Balance Your Beauty and Discard Old Cosmetics

Herba Blogger

Enjoy a balanced beauty regimen by discarding old cosmetics and beauty products.

Are you a product hoarder? Whether it’s eye shadow or lipstick, we love to experiment by trying new products. But have you looked in your makeup bag, medicine cabinet or dresser drawer lately to see just how many products you have collected? It’s time to grab a wastebasket and put some of these items to rest, once and for all. In the name of beauty we must throw away our old cosmetics before they negatively impact our appearance. Unfortunately, they don’t last forever and we have to pay attention to expiration dates.

I love to collect cosmetic products. I swear I have things that are over 20 years old, I’m not kidding. How many times have you gone to clean out your drawers and discovered that glittery, bubblegum pink eye shadow and think, “Oh, this has got to go.” But just as your hand is hovering over the wastebasket, you start to think, “Wait.” And then the crazy thoughts begin. This would be great for (insert any number of events here). Don’t let those thoughts creep in when you’re cleaning out your products. You should never use them again. They’re old and perhaps riddled with bacteria. Toss out the old cosmetics immediately.

Bacteria are not skin friendly. You can wash makeup brushes on a regular basis to remove bacteria, skin and oils that accumulate, but unfortunately the bacteria situation doesn’t end there. If you apply your makeup with a dirty brush, you run the risk contaminating the product itself. And your makeup can become a source for bacteria as well. Why run the risk of encouraging blemishes, breakouts, rashes or infections? If you have old makeup lurking in the bottom of your drawer or purse, you must throw it away immediately.

Here are some simple rules of thumb to follow when it comes to discarding products.

Wring Out Old Cosmetics, Bring on Fresh Beauty

What does the package say?

If the manufacturer has offered a best-by or expiration date, it’s there for a reason. Follow it.

If it smells bad, it’s bad

If something starts to smell a bit funky or rancid, there’s a problem. Don’t even think about it—toss it.

Changes in consistency are a sign

If your products have thickened, thinned, turned lumpy or have separated, then it’s time to part ways.

Check out the color

If something used to be blue and now it looks mossy green, there’s an issue. Changes in color are usually an indication that your products are deteriorating.

Here’s a guideline, based on average times, of when to toss your products:


It should be OK for 2-3 months, but then it needs to go. If it’s looking dry or clumpy, it’s a sign things have taken a turn for the worse.

Tip: Don’t pump your mascara, as this allows air to enter the tube which can shorten its life span even further.

Eye Liner

Liquid eyeliner should last 6-9 months, max. If you notice changes in the product, get rid of it immediately. You don’t want to be lining your eyes with bacteria.

Tip: For longevity, use pencils. They’ll last up to two years, as the sharpening helps to remove bacteria. Just remember to keep the caps on or they could easily become contaminated.


For liquid forms, the shelf life range is 8-12 months. But beware if the product starts to separate.

Tip: Look for foundations in a pump bottle. They’ll last longer, as there are no germy fingertips involved. Always be sure to wash your hands before applying.

Powder forms can typically last between 6 months to a year.

Tip: Powder foundations may experience changes in appearance and texture. They get dry, hard and can turn a bit flaky. If they aren’t performing well or if they look different once applied to the skin, then it’s time to throw them away.


We only use a tiny bit of concealer each day, so they seem to last forever. Liquid concealer can last up to a year, while powders and stick forms can last a bit longer.

Tip: If you notice the slightest change in color, consistency or ease of application, it’s time to replace it.

Blush, Bronzer and Eye Shadow

Liquid and cream forms usually can last up to 1 year, while powder forms can last up to 3 years.

Tip: If the colors are fading or they don’t look the same on your skin, there’s a problem.

Lip Products

Sticks and glosses are the most complex when it comes to determining when to toss them. Once they’re opened and used, you really need to pay attention. Any changes in smell, texture, or even taste can be an indicator that they’re turning on you. On average, a lip product under the best circumstances can last up to 2 years. But with all of the fresh, seasonal colors, why take a chance?

Tip: Be aware of any health conditions like cold sores or fever blisters. If you’re using lip products, you can contaminate them after just one application.

A few Top Tips to Remember

  • Never share your makeup with anybody.
  • Shop for smaller sizes so you’ll be sure to use them up before they go bad. They’re great for traveling with, too.
  • Beware of the heat and humidity in your bathroom. This speeds up the deterioration and contamination of your products.
  • Keep a marker in your cosmetics drawer so you can write the date of purchase on your products.
  • Make a rule to freshen your cosmetics with each new season. It’ll be fun and less painful to toss when you’re replacing with a new shade.
  • Skin irritation and breakouts? Your brushes and makeup could be the problem. Be aware of what you’re putting on your skin.
  • Use it or lose it. If you aren’t wearing it today, chances are you won’t be wearing it in a few months. Don’t be afraid to return it or toss it.

As always, the healthiest skin is the most beautiful. A healthy diet, an active lifestyle and a daily skin care regimen can have your skin looking more beautiful and youthful in no time. Then you won’t have to use all of these cosmetics. Just something to think about.

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