When Should I Throw Out a Product?


We all have beauty products in the backs of drawers or at the bottom of makeup bags we know should be thrown out. So what stops us? Perhaps we feel like we’re wasting money or that we might need that product one day or maybe, just maybe, it will come back in fashion. Unfortunately, keeping old products around is a gamble. Preservatives in products only last so long after opening, and the stability of ingredients have a shelf life as well. The trouble is, aside from products that are over-the-counter drugs such as

sunscreens and anti-acne medicines, there are no expiration dates on product packaging nor are there any requirements for them to be there (except for products sold in the European Union EU). So it’s left up to consumers to know when it’s time to say goodbye to old products yet often we just can’t let go. However, it’s time to toughen up and toss away products that have long passed their prime. Though products vary greatly, as do the conditions of consumer usage and storage, the following is a helpful guide for assessing what needs to go or how long it has left:

  1. Mascara, liquid  or gel eyeliners: 4 to 6 months (always toss out dry mascara—never add water to extend its life)
  2. MoisturizersSerums, & Foundations: 6 months to 1 year
  3. Powder-based products: 2-3 years
  4. Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, & Lip Pencils: 2-3 years

And remember: If it smells funky, looks gunky or the texture has changed significantly—definitely toss it out! 

Making Your Products Last

Here are some easy tips for prolonging the shelf life of your products, while keeping your skin and body as healthy as possible: 

  • DO store products in a cabinet or drawer
  • DO wash your hands before using products
  • DO  tighten/secure the cap after each use
  • DO  consider how climate and humidity will shorten a product’s shelf life
  • DO  write the date of purchase in permanent ink (use a Sharpie) on the bottom or back of the package
  • DO  toss out eye products after you’ve had an eye infection
  • DO  abide by the expiration dates on sunscreens, acne products, and prescription medications such as topical antibiotics and Renova or Retin-A
  • Do NOT  buy products packaged in jars of any kind (no matter how pretty they are!) because fingers getting into jars add unwanted bacteria to the contents. Most jar packaging carries a 100% risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Do NOT  store products in direct sunlight
  • Do NOT share your products with others
  • Do NOT  add water or saliva to thin out or remoisten products
  • Do NOT  “pump” your mascara
  • Do NOT  purchase products with broken seals or other signs of tampering

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