It's probably time to replace your toothbrush (and mascara and lip gloss and razor blades).

By Real Simple Editors
Updated December 12, 2019
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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 About

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).