The Shelf Life: A Guide to Letting Go

When it comes to beauty products, one thing we’ve all been guilty of is keeping a product (or many products) for far beyond their expiration date, or “shelf life”. There are many reasons why we feel compelled to keep products–they were expensive, you haven’t used it up yet, and of course the ever-nebulous “but one day I might need it” excuse. The truth is, nothing is completely immune to breakdown over time. Except, of course, the Twinkie.

When you think about all the fuss we put into makeup, and how much we splurge on the highest-quality makeup our money can buy, it should really make us think about grabbing that 9-month old mascara tube and placing its expired contents onto the nearest thing to our eyeballs. No?

So I’ve done a little research, determined to fight this problem which I happen to have personally (some would call it hoarding, I call it “my professional makeup collection” — and tend to use my beauty blog as the excuse). It occurred to me that I might not be alone in this habit, so I wanted to share what I’d found with you.


Powder, powder foundation, powder blush, powder eye shadows and bronzers

3 years

Eye Liners (Crayon Pencil)

2-3 years

Lipstick & Lip Liners

2 years

Lip Gloss

18 months

Concealer, Cream Foundations, and Cream Blush

12-18 months

Liquid Eye Liner

3 months


3 months

And remember, if you aren’t quite sure–toss it. If it smells rancid–toss it. Never use saliva to re-moisten products (it sounds obvious, but I’ve heard of people doing it). It’s always better to be safe and enjoy the thrill of picking up a new product, than to pick up an eye infection.

Oh, and if you’re ever in doubt, check the product itself. Chances are, it may have its own POA (period-after-use) recommendation. Ever wonder what the jar and the number meant? It’s the number of months after first opening that they recommend you toss the product.




Natural & Organic Products

Natural and organic products are typically preservative-free. This means you need to be even more careful, since although they are free of preservatives (alcohol, parabens, etc), it also means they are without armament against bacteria. Toss any fresh, natural, or organic product after 6 months, no exceptions.

Always store your products in a dry place, keeping in mind that this also means your bathroom might not be the driest place in the house, am I right? Also, remember to keep all product lids closed tightly. Keeping your makeup hygienic also means washing your brushes every two weeks with a nice mild brush cleaner or baby shampoo (I like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, or Parian Spirit®).

Don’t forget to RSVP for my meet-and-greet at the Origins in the Houston Galleria on August 22nd, from 6—8pm! Click here for details and how to RSVP!