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The Make-Up Break-Up

by Pooja Patel

Remember that awkwardly shaded eye shadow that made you feel like you were dressing up more for Halloween, rather than a night out on the town? How long has it lingered around in your make-up bag?

What about your mascara?

As you shift around items in your collection, you may have wonder if your make-up ever goes bad or expires. The answer is an astounding: YES!

Continual exposure to air and bacteria causes your make-up to loose its effectiveness and may cause infections. Most make-ups contain preservatives that prevent common-use bacteria from growing, but improper storage and extended use will increase the chances of you breaking-out or getting something ghastly, like pink eye!

There are some easy things that you can do to stretch that dollar and keep your make-up in tip-top shape.

  • DO NOT share your make-up! That’s the quickest way to a downhill spiral. You love your friends, not their germs.
  • Store your make-up in a cool, dry place.  Keep all bottles and containers tightly sealed when not in use.
  • Wash your brushes with a mild detergent at least once a month if they’re natural, at 3-4 times a month if they’re made from synthetic fibers. Baby shampoo will do the trick.
  • Sponges should be washed after every use and thrown out monthly.
  • Before you put on your face, wash it and your hands with soap and water.
  • Try not to touch your make-up directly with your fingers, pour some out or scoop it up with an applicator.

The FDA doesn’t require cosmetic companies to print expiration dates on their products. So, here are some general guidelines on the shelf life of some of your make-up items.

MASCARA: 3 months! – ‘Pumping’ your mascara (pulling it in and out quickly) only introduces more bacteria, so don’t do it!

LIQUID FOUNDATION: Water-based foundations – up to 12 months; Oil-based foundations – 18 months. Wider mouthed jars should be let go earlier. If the ingredients settle or separates, thickens or thinks, or if the smell changes – let it hit the road. CREAM FOUNDATION: 4-6 months.

CONCEALER: 6-8 months

POWDER: 2 years


PENCIL EYE/LIP LINER: Up to 3 years, if regularly sharpened. If the pencil dries or crumbles – it has gone bad.

EYESHADOWS: Up to 3 years. Dark eyeshadows can also be used as eyeliners – dampen an extremely flat-brush (Aveda, MAC, Sephora have some good ones) dab it in your eyeshadow. Wiggle the brush into your lash line (focusing on the little spaces between your lashes), and sweep the color just above it.

LIPSTICK: 1-2 years, longer if refrigerated. If it starts to smell – out it goes!

NAIL POLISH: Up to 1 year, depending on quality.

Most importantly, if your make-up changes color, texture, or smell, toss it out immediately.

So that’s it ladies, if your make-up isn’t making you feel like it used to, or is getting out of shape…let’em go. It’s not you, it’s them.