top of page


Did you know that all makeup products (and skincare for that matter) have a shelf life? Due to their active ingredients and often water content, bacteria will harbour and germs will start to spread, no thanks! It's always a good idea to have a detox of your beauty stash, keep things fresh, avoid contamination and the best bit, buy new!

SheerLuxe asked me all about it, read on and cleanse your collection!

When does mascara expire and why?

A general rule of thumb for mascara is 3-4 months, if used most days. You can tell when the mascara gets either; dry and stops depositing enough product on your lashes, gets clumpy and sticks your lashes together and/or it starts to flake and fall, thus smudging your under eye area, not a great look. Every time you pull the mascara wand out of the tube you are exposing it to oxygen which then gets trapped inside, will start to decay the formula. ‘Pumping’ the wand increases this so try to avoid doing that. This is your eye area and eyeballs we’re talking about, which are very sensitive. Risking an eye infection or even your vision being affected for the sake of buying a new mascara, just isn’t worth it.

Same question for foundation and concealer?

Take a look at the small sticker on all of your makeup products, they all have them. It will be in the shape of a pot with a number inside it which relates to the amount of months you should be using it for. For example 18M is 1.5 years. Have another look at that symbol. Note whether the ‘lid’ on it is open or closed. Open means you have 18 months to use it once you’ve broken the seal and started applying it. Closed means you have 18 months since you’ve purchased it, even if you haven’t started using it. As with mascara, the products won’t perform as well once they’re expiring. Their coverage will be patchy and won’t last very well on the skin, they may even cause break-outs. Generally I’d say 12-18months for foundations and concealers but check the symbol, some contain active ingredients and skincare benefits which could age faster.

How often should you be switching out eyeshadows/powders and liquids?

Liquid products age much faster than powder ones. A powder eyeshadow/blusher/bronzer/highlighter etc will last longer as they don’t contain water which is where bacteria harbours. A lot of liquids you might blend with your fingers, spreading bacteria from your hands into the product. You can tell when powder products are starting to expire as their pigment will be compromised. Perhaps they become more ‘dusty’ when you pick them up with your brush. An eyeshadow might have more ‘falling’ behaviour when you apply to your eyelid, a blusher might not blend as well as it used to. Again, check their labels but generally a powder product would last around 2 years, a liquid/cream one about half that. Prolong the life of your liquid products by keeping them in a cool, dark place and give them a shake now and again. Keep your brushes clean too, if a powder has a bumpy or discoloured surface, it’s time to replace it.

What about eyeliners? Do these last longer thanks to sharpeners etc?

Liquid eyeliners treat with the same timespan as your mascara, about 3-4 months, perhaps a little longer if you don’t use it as much. Pencil formulas are longer lasting as again, there is no water in the formula. There are emollients though, which give the pencil’s its ‘glide’ and ease of use. Sharpening will freshen them up yes, but if the pencil has dried out (be sure to place the cap back on firmly) the inner will shrink and break. Be sure to clean your sharpeners too, each time you shave off the dirty pencil layer it’s staying in the sharpener razor, or in the shavings holder and decaying, eew! Spritz your pencils with some rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl), use the same soaked on a cotton pad for your sharpener.

What about lipsticks?

Probably the hardest to shift category, for me at least, as I buy so many! Both lipsticks and lipglosses I’d say around 12-18 months but give it a whiff around this time and see if it has a funky smell. Definitely not something you’d want on your lips, near your nose or indeed, ingesting into your body…get rid!

And finally, how often should you ditch/replace tools/brushes and sponges?

Well I don’t really use or recommend sponges as I believe they retain bacteria and it’s very difficult to fully purify them of all those little parasites, let alone the unsightly staining. My brushes however (mainly from Japan), some I’ve had for 10-15 years. This is mainly because if you buy good quality, well made, artisan brushes, they will last and last. As they say, you get what you pay for. Mine have never shed any hairs, they’ve kept their shape and perform as well as the day I bought them. If yours don’t, buy new. As for cleaning them; for brushes that you use with liquids (foundation, concealers, gel eyeliners etc) use a quality washing up liquid, neat at first, then rinse with warm water. With brushes you use for powders (blushers, bronzers, eyeshadows etc) use either a baby shampoo or an organic mild cleanser (I love Dr Bronner, they have some lovely scent choices too). Once clean and squeezed of any excess water, lay them down flat, over the edge of a surface so the air can dry them 360 degrees evenly. Don’t prop them upwards as water will run down the ferrule (the metal part that holds the hairs in place) and loosen the adhesive, also keep away from radiators. Do your cleansing later in the day and by morning, they’ll be fresh and ready to use again.

Eyelash curlers last about a year, if used every day. Once purchased you often receive a replacement rubber/silicone insert, replace this after about six months. You’ll notice as the older one will start to ease its way out or, the top part of the curler has ‘sliced’ into the rubber somewhat. Often the mechanism and springs wear out after continual use too, you won’t get a curved even lash as before and they may pinch a little.

Tweezers lose their sharpness and precision over time as well, likely over a year or two and some companies may sharpen them for you (I love Tweezerman for this). You should notice when you use them if they’re not quite up to the standard they once were.

Don’t forget to keep your makeup bag clean too, inside and out. Putting it in the washing machine if you can or using washing up liquid for a good spruce up.

All in all, buy good quality products and tools that will go the distance. This will make applying makeup a joy and give you a perfectly polished result. Look after them and they will look after you. Oh, and any products you discard, be sure to recycle them where possible ;-)

Thank you to SheerLuxe, read the full article here


bottom of page