A Complete Guide to Makeup Expiration Dates—and How Often to Replace Every Toiletry You Own
It's probably time to replace your toothbrush (and mascara and lip gloss and razor blades).
Raise your hand if you've had a tube of (definitely expired) mascara knocking around in your makeup bag for over a year now. Or how about a lipstick you've been swiping on for a decade? Unless you routinely set aside time to clean out your cosmetics stash, it's all too easy to keep makeup, toiletries, grooming tools, and medications long after their expiration dates. We're all guilty of it—but it's time to make a change.
Not only are all of those past-their-prime grooming products taking up valuable space in your medicine cabinet or makeup bag; using old tools and makeup could actually result in dangerous skin and eye irritations. In fact, a recent UK study found that 90 percent of beauty products—particularly sponge makeup blenders—are riddled with potentially "deadly superbugs," including E.coli and Staphylococci. Exposure to these unwelcome bacteria (which thrive in damp environments—aka makeup sponges and lipstick tubes) can lead to things like skin infection and blood poisoning, at worst. And when you think about what these things are touching—going from your fingers, to your face/mouth/eyes/pimples, and back to the product again—it's easy to see why it's dangerous to keep them for so long.
All this is to say, you need to know exactly what to throw out, and when. To be fair, it's hard to tell what a product's expiration date is, because it's not quite as clear as it is for food products, which are typically stamped with a "sell by" or "best by" date. To make matters more confusing, some products simply don't suggest any expiration date. So to figure out what can stay and what needs go, here's a comprehensive breakdown of every toiletry and makeup expiration date. You'll never use germ-ridden makeup sponges, brow wands, eye cream, or sunscreen ever again. (Promise?)
(Psst—for more life-changing cleaning and organizing tips, check out our book, The Real Simple Method to Organizing Every Room.)
Makeup Expiration Dates You Need to Know
Here's the actual shelf-life of every cream, powder, and pencil you own, so you know when it's time to treat yourself to some new stuff.
- Concealer: one year
- Cream blush: one year
- Eyeliner: three months
- Eyeliner pencil: two years
- Eyeshadow: one year
- Foundation: one year
- Lip balm: one to five years
- Lip gloss: one year
- Lipstick: two years
- Liquid eyeliner: three months
- Mascara: three months
- Nail polish: one year
- Powder blush: two years
How Often You Should Toss and Replace All Toiletries
Don't forget to sort through your toiletries, too. Do you even remember how long you've had that bottle of shampoo? Probably not. This checklist will help give your bathroom cabinets a fresh start.
- Bar soap: 18 months to three years
- Bath oil: one year
- Body bleaches and depilatories: six months
- Body lotion: two years
- Body wash: three years
- Deodorant: one to two years
- Disposable razors: every five to seven shaves
- Eye cream: one year
- Face cream: two years
- Hair brush: one year
- Hair gel: two to three years
- Hair spray: two to three years
- Loofah: six months
- Makeup sponge: one month
- Medications: check the label
- Mouthwash: three years from the manufacture date
- Nail polish remover: indefinitely
- Perfume: one to two years
- Shampoo and conditioner: two to three years
- Shaving cream: two years
- Sunscreen: three years
- Toothbrush: three months
- Tooth-whitening strips: 13 months
Even before your makeup expires, you can avoid exposure to makeup-borne germs and grime by cleaning your favorite applicators, like dirty makeup brushes, between every few uses (once or twice a week should do the trick).