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I’m still unpacking from my move and I’ve been amazed at how much stuff (aka crap) I’ve accumulated.

One area in particular that was pretty appalling was how much makeup I’d stockpiled and managed to shove in my makeup drawer. I didn’t really know when to throw out makeup and beauty products so I kept them all. Here’s a picture of my overstuffed makeup drawer as evidence.


Most makeup doesn’t come with an expiration date clearly written on it, so how do you know when it’s time to get rid of makeup, beauty and those expensive anti-aging products? I’ve put together a rundown and a cheat sheet to help you figure out when it’s time to throw out makeup and beauty products by product type. Here’s the details:

  1. Anti-aging and acne products.
    Beauty and anti-aging skin products contain active ingredients that can lose their potency quickly. Some beauty product active ingredients last only 3 months. Others can last a year. Watch for a change in color and consistency, or a change in the smell of the product. If any of these 3 things have changed, don’t chance it.  Throw it out.
  2. Mascara/liquid eyeliners/eye shadow.
    Mascara can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Replace your mascara every 3 months. Same with liquid eyeliner. Those dark, moist tubes are breeding grounds for bacteria. (And while we’re talking about mascara, make sure that you don’t “pump” your mascara. Pumping only mixes the bacteria even more into the tube, and dries it out faster.) An expired eye shadow will start to get cakey and not sit well once it’s applied and will flake off easily. The best advice for products like shadows and liners that are applied so close to your eyes is “when in doubt, toss it out.”
  3. Lipgloss/lipstick.
    Lip gloss and lipsticks can last up to two years. Lip pencils last the longest since they can stay fresh just by sharpening them. You can easily tell if a lipstick is past its prime if the tube is dried out and if the consistency seems chalky when applied.
  4. Nail Polish.
    Nail polish can last from one to two years. You can tell the polish is no longer good if the consistency has changed. If the polish gets stringy when you remove the brush from the bottle or if the polish seems thicker and doesn’t apply easily, it’s time to get rid of it. To make your polish last longer, store in a cool, dry place (not the hot, humid bathroom.) Also, always store nail polish with the bottle standing upright, so the polish doesn’t seal the bottle and make it hard to open. (Here’s a post I wrote on non-toxic nail polishes to try. There are great polishes to use that don’t come with all the scary ingredients.)
  5. Foundation
    Liquid foundation makeup only lasts about six months. Powdered formulas can last up to two years. If you’re not sure if it’s worth keeping, give your foundation the smell test. If the smell seems off that means it’s past its prime. Also, it’s time to get rid of your liquid makeup if the formula is separating in the bottle.

I’ve created a handy guide of when to throw out makeup and beauty products.


And don’t forget to check the makeup you have stashed in your purse and briefcase (and car) too. Makeup and beauty products that are exposed to heat and changes in temperature, don’t last as long and can turn bad much faster.

Good luck cleaning out your makeup and beauty products stash. I hope this guide helps you get rid of some of your makeup clutter and helps you decide when it’s time to throw your makeup out too!

This piece first appeared on RoundandRoundRosie.com.

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