When Should You Throw Out Your Old Makeup?

Want to know when you should throw out old makeup. Read further to find out.
Find out when you should throw out your old makeup.

January is the time when many people not only make resolutions but attempt to declutter their homes and lives to welcome new possibilities in the coming year. January, when many re recovering from the frenetic pace of the holidays and are hunkering indoors away from the frigid weather is the perfect month to take stock of the makeup in your bathroom cupboard and discard anything that has gone stale. Because who wants to enter 2020 wearing a face from 2016?

Dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD says a good rule of thumb to determine whether to throw out any makeup product is: “If the product looks different than when you first opened it, throw it out. Or if there is any change in texture, color, smell or if the product begins to separate, throw it out. Or if you used the tool or product over an infected area and can’t sanitize it, probably throw it out, too.”

Read further to find out when you should throw out old makeup.

Want to know when you should throw out old makeup. Read further to find out.
Find out when you should throw out your old makeup.


When it comes to determining when to pitch your foundation, it depends on whether it is liquid or powder foundation. Liquid foundation lasts about 1 1/2 years before it needs to be tossed since it contains oils that break down. If makeup foundation breaks down, it doesn’t lay evenly on the skin. Powder foundation, on the other hand, should last two to three years before you need to replace it.


Mascara is fairly easy to determine when to throw out since most mascaras last only about three to six months before they get dry and clumpy. You definitely don’t want to use mascara that is more than six months old because it is applied to the eye area where it can come into contact with bodily fluids and then the wand is replaced into the mascara tube where it can spread bacteria. Dr. Shainhouse adds, “If you used it while you had a cold or pink eye, throw it out.”


Most serums last at least a year and should be able to be used beyond a year without providing any harm to the skin although the serum’s active ingredients e.g. Vitamin C will lose some of their potency over time. Many serums are packaged in an opaque glass bottle to prevent their contents from being damaged by UV exposure.


Lipstick can last for about two years depending on how often it is used. If your lipstick changes colour or texture or applies differently on your lips, it’s time to get rid of it. You can keep your lipsticks clean by spraying them with alcohol. Lip pencils can last up to five years.


Eyeshadow usually lasts longer than other makeup products. You can safely keep eyeshadow palettes and eyeshadow pencils for about three years. Make sure that you frequently clean your eyeshadow brushes so that you are not transferring makeup residue and bacteria to your eyeshadow palettes. If you are using liquid and cream eyeshadows, keep in mind that they don’t last as long: up to two years.

Nail Polish

Nail polish can last from two to three years. Many people, including me, keep their nail polish in the fridge to prolong its life. Try it…it works! You can usually revive nail polish that has become sticky and thick by adding a few drops of nail polish remover that contains acetone and shaking the bottle.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea about when you should throw out old makeup.

BRB – I’m just running off to have a look in my bathroom cabinet and toss some old makeup!

You might be interested in reading, “6 Things I Never Pay for in My Essentialist Lifestyle“.


  1. Oh my goodness thank you for this post. I am the number one culprit for not throwing away my makeup. I probably have stuff that’s over a year old. I didn’t know there were actual time tables!

  2. Many people aren’t aware that continuous use of the things can cause skin outbreaks. I’m personally not a make up person but I believe this would be of help to makeup lovers.

  3. Very timely as I am in planning to throw old makeups away this weekend. Just wondering if there’s a proper way to dispose makeups like medicines?

  4. This is great. I don’t wait till the end of the year; I do that regularly. I also don’t but makeup that I hardly use because it’s a waste of money and I’ve gotta properly dispose of it.

  5. Such a great post! Old makeup can cause skin reactions like allergies, pimples, and wrinkles it’s so important to check the label and expiration date of the makeups to prevent skin reactions.

  6. This is really helpful! I’m actually decluttering right now and I’ve never thought of disposing my old makeup until now. Thanks for this!

  7. Thank you for sharing this. Very timely as I have been meaning to clean my make up kit but had no idea if I should throw out or keep it. I have a lot of unopened ones that have been there for quite some time. I am pretty much uncertain if it’s still safe to use.

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