Why is throwing away old makeup so. freaking. hard?
Be honest—you’ve probably got a few products in your beauty bag that have long overstayed their welcome. But there’s something sentimental and sweet about that lipstick that you wore on your first date with your husband, or the “designer” eye palette you bought after your first big raise.
Unfortunately, your sentimentality could pose a big threat to your health. Makeup, skincare, and beauty tools like brushes and sponges are an absolutely breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. And trust us, face fungus is not a good look—expired products can cause everything from acne to pink eye.
It’s probably time to overhaul your makeup drawer. But the good news? Tossing all your old stuff gives you the perfect excuse to invest in some green, organic, and non-toxic beauty products! Keep scrolling to find out when to toss your old makeup, and what to replace it with.
Powder formulations can last a lot longer than most other cosmetics because they’re free of oils and water, so it’s worth it to invest in that luxe powder blush. That being said, if the color begins to darken or the formula cakes up it’s a sign that you need to replace your go-to rouge. And remember to wash brushes regularly—they can encourage bacterial growth in your blush.
Powder palettes, especially if you use them sparingly, can last for up to two years. But if you’re applying eye makeup on the reg and not washing your brushes often enough, bacteria can build up and cause an eye infection. Not good. Be wary of cream eye shadows that you apply with fingers—they tend to be a breeding ground for nasty bacteria that’s easily spread from your hands to your eyes.
Stick or pencil eyeliners are usually more hygienic that liquid formulas because they need to be sharpened regularly. It’s likely that you’ll run out of your eyeliner before you need to toss it. But if you’ve got a liquid liner rolling around in your makeup bag from that one time you tried to do a cat eye two years ago, it’s time to toss it. Not sure if a product should stay or go? Try the sniff test—if it smells off, trash it.
Let’s be honest—two years is probably a bit generous. Most drugstore foundations will reformulate (ew) or change in color after about a year, and all-natural beauty products typically have a shorter shelf life than their preservative-filled counterparts.
Mattifying powder or mineral makeup lasts longer than most products, but as always, make sure you use a clean brush!
If you see moisture beads on the surface of your lipstick or the color changes, that’s a good indicator that the preservatives in your favorite lip color have degraded. Can’t remember when you bought that tube? That’s also probably a good sign that you need to toss it.
Those wand applicators are the best way to spread bacteria from your lips to the rest of the tube of gloss. Best to toss after 6 months, unless you’ve got a squeeze tube which is slightly more hygienic and can last up to a year.
Like eyeliner, brow pencils tend to get used up before they need to be tossed. But if you’ve got any extra pencils floating around your vanity, make sure you dump them after a year.
Depending on the type of concealer you’re using, you might need to replace your products sooner. Cream concealers that come in a pot can be used for up to a year as long as you apply with a brush (or clean fingers). Concealer that comes in a squeeze tube lasts significantly longer, but if the formula changes in texture or color it needs to be thrown out. Finally, products with a built-in brush or wand applicator should be disposed of after a year.
You’ve heard it a million times before—your mascara has the shortest lifespan of all of the products in your beauty kit. Get a new tube every three months … you don’t want to deal with pink eye!
When was the last time you replaced your Beauty Blender? Eek … That’s what we thought. Experts recommend washing sponges after every use (whoops) and brushes once every two weeks.