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When spring (or any season, really) rolls around and you have house cleaning on the schedule, pencil in some time to clean out your cosmetic bag, too. Old cosmetics not only lose their efficacy as ingredients break down, but can also harbor harmful infection-causing bacteria. For your health, well-being, and to get the most out of your skin care and makeup routine, follow this quick guide to knowing approximately when to toss old cosmetics. 

Skin Care

  • Cleanser: 1 year, give or take a few months depending on your particular formula. Discoloration, lumps, or change in odor indicate it's time to go.
  • Toner: 6 months to 1 year. Generally, water-based products do not last as long as those which include preservative ingredients.
  • Moisturizer: 1 year, if your formula contains preservatives. All-natural products expire sooner than those with synthetic ingredients.
  • Sunscreen: 3 years. Typically sunscreens are formulated to last at least this long. Some, however, expire more quickly than others. To make sure your skin is sun-safe, check the expiration date printed on the bottle.


  • Foundation, 1 year depending on whether you use a liquid, cream, or powder formulation. The less water, the longer it will last. 
  • Concealer, 1 year. You can extend your concealer's life by washing hands before use and keeping it sealed tightly. 
  • Powder, 2 years. Change in smell or cracking can indicate it's time for a new compact. Using clean applicators will extend the life of this product.
  • Blusher, 2 years. Gel or cream blushers will not last as long as powder formulas.


  • Liner, 6 months to 1 year, depending on whether you use a liquid or pencil liner. Prolong the life of your pencils with frequent sharpening. 
  • Shadow, 6 months to 2 years. Whether you use cream or powder shadows dictates the life of the product. Keep yours free from bacteria by only applying to clean skin with well-maintained applicators.
  • Mascara, 4 to 6 months. By far the shortest lifespan in the cosmetic world, mascara dries out and brows bacteria. 
  • Brow Pencil, 2 years, as long as you sharpen your pencil regularly and seal the cap.


  • Liner, 1 year 
  • Lipstick, 2 years, as long as you do not leave the product cap-less.
  • Gloss, 1 year. Avoid pumping the applicator in and out of the tube.
  • Balm, 1 year. For those contained in a pot, be sure to wash hands before each use.

When going through your cosmetics, consider changes in color, texture, and smell. Remember products containing water encourage bacterial growth and will not last as long as powder formulas. Maximize the life of your products by using clean applicators and hands. You can also prevent products from drying by sealing caps and lids tightly.

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