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If there is any woman out there who's vigilant about tossing her mascara every three months on the dot, I haven't met her yet. Do a quick check of your bathroom, and chances are you will find jars of rarely used creams, dregs of your favorite powder blush, and maybe a tube of lip gloss squeezed within an inch of its life. I know, parting is such a sweet sorrow. Still, these cosmetics are taking up a lot of your makeup bag space; and this hoarding habit has a catch. Cosmetics, unlike books and photos, do go bad. At best, they stop performing as much as they are meant to. (Think goopy lip gloss or flaky mascara.) At worst, they cause irritations or infections.

So, when is the right time to replace your makeup? Here is our guide on when you need to say goodbye;


Each time you apply mascara and place the wand back in the tube, you are transferring bacteria from your eyes to the mascara tubes. And just like liquid liners, these puppies dry up quick. Make a point of springing for a new tube at least every three months from the date of purchase. Unless stiff, clumpy lashes are your thing, dump that wand lest you want an unwanted case of conjunctivitis. Plus a three-month-old mascara is a non-performer anyway.


These are the lucky little buggers that never seem to go bad that fast. Your Eyeshadow will normally last up to 4 years, as long as you wash your brushes regularly and do not reuse them after an eye infection. Be sure to clean the applicators in warm water after using them. However, powder eyeshadows last longer than creamier formulas; so make a wise choice.


A fresh liner equals a perfect line every time. A steady hand helps too. The eyeliner can actually last up to 1-2 years if properly stored and sharpened regularly. Be sure to regularly sanitize your sharpener with rubbing alcohol and always sharpen it before you line your eyes.

Lipstick, lip gloss and lip liner

Lipsticks tend to dry out with age while their water content makes them potential mini reservoirs of bacteria. No surprise there. So if you notice that your favorite lippie is not spreading like butter anymore, it is high time to toss it away.

Lip gloss that is sticky, thick and shows signs of discoloration has to go as well.  For your lip liner, make sure to sharpen it regularly to avoid the spreading of bacteria. Always remember to tightly close their lids to prevent air accumulation and store them in a cool, dry place (say, your fridge) and you will get about two good years from them.


The shelf life of your foundation depends on whether you use liquid or powder products. The liquid foundation should be replaced every six months while your powder foundation should be removed from your makeup bag two years after you have broken the seal on the product. An icky smell is an unquestionable sign that your liquid foundation needs to go. Another way to know if it is time to ditch your foundation is if the product has discolored, separated, looks chalky or has an “off” smell. Always store your foundation out of moist places, like your bathroom.

Nail polish

Most of us are guilty of having a bag packed with a wide range of nail polish shades. However, contrary to old wives’ tales, out-of-date polish won't make your nails brittle or infect your cuticles, but it will streak and give you those dreaded bubbles. When your polish expires, its consistency turns gooey or stringy. The color might also start to separate. If this happens, just throw the polish away – even if you haven’t reached the end of the pot. Otherwise, your nail polish should last between one to two years.


Time to toss it; two words – expiration date. Since the whole purpose of the sunscreen is to protect your skin from UV damage, it is important to keep an eye on their expiry dates, which is usually one year. Also, if you’re using the recommended amount (enough to cover your face, neck, your ears and décolleté alone), then a bottle shouldn’t last you more than a couple of months, anyway. Make sure to also protect your tube by storing it out of the sun.

Hair products

There are myths that most hair products do not have a use by date, but it is best to try and replace them at least once a year. To give your hair products the longevity they deserve, always tightly close the caps of conditioners, shampoos, and styling products. Otherwise, water and air can get in, breaking down the formulas or causing them to separate. If you use perfumed products, and you notice that the smell starts to go sour, it's time to throw them out.


 A great fragrance can last three to five years if properly taken care of. Some can also last up to a decade. (Thank heavens Tom Ford does not come cheap.) Keep your eaux de favorites out of humidity and sunlight to avoid altering the notes in your fragrance, which will then change the overall original scent. If you notice your fragrance smells 'off' or has slightly changed in color, don't keep hold of it – it's probably expired.