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14 Aug

Old Makeup: Know When To Call It Quits

Posted by Bikini Owner

The Bikini Girl Guide: When To Toss Old Makeup

Mascara - 3 months

Liquid/Gel Eyeliner - 3 months

Lipstick & Lip Gloss - 6 months (sooner if it changes color, separates, or changes consistency)

Liquid Foundation - 6 months (sooner if it changes consistency)

Powder Blush, Eyeshadow – 1 year

Loose Powder Foundation - 2 years


We all have that one shade of eye shadow that we only wear twice a year, or that spare tube of mascara in our purse that we can’t bring ourselves to throw away because we just know it will come in handy someday (mascara emergencies are totally a thing). But is it really a good idea to be hanging onto old makeup?

The Doc's Orders

Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu, author of Feed Your Face with her own skincare line (a celeb favorite), helped us learn when it’s time to toss our cosmetics and what hanging onto them could be doing to our skin. Spoiler Alert: It involves some pretty gnarly bacteria. Eek!

The tricky part with makeup essentials like mascara, eyeliner, blush, and foundation is that they seem perfectly useable even weeks after we should’ve kicked them to the curb. Your liquid eyeliner—though still providing a fierce looking cat eye—can become a breeding ground for bacteria if you hang onto it for too long. But don’t freak out! We’ve got your back.


The key, according to Dr. Wu, is to know when to ditch old products. “Mascara has the shortest shelf life—three months,” she said. “You double dip and use it near your eyes, plus it’s a liquid, which tends to grow more bacteria, possibly leading to an eye infection. Same goes for liquid or gel eyeliner.” Yikes! Lesson learned, doc.

So what about powder? Do you really need to change your entire makeup bag out every couple months? Dr. Wu reassured us that loose powders last much longer. You can hang onto them for as long as two years! “These formulas have a longer shelf life, because they contain less water, so it’s harder for them to grow bacteria.” Phew! We all have that bright and obscure shade of eye shadow at the bottom of our drawer that we can’t throw away because … umm … what if we need it one day?

The Bottom Line

“The best advice is to take a close look at your cosmetics before you put it on,” Dr. Wu said. “If the texture, color, and/or smell changed, toss it. And don’t ever add water to old gloss or mascara in an effort to thin it out.”

Well, we’ve definitely learned our lesson. Besides, now you have a really amazing, doctor-approved excuse for buying pretty new makeup. You're welcome.