How Long Can You Use That Mascara For?

by | Dec 14, 2015 | Make-up

By Rodale Inc, Image by Alyssa Zolna
As you’ve likely already discovered, make-up often turns funky before you can use it all up. Whether it’s mascara going dry or eye shadow losing its pigment, there’s a certain amount of time you can expect to get good use out of your cosmetics before they expire.
Make-up artist Stacey Menzer of Stayglam Beauty has the lowdown on when to chuck what… 


The product that goes bad in the shortest amount of time is mascara since bacteria breeds quickly and each use pumps drying air into the tube. Toss after two to three months – or even sooner if you notice it’s getting clumpy or smells weird, says Menzer.

Liquid Foundation

“I know how much people want to make these bottles last. However, they’re cream-based and get contaminated with bacteria from your fingers, brushes and sponges,” says Menzer. Average shelf life can vary from eight to 12 months. Let go when the formula begins to separate.
READ MORE: “I Ditched Foundation For 2 Weeks – Here’s How People Reacted”

Powder Foundation

Pay attention to the texture of the product, advises Menzer. If it begins to get a dry, hardened surface or turns flaky, that’s when it’s time to get a new one – typically from six months to a year after you’ve first used it. Powders will begin performing poorly and not look as good on your skin.


Concealer tends to be a product we go through the slowest since it only takes a teeny bit to cover up most imperfections. When the colour begins to change, you’ll want to part with it. For powders and sticks, that can be up to two years, while liquids typically go after one year.

Eye Shadow, Blush and Bronzer

In powder form, these heavy hitters can last up to three years. Get a new one when the pigment fades or doesn’t apply as well as before. Liquid and cream versions have a much shorter shelf life and can typically last up to a year, says Menzer.
READ MORE: 5 Easy Ways To Completely Conceal Your Eye Bags


“Pencils are regularly sharpened, so in my opinion, [they] never go bad since the bacteria is shaved away,” says Menzer. However, liquid eyeliners last between six to 12 months or until the formula dries out or starts clumping up.


If you’re stocking up on your favourite shade (we’ve been there, done that!), it can last up to three years if unopened immediately. Once opened, it’s time to toss if it starts to smell or taste funny and strong.

Lip Gloss

Glosses don’t last as long as lipstick formulas and have a shelf life between six to 12 months, depending how clean you keep the applicator. Once it gets extra tacky or sticky, it’s time to give it the heave-ho.
Want to get the longest possible use out of your cosmetics? Clean make-up brushes and sponges on a regular basis, and wash your hands before applying or touching up make-up, as doing both will help prevent bacteria growth on products, says Menzer.
“And ladies, no matter how close you are to your bestie, don’t share your make-up,” she adds.

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