Nothing’s worse than using an old mascara that’s been sitting in your stash for some unknown amount of time… It burns!
It can be dangerous to use products that are far past the expiration date. Here are some general tips on how long to keep certain makeup products and how to prolong their life.
Generally you can continue using mascara for about 3 months; depending on amount of use, you could possibly get away with keeping it fresh for a longer amount of time. I have about 7-10 mascaras (don’t judge me) that I cycle through each time I wear makeup. Using it on clean, fresh eyes is always best. Always wash your face before applying any makeup products, especially around the eyes. This will ensure you are not leaving any germs on the mascara wand.
Another tip is to use disposable mascara wands. Makeup artists use these while working. It prevents contamination and ensures the proper sanitation of the mascara.
If you find your mascara is clumpy, dry, or stings your eyes when you use it, THROW IT AWAY. No need to risk an eye infection. You can get very good mascaras for $7-10 at your local drugstore; my favorite: L’Oreal Carbon Black.
Powder products (powder foundations, eyeshadows, blushes, bronzers) are the easiest to sanitize and last the longest. The rule of thumb is no more than 2 years, but I have several products I’ve had for longer that are doing just fine. ALWAYS use clean brushes on your powder products. Before and after each use (depending on your preference, just after) wiping the surface with a clean tissue will get rid of the top layer and remove any germs that may have been present. To take it a step further, you can spray your powder products with 91% alcohol or Beauty So Clean, a product on the market that works the same. This will not ruin your makeup. As a makeup artist, I do this all the time and have not compromised any of my products.
Loose powders are a little different. You should be able to keep them just as along, but sanitation is going to be different. You should not spray your loose powders, as this could ruin them and it won’t be effective. Instead, use the cap as a palette and pour what you need into the cap. Don’t dip your brush directly into the loose powder.
Generally you can keep these for about a year. Anything that is gel like (eyeliner, eyeshadow bases, paint pots, aqua creams, cream foundations, blushes, and bronzers) is considered to an emollient product. To sanitize, again, you can wipe off the top layer and always use a clean brush or clean fingers. Spraying these with alcohol, however, may not have the same sanitation effect.
Pencils are easy (eye and lip). These can last until they run out, however long it takes you. To sanitize, simply dip in alcohol and sharpen.
Your liquid foundation, highlighter, bronzer, etc. can last more than a year. Having a pump on the products makes it easy to practice better sanitation. If your foundation does not have a pump, consider getting one or transferring the product into a different container. If you are unable to find a pump or separate container, try using clean Q-tips to dip into the bottle to remove product. You can also pour the product out onto the back of your hand or other clean surface (this may lead you to use too much product). You’ll know when these products are bad when they smell, start to change colors, or no longer seem to be the same consistency as when you first got it.
Lipsticks can last longer than lipglosses. I would say about a year or more for lipsticks and 6 months to a year for lipglosses. You can easily sanitize a lipstick the same as you would a pencil, dip it into alcohol and wipe. Lipglosses cannot be sanitized. You can keep them from being contaminated by using disposable lip brushes, same as for mascara. There would be no “double dipping.” Obviously, if this is your personal product, just don’t share with other people. You risk sharing and spreading germs.
Overall, your makeup can last as long as you take care of it. Always remember to only use clean brushes and only apply your makeup on a clean face. The less double dipping you do, the longer it can last.
One last important part…
When storing your makeup, it is best to keep everything in a cool, dry place, away from light if possible. Storing your makeup in the bathroom is the worst thing you can do for the sanitation and longevity of your makeup. The steam and heat that comes from showers, baths, etc can expedite your makeup’s expiration. You can even place liquid and cream products in the refrigerator to make them last longer.