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When to Throw Makeup Away: Guidelines For Cosmetic Life Span

Chances Are You Used Expired Mascara This Morning

A chilly change in season is the perfect excuse to lock yourself indoors, binge-watch Netflix, eat lots of ramen, and reorganize your makeup bag. Since expired cosmetics can cause skin irritation and eye infections, it's important to replace them before they go south. A new study from Stowaway Cosmetics and Poshly found that 89 percent of women hoard old makeup "just in case." Plus, fewer than one in five of us trash mascara within the recommended three months (we're guilty, too).

Unlike food, cosmetics aren't required to have an expiration date on their packaging. Instead, you'll have to keep track of when you opened them. Most products have a jar symbol with a numeral that signifies the number of months you have until the item is no longer usable. If you have a hard time keeping track of when you've bought things, just use a Sharpie to write down the purchase date.

If you know how to take care of your cosmetics, your makeup should serve you well. But use common sense: if your gloss is gloopy, your nail polish is separating, or your lipstick has a funny smell — it's time to bid it adieu. And maybe your next life goal should be to never let crusty compacts and congealed mascara make an appearance again. See guidelines for when to replace your makeup below:

Product When to toss
Powders (including blushes, bronzers, and shadows) Two years
Cream shadows and blushes 12-18 months
Oil-free foundation One year
Cream compact foundation 18 months
Concealers 12-18 months
Lipstick and lip liner One year
Lip gloss 18-24 months
Pencil eyeliner Two years
Liquid or gel eyeliner Three months
Mascara Three months
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