Hands up if you "occasionally" neglect to throw your out your expired makeup. That makes most of us, right? After all, it's tough to keep track, especially since most types of makeup have different shelf lives, ranging from three months (mascara) to 10 years (fragrance).
With that in mind, we've put together a little guide listing each product and approximately how long it lasts, ranked from shortest to longest. And to help elucidate the whole situation, we chatted with Justine Purdue and Stoj, celebrity makeup artists with Streeters. They explained the importance of keeping track of your makeup since its expiry can lead to infection and irritation.
"When you use your makeup after the expiration date, you are exposing yourself to bacterial overgrowth, contamination, infection and other toxins," says Stoj. Luckily, spoiled makeup isn't generally too hard to spot: "The easiest way to know if something is expired is if it's changed color, consistency or smell," explains Purdue.
That said, it's important to keep track of your makeup's shelf life when possible. Play it by ear, though — some products can last longer than these guidelines, while others may expire more quickly. "Even if your makeup hasn't expired and you notice the product separate, change color or smell, it is time to throw it away!" cautions Stoj.
Image via Imaxtree
Mascara — Three Months
Since the action of taking the brush in and out of the tube increases the amount of bacteria introduced to the product, mascara tends to have a relatively short shelf life. Said bacteria is nothing to sneeze at: "When you use makeup after the expiration date, you are exposing yourself to bacterial overgrowth, contamination, infection and other toxins," says Stoj. Besides, you'll also likely notice the formula growing clumpier and more difficult to use over time, which definitely makes your decision to ditch your favorite tube a little easier.
Image via @toofaced
Liquid and Gel Eyeliner — Three Months
Like mascara, liquid and gel eyeliners can get a lot of bacteria mixed into their formulas through their mode of use, which means you should toss them sooner rather than later. There's also the practical side to it: even with careful storage, it's tough to find a liquid liner that'll keep from drying out longer than the prerequisite three months.
Image via @stilacosmetics
Foundation — One Year
Over time, foundations can change color or start to separate, two easy-to-catch expiration warning signs that Purdue says to keep an eye out for. She also notes that you're going to want to take special care with any foundations that don't come with a pump, as your fingers can contaminate the product, causing it to go bad faster.
Image via @fentybeauty
Lip Gloss — One Year
Sadly, lip glosses don't exactly last as long as you'd hope, which means you should probably toss that limited edition MAC Lip Glass you've been hoarding since high school. "I would throw out a lip gloss before a lipstick because you are pumping air and bacteria back into the lip gloss with the wand," explains Stoj.
Image via @covergirl