 18 months – if it lasts that long! Because balm can accumulate dead skin and debris from the lips, I like to cut off the top of my lip balm with a sterile knife every few weeks.

Other skincare products

  • Moisturizer: A product’s water content can affect the shelf-life–which is why you should check your moisturizer every 6-8 months for signs of breakdown or bacteria (smell, color and consistency changes can indicate contamination). Products made with pure water and natural botanical extracts are better for your skin than those that contain chemical preservatives, but they should be replaced more often.
  • Facial wash: Products that contain acids (salicylic acid, glycolic acid) may last a bit longer, but in general, you should swap out your facial wash every 6 months.

Other tips:

  • Extend the shelf life of products by keeping them tightly closed and protected from exposure to moisture and extreme temperatures.
  • Sharing mascara, lipstick and other personal cosmetic products can speed up the accumulation of bacteria.
  • Throw away eye makeup products at the first sign of an infection.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!