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When should you keep or throw away beauty products?

Deciding which beauty products are worth salvaging and which should meet their maker can save you time, money and, of course, priceless space in your makeup bag. Here's what you must know about which products to keep and which should go …

Save: Once empty, hold onto a few containers that previously housed cosmetics ranging from loose powder to loose eye shadows and the like. Then, the next time your favorite solid blush or powder eye shadow shatters, simply stow the leftover pieces in one of your used containers and your favorite color lives on as a loose powder instead of a solid. I recently used this trick on a just-right-hue of blush that I picked up in Paris. When the blush tragically shattered and I couldn't replace the product online, nor convince my husband that a return trip to the City of Lights was warranted, I stored the precious pieces in a container and grabbed myself a blush brush. Voila!

Toss: Friends have admitted to cutting open packages of product to get to the very last molecule of magic. Do that once if you must, but after that one final use, toss it. Products that are meant to be stored in airtight containers won't maintain their quality once exposed to air. Plus, you work hard, you deserve a full-sized replacement of anything you love enough to use to the last drop.

Save: Have you recently purchased a drugstore beauty product that you ended up despising? Don't toss it! Many drugstores will take back product that you tried, as long as you have the receipt in tow. For example, boasts a 100 percent satisfaction beauty guarantee that states, "If you are dissatisfied for any reason, you can return the beauty product (opened or unopened) along with your receipt or invoice to any CVS/pharmacy store. We will refund the full purchase price — no questions asked!" So don't toss that wretched shade of lip gloss or that chalky eye liner. Return it and save your hard‑earned cash.

Toss: Mascara that is dry and clumpy must be tossed! I've heard crazy advice — including one tip to heat up dry mascara with a blow drier — please don't; just toss it. You can, however, save money on mascara by extending its life; simply be sure not to "pump" mascara as this dries it out more quickly, and only apply mascara to clean lashes, not lashes already caked with product.

Save: Down to the last drop of your favorite foundation? Since I'm a big believer in splurging on products that go onto your bare skin (like foundation or primer), I also say make the most of that pricey product by utilizing every bit of your beauty investment, down to the last drop. Applying foundation with a damp makeup sponge or foundation brush assures that a little will go a long way. You can also add a touch of moisturizer to foundation to get to the very last drops. But please, don't save foundation that is separated and toss anything that doesn't fit your skin tone like a glove.

Toss: Recovering from a cold sore or other contagious infection (pink eye, anyone?). Pretty please, toss any makeup you've used on the offending infection. I once had a doctor tell me my eye was scratched, not infected, so I went home and generously applied the mascara I'd been eschewing. The next day both eyes were swollen shut. I'm all for saving you money, but not at the expense of your health (not to mention your good looks). When in doubt, toss any makeup that may have been exposed to infections, and never, ever share makeup with friends or strangers. That's just common beauty sense.

— Carolyn Brundage is the founder of, a guide to the best in local beauty. Need beauty advice? Tweet Up with Carolyn on Twitter @tampabaypretty.

When should you keep or throw away beauty products? 08/18/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:02pm]
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