beauty products

If you’re like many women, you have at least one or two beauty products at home that you can’t imagine throwing away (like that rock star shade of lipstick you save for special occasions). Even if it’s been a few years since you bought them, beauty products aren’t meant to last a lifetime. Not to worry! Learn which products you can keep long-term and which need to be replaced.

Why Do Beauty Products Go Bad?

Most beauty products contain either natural or synthetic preservatives designed to lengthen shelf life, but even these ingredients break down over time, particularly when exposed to heat or air. Although cosmetic and skin care companies aren’t required to list an expiration date, consumer-conscious brands do so to ensure you receive the best results.

Lipstick and Gloss

Lip gloss expires much earlier than lipstick at 1 year versus 2 years, respectively. However, if you begin to notice a change in consistency or unevenness upon application, it might be time to get a few new shades.

Foundation and Powders

Both facial and eyeshadow powders can last up to two years if careful attention is paid to change and clean applicators. Liquid makeup products, like foundation, break down quicker than their powder counterparts and should be replaced every 6-12 months.

Skin Cream and Masks

Most masks and skin care products are safe to use for up to one year, but carefully check the consistency and smell after using for six months or more. Like makeup, these products contain preservatives that break down over time, which will render them ineffective. Always keep creams and masks in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and ensure the container’s top is properly closed after use.

Eyeliners and pencils

Eyeliner pencils are wax based so there shouldn’t be any problems with bacterial contamination, but keeping them sharpened will assist in keeping them clean.


With arguably the shortest shelf life, mascara should be replaced every 2-3 months. Because it is applied so close to the eye where bacteria like to live, it’s important to keep your tubes of mascara fresh to avoid experiencing a reaction. Typically, mascara that becomes clumpy is well past its expiration date.

Unopened Products Last Longer

In general, the ingredients in beauty products break down much slower when the product remains unopened. SKN Complex’s products stay fresh for up to two years if they haven’t been opened and six months after first use. Always review the ingredients of beauty products to ensure you’re not applying irritants to your face and skin.

More Beauty for Your Buck

To get the most beauty for your buck, write the purchase date on a sticker or piece of masking tape and attach it to the underside of every product’s container before storing it. This way, you can easily identify which products are safe to keep and which are ready to be tossed.

Do you have any beauty products you can’t seem to throw away?

Reader Special

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About Vicki Law

Vicki Law is the Founder of SKN Complex, a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated skin care company committed to taking the clinical complexity out of the science of beauty and to provide an exceptional, inspiring range of products to Australian women. You can connect with Vicki via Twitter, LinkedIn or Email View all posts by Vicki Law ➞

Ellie @ Savvy Beauty Guide - April 22, 2017

I never thought about how long I should hold onto products before getting rid of them but this helps. I’m definitely going to put stickers on my new beauty products from now on, that’s a great idea!!! This will help me and keep me from using old products.

    Vicki - April 24, 2017

    Glad I could help.

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