We all hate to do it, but sometimes it's time to throw our beloved beauty products away. Using my experience as a makeup artist and product developer, along with the expertise of several industry veterans, I've established some helpful guidelines.
Lip Gloss Wand – 12 months. Wand glosses tend to spoil more quickly than glosses in other packaging because you pass bacteria back and forth from your mouth into a tube with a small opening. Bacteria will flourish inside that warm, dark space.
Lip Gloss (all packaging except the wand) and Lipsticks – 24 months
Mascara and liquid eyeliner – 3-6 months. Just like lip gloss wands, these are particularly bacteria-prone because you pass bacteria from your eye back into a tube with a narrow opening, then back out again.
Powders –Three years for eye shadow, blushes, face powder and brow powder.
Concealer, Foundations and Cream Makeup – One to two years, depending on the formulation.
Pencil Liners – Three years.
Moisturizers, Serums, Cleansers and other skin treatments – Generally 6-12 months, but check the PAO symbol (see below for info on PAO) as the shelf life of different products will vary based on their ingredients.
Shampoos, Conditioners and Styling Aids – Generally one to two years, depending on the formulation.
Regardless of when a product goes bad, “cosmetics cop” Paula Begoun warns, “if it smells funky, looks gunky or the texture has changed significantly—definitely toss it out.”