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When to throw out your make-up: the ultimate guide

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We've all been guilty of buying new make-up only for it to end up staying on the shelf or falling into the depths of our beauty bags, but our favourite products do have an expiry date and after a while you could be risking an infection or beauty mishap. We take a look at how long some of our make-up staples can last before you should throw them away... 


beauty© Photo: iStock

Make-up products have varying expiry dates from three months to five years


Every time you apply mascara and put the wand back in the tube, you're transferring bacteria from your eyes to the product. Therefore, it's important to change your mascara regularly, at least every three months, to avoid risking an infection.


Powders tend to last longer than most make-up products, so your eyeshadows can last between eighteen months to two years. However if the product is flakier than usual, it could be a sign that it has expired early.


Liquid eyeliner should be thrown out after six months – try to keep it away from your bathroom after a hot shower, as the steam can cause it to expire earlier. If you use pencil, this will last for at least one year, just make sure you regularly sharpen it to get rid of any build-up of dirt.

mascara© Photo: iStock

Mascara lasts three to four months


The shelf life of foundation depends on whether you prefer liquid or powder products. Liquid foundation should be replaced every six months because you are having to dip into the product with your fingers or brush, therefore transfer bacteria back and forth. Powder foundation lasts up to two years, but if it seems dry or flaky, it may have already expired.

Blushers and bronzers

These are similar to foundation when it comes to how long they last – you should aim to get rid of cream products after a year, but powders will last up to two years.

Lipstick and lipgloss

These usually last for up to two years, but there are a few clear signs that it's time to replace them. If your lipstick has lost its creamy consistency and colour or has a significant smell, it's time to throw it out. Lipgloss which has expired may feel particularly sticky. If in doubt, it's best to get rid of it – think of it like expired food that you wouldn't risk keeping.

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It's important to regularly replace your beauty must-haves


A pencil lipliner will last for two years or more, depending on how well you take care of the product. Make sure to sharpen it regularly to avoid the spreading of bacteria so that your favourite colour has a longer shelf life.


There are myths that hairspray doesn't have a use by date, but it's best to try and replace it at least once a year. If you used a perfumed product you might find that the smell starts to go sour – and if you notice that the hairspray doesn't hold as well as it used to, it's time to throw it out.

Nail varnish

Most of us are guilty of having a beauty bag packed with a wide range of different nail polish shades, but if the colour has started to separate, throw the nail polish away – even if you haven't reached the end of the pot. Otherwise, most nail polished will last between one to two years.


A great fragrance can last three to five years, provided that you care properly for it. Keep out of sunlight, and store in a cool, dry place. If your fragrance smells 'off' or has slightly changed in colour, don't keep hold of it – it's probably expired.

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