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How Long can I Keep Makeup?

By Jennifer Fenn
Updated May 21, 2024
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Many purses and medicine cabinets are filled with makeup that may be long past its prime. While the expense of quality beauty products may motivate women to keep makeup until every last drop of lip-gloss or mascara has been used, using it after it has gone bad may risk infection and sacrifice your looks. How long a woman should keep makeup depends on the type of product, how it’s been stored, and physical indicators like a change in color, smell or consistency.

Any makeup applied to the skin can cause breakouts or other skin problems if it's held onto for too long. Keep blush for approximately 18 to 24 months. Foundation remains usefulness up to 18 months depending on whether it is oil or water-based. Oil-based foundation lasts a bit longer. If a watery top layer forms in the bottle, throw the foundation away.

Make-up worn around the eyes, like mascara and eyeliner, make a great home for bacteria and can lead to an infection of the eye. Though a tube of mascara might contain enough product to last a year or more, toss a tube after three months. To limit the risk of bacteria growth, avoid rapidly pushing the wand in and out of the tube; this traps air inside the mascara. Liquid liner can be kept for up to six months. Pencil eyeliners can last longer if they are sharpened regularly. Eye shadow maintains its color and consistency for about a year.

Makeup applied near the mouth shouldn't be kept for more than two years. Lip liners stay good the longest of any lip product and should last at least two years. If makeup, like lipstick, is stored in a hot environment, like the car, it can melt and will have to be replaced much sooner. Buy new lip gloss every 18 to 24 months.

Nail polish will often change colors or thicken when it has gone bad. Another sign that nail polish should be tossed is if the cap becomes difficult to remove because the polish has dried around it. Nail polish usually goes bad about a year after being opened.

While organic beauty products are generally healthier and more eco-friendly, they also usually have less staying power because they are made without the preservatives non-organic makeup contains. The same rule of thumb applies here. Don’t keep makeup that has changed color, consistency or smell, and don’t keep makeup that is more than two years old.

Some cosmetics companies print expiration dates on their products’ jars or tubes; check the bottom of a product or its printed label for this information. Sorting through your makeup every season is a good way to ensure that you won’t use any unsafe or spoiled products. Keep makeup that’s been around less than two summers or winters and replace anything older.

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Discussion Comments

By anon275718 — On Jun 19, 2012

I'm in the hair industry and I'm actually really embarrassed to even say this, but since I only really wear powder, mascara and blush (don't get out on the town much with the family) and am not working, I thought I could keep it a lot longer.

I recently broke out all around my hairline, neck and only in between my shoulders. I felt like a kid. So now I'm cleaning. I am disinfecting everything -- every single hair and makeup item I own. I have thrown away more then half my eyeshadow and there's so much more I should but can't part with yet.

O.K. This is too long. I had to tell my yucky story, though. Lesson learned!

By travel28 — On Aug 13, 2010

shoeshopper- Even though some makeup products are more expensive than others, the ingredients are usually very similar. If the ingredients are the same, the products will usually last the same length of time before you have to toss them out.

By shoeshopper — On Aug 13, 2010

Do expensive makeup items last longer than inexpensive, drug store makeup products?

By beachgirl05 — On Aug 13, 2010

Your makeup will last longer if you keep it stored in a cool environment. Never leave your makeup in your car on a hot summer day or in your bag when you are at the beach. Extremely hot temperatures can cause makeup to melt.

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