When your make-up has had its day

Here's a handy guide for make-up and beauty products and their lifespans.

24 March 2009
by The Clicks Beauty Team

How long can you keep an opened lipstick, and when should you throw away a mascara or foundation? Many of these products don't have an expiry date on their packaging but you mustn't assume they'll last forever. Learn what you should keep and what you should toss. 


Lifespan: Three to six months

Mascaras tend not to last as long as you hope they will. Bacteria can easily creep into the container because of the pumping action of the mascara brush. Mascara is then easily contaminated by this bacteria, so make sure you never add water to the tube because this creates a moist environment bacteria thrive in. The best idea is to stick to one mascara and use it on a regular basis so you finish it before its best-before date.


Lifespan: Three to 12 months

As with mascaras, moisturisers should also be used up quickly. Try not to have more than one or two moisturisers you use often, as they do tend to lose their moisturising properties easily. Throw away a product as soon as it starts to smell, changes colour or the oils and fats start to separate in the jar.


Lifespan: Oil-free = 12 months; Moisturising, cream or compact = 18 months

Oil-free foundations will dry out faster than other types, but foundations in a tube or pump dispenser will last you a lot longer. This is because it is difficult for the product to get back into the container after it has been exposed to air. Storing your foundation in the fridge may prolong the shelf life slightly. If you can’t store it in the fridge, keep it in a dark, cool place away from direct sunlight.


Lifespan: Powder blush = two years; Cream blush = 12-18 months

Blushers in a powder form will dry out after a while and the colour will change as well. A good idea is to wash your brushes or sponges once a week to eliminate any natural oils from your skin that may be mixing with the powder in its container. Always wash your hands before applying cream blusher to avoid any bacteria getting in.


Lifespan: Powder eyeshadow = two years; Cream eyeshadow = 12 to 18 months

Powder eyeshadow is mainly pigmented pressed powder so it will last for ages. Cream eyeshadows use emulsions that break down over time so they won’t last as long. Be careful not to use eyeshadow if you have an eye infection because the bacteria can easily be spread onto the applicator brush which may infect the eyeshadow itself.

Lipstick and lip gloss

Lifespan: Lipstick = two years; Lip gloss = 18 months to two years

A lipstick's formulation will generally mean it lasts you for quite some time but if it starts to feel dry, scratchy or changes colour, bin it! You can protect your lip gloss by washing the brush once a week, and wash your hands if you’re applying it with your finger. Don’t use either of these products if you have a cold sore as it could spread further around your mouth.