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What's the expiration date on your makeup kit?

You reluctantly threw out your favorite white T-shirt when it got stained. Your $100-plus designer jeans were recycled when the bum started to wear out. But for some reason, you still have mascara from the Friends era in your cosmetic bag, not to mention lipsticks that have seen more action than Colin Farrell.

It's time to do some spring beauty cleaning — discarding old cosmetics to renew your look while banning the risk of getting infections from outdated products.


Of all your cosmetics, mascara reaches its expiration date the quickest, usually about three months once opened. That's because each time you use your mascara, the opportunity for bacteria to breed magnifies. Avoid pumping the wand in and out. This exposes the product to air, which will dry it out even faster. You can also buy duplicates of your favorite mascara to keep on hand, making that 90-day toss-out rule easier to abide by. Still sealed, mascara will stay fresh for 6 to 9 months so you can keep an extra on hand ready to replace the old one.

Liquid foundation

Experts agree that liquid foundation is good for up to 12 months, same goes for concealers. But, if the product separates sooner than that, it's time to toss. (And certainly don't buy foundation that's already separated when you pluck it from the store shelf.) Another option is to switch to a powder foundation, which has an increased shelf life of up to 2 years.


While lipstick is said to hold up for 12 months or more, any lipstick that smells suspect should be tossed immediately. If you have a favorite shade and brand, you'll probably notice right away when the scent changes. You can also store lipstick in the fridge to increase its shelf life. For lipsticks that you occasionally use, if it smells or "tastes" funny, it is probably rancid — toss it! If you purchase a lipstick and it immediately smells funny, return it just as fast.

Shadows and liners

Lip and eye liners, as well as eye shadows, stay good for up to two years. Sharpening pencil liners every 14 days will help them stay fresh. To keep cosmetics fresh for as long as possible, store them in a cool, dry place. That means that in a drawer in your bathroom, which is frequently heated up by blistering hot showers and excessively hot styling tools, may not be best. You can also purchase a pack of colored mini-dot stickers and apply them to your cosmetics. Each color should represent the month that the product expires — simply replace all cosmetics with the same color sticker at the same time.

What's the expiration date on your makeup kit? 05/14/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2008 2:25pm]
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