How Long You Should Keep Makeup

If you have sensitive skin, you need to be very careful about understanding how long to keep makeup. Sometimes it's hard to throw away your favorite blush or lipstick, but it's important to weigh the problems old makeup can cause, specially to sensitive skin. Unfortunately, unlike food, there are no printed makeup expiration dates on cosmetics labels. However, there are subtle ways to tell if you need to part with them. For example, common sense tells you a sticky, goopy lip gloss that smells should be thrown away. If your nail polish is separating, it's too old.

Some makeup and skin care packaging will have a printed jar with a number followed by the letter M. This symbol, the period after opening (PAO) symbol, indicates how many months you can keep the product once it's opened.


If it does not have this label, keep the following guideline as a general rule for how long to keep your makeup, and you'll never have to look at a drawer full of old cosmetics from years ago.

  • Mascara - Mascara and liquid eyeliners have the shortest shelf life: 3 to 4 months. It's important not to pump the wand into the liquid, since this tends to increase bacteria into it. If your mascara gets dry, don't add water, just toss it. If your eye feels irritated after using it, immediately throw it away. If it smells bad, also throw it away. You don't want to risk eye infection called 'conjunctivitis' (red eye).

  • Eye or lip pencils - Any kind of pencil can be kept up to 2 years. Sharpen as needed, to keep the tip clean.

  • Eyeshadow - Powder shadows can last up to 2 years, while liquid ones, last about 12 months.

  • Liquid foundation, concealers - It's best to use an applicator with makeup. Putting your finger into a product can introduce bacteria to it. If used properly, liquid foundation can last up to a year. Bacteria love water-based makeup. You can prevent contamination by not using your fingers to apply them. Stick concealers can last up to 2 years.

  • Lipstick - As long as it's not a liquid lipstick, it can last up to a year or longer.

  • Lip Gloss - Most lip gloss are in liquid form. Their shelf life is shorter than lipstick. They can last about 6 months.

  • Blush - Makeup that is powder based, can last 18 months to 2 years. Cream blush should not be used after 12 months.

How Long to Keep Makeup

how long to keep makeup

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