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August 15, 2019

Makeup hygiene: How often you should replace common beauty products

Prevention Makeup

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Walking down the aisles of any popular beauty store offers endless options of colorfully packaged makeup and beauty tools, each claiming to be longer-lasting than the others. But with the accumulation of waterproof products and 24-hour color-stay commodities, makeup can last a little too long.

Though U.S. labeling regulations don’t require an expiration date on most cosmetics, they do have a lifespan—and it’s probably shorter than you think. The consequences are more cringe-worthy than a bit of clumpy mascara or oily foundation: Expired makeup can cause breakouts, infections, and even skin parasites if they hang around in your vanity drawer for too long. So before your next photoshoot or big night out, say goodbye to these common beauty products that might be past their prime.


A reliable moisturizer is the key to a glowing, youthful complexion—that is, if it’s not expired. Old moisturizer can cause an awful breakout. Finding a trusted moisturizer is a process of trial and error, but once you’ve found one that works for you, always be sure to order a replacement before your current stash goes bad. Most professionals say a moisturizer should last up to a year, as long as it’s stored according to its instruction. Once your moisturizer starts to change in color or smell, however, it’s definitely time for a new supply.


Foundation can already be tough on the skin, especially if your face is oily, sensitive, or acne-prone. To avoid clogging pores or exacerbating irritation, keep track of when you bought your foundation—especially if it’s liquid. Stored away from heat, liquid foundation can last up to a year, and should never be contaminated by fingers or double-dipping a makeup brush into the bottle. Powder foundation typically lasts longer, staying fresh anywhere from 18 months to two years. The same red flags signaling expiration of moisturizers also apply to foundation, with bad smells or discoloration warranting a new purchase.

Eyeliner and mascara

These makeup bag staples have the shortest shelf life. The eyes are extremely vulnerable to bacteria, and every time you apply and re-insert a wand or applicator, bacteria are being transferred to the tube. This is especially true for liquid eyeliners and mascara, which is why the FDA recommends replacing them every three months. Pencil eyeliner is slightly more flexible, as it attracts fewer bacteria than its liquid siblings, but should still be thrown out after a year to avoid infection or irritation.


Sunscreen is the most heavily recommended product by any beauty professional. It protects the delicate facial skin from sun damage and premature wrinkles, and it can take a long time to use an entire bottle—even with the suggested everyday use. Luckily, sunscreen has a pretty long shelf life. If stored appropriately in a cool, dry place, sunscreen can last up to two years. But if exposed to heat or left in the sun, sunscreen’s active agents can break down and alter the product’s consistency. The next time you put on sunscreen, assess its smell and texture. If it smells funky or begins to separate, it’s time to say goodbye.

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