Cosmetics Cleanup: is it time to toss your makeup?

By on December 29, 2015, in Soft Surroundings

Know when to refresh & replace your cosmetics!

But It’s Still Half Full!

Half full doesn’t mean all good when it comes to makeup. Time can be unkind to cosmetics as air, dirt, oil and bacteria (yes, bacteria) degrade the quality of your beloved beauty products. If the color or smell seems off, it’s definitely time for a change.

Make ‘Em Last!

Some contamination is unavoidable, but there are a couple of things you can do to make your products last. Apply to freshly cleansed skin. Wait until moisturizer has dried before applying. Swipe makeup brushes on a clean paper towel after each use. Wash them with baby shampoo every two weeks. Quality sponges can be washed too, but cheap ones should be tossed after two uses. Your cosmetics will also stay fresher if you store them away from the heat and humidity of the bathroom. A cool, dry and dark place is ideal (UV rays from sunlight or certain lighting can shorten shelf life).

Creams & Liquids

Liquid foundation has such a silky, hydrating feel, but the water-based formula is also a welcome environment for bacteria to grow. It’s best to freshen your foundation every 6-12 months. Liquid concealer naturally picks up bacteria every time you dot it on a blemish. A swipe of rubbing alcohol will eliminate the bacteria or, even better, use a little lipliner brush to apply. Since blush is usually applied over foundation, your blush brush can often pick up the oils, powders and color of your base, leaving a film behind on your cream blush, so be sure to toss and refresh every 6-12 months.




Powder Foundation, Blush & Concealer

Powder cosmetics are much more hardy than their water-based cousins, lasting up to two years. But some organic varieties can contain trace amounts of water in the botanical ingredients leading to some bacteria growth. Proper brush care is key to keeping these products their pure best for the full 24 months.




When eyeliners and lipliners get dry and crumbly, it’s time to go. Your eyes are among the most sensitive, so extra TLC with your eye makeup is essential or you risk infections like conjunctivitis. Products for your eyes should be replaced every 2-3 months. Lipliners, if they’re still moist and luscious, can last 12 months. And don’t forget about cleaning those sharpeners. They can harbor bacteria, too.


Mascara & Eyeshadow

Replacing your mascara is the most important. With every swipe of your wand, you pick up small particles that are then pushed back into the tube. Never pump your mascara or you’ll create clumps even sooner. Cream eyeshadows can create a breeding ground for bacteria because of the water content. Even powder shadows can pick up debris, so it’s best to replace them often. If your eyes are itchy or irritated or you’ve had an infection, it’s time to switch.


Lipsticks & Glosses

When lipsticks lose their smooth glide on your lips, it’s time to kiss them goodbye. Dry color will only settle in lip lines and age your appearance. If you’ve been sick, you’ll definitely want to try a fresh tube. Lip gloss that’s gone to pot will be extra sticky and the color might even separate. Lip products should be swapped for fresh, new finds after one year.



Anti-Aging & SPF

These cosmetics are multi-tasking miracles that save you precious time on your beauty routine, but their shelf time can be up more quickly than traditional products. Anti-aging ingredients can turn a product sour sooner. SPF protection starts to decline after six months, so be sure to replace your product to stay shielded from the sun’s harmful rays.



Nail Polish

Polish doesn’t suffer from bacteria woes, but it can separate and get clumpy-yucky. You’ll know when it’s time to give it the heave-ho, when a good handshake doesn’t refresh the goopy mess.

  • Judith S, Schainen

    Thank you for the preceding guide lines as to when we should discard make up products. Could you advise us as to the shelf life of creams, eye make up, lipsticks etc, if they are unopened or not yet used?

    • Soft Spoken Soft Surroundings

      Hello Judith, that’s a great question! While the shelf life can vary greatly by product as a general rule of thumb water based creams have a two year shelf life. Things like powders and compressed powders can have an indefinite shelf life. A really neat tip we like to give is to look for the little open container. Down near all of the small legal print usually on the back of the product you will see what looks like a small 3-D container with an open lid. Inside that container you will find a printed number. This number indicates the number of months a product should last under normal conditions once opened. Let us know if you have any additional questions!

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