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Hands up those who likes to hoard cosmetics.   I am was one of the many women guilty of that.  In a study I came across commissioned by stowaway cosmetics that found 89% of the women keep old makeup just in case they need them.

While there is no “real expiry dates” on the cosmetic products we purchase, I am sure all of us have read guidelines of some sorts from makeup websites/ blogs.  Each time I come across such related articles, I will be so disgusted with myself for hanging on to cosmetics that are so old I don’t even remember when I opened them.  So you see, the problem is not finding such information on when to discard cosmetics (which is aplenty in the Internet), it is the discipline of keeping track that we seem to be struggling with.

So recently, I found some really tiny blank stickers in my overflowing drawer that are perfect to help me with this.  To be honest, I bought them last year not for this purpose but for labelling my bottles of breast milk (which I have to deliver and leave behind with the nurses at the hospital while my baby J stayed there three nights due to jaundice).  So you can imagine I am left with many pieces of that.


No matter how tiny your item is, these mini stickers fit somewhere without making them look horrid.  Now I am all set to track their shelf life easily!

If you are still trying to recall what you have read before about when to throw out that lipstick of yours… look no further… here is what I found on dummies.com which is pretty comprehensive with useful tips!

Here are some common cosmetics and the recommended shelf life for each after it has been opened for the first time.

  • Mascara: Toss your mascara after 3 months. Mascara has the shortest life span of all make up because the risk of transferring bacteria back and forth from your eye into the mascara tube is so great. If your mascara starts to dry out before its 90 days is up, throw it away. Don’t add water or saliva to your mascara to rewet it. Doing so will only increase your chances of getting an eye infection.

(Even when I was still working in the corporate world and putting on mascara every day except weekends, my mascara would have lasted me more than 6 months! Yikes!  Now that mascara is only an occasional make up item for a WAHM, I seriously should look for cheaper or travel size options to reduce wastage.)

  • Eye pencils: Eye pencils can be kept up to 2 years. To make sure you’re using a clean tip, sharpen before each application.

(This is one item I have no issues with since I am still using them daily for brows)

  • Eye shadows: Keep your applicators clean and your liquid shadows should last 12 months. Powder shadows will keep 2 years.

    If you’ve had an eye infection, you’ll need to throw out all the eye make up and applicators you used from the time you developed symptoms. The virus or bacteria that caused the infection has probably taken up residence in your make up, so using those cosmetics again could cause you to develop another infection.

(While this item has a longer shelf life, it still poses a small challenge IF you (like myself) have a tendency to own many colours so as to feel good about having variety and options but in actual fact, always stick to that favourite baby blue all the time.  Or worse, there is always no time left for eye shadow.)

  • Lipsticks: You can stow your tube lipsticks and your lip pencils for 2 years. As with eye pencils, sharpen your lip pencils before each use.

(I guess the real deal here is to mind your hygiene while using them.  I have to constantly remind lazy self to clean my mouth thoroughly after meals before applying any lip gloss or lip sticks.  I also believe that cleaning out the top layer with a piece of tissue regularly helps prevent any unwanted growth of bacteria.)

  • Blushes and powders: Discard your cream blushes after a year, powder blushes and powders after 2 years.

(I never got round to using cream blushes.  How do others do it without looking like a clown anyway?!? So I am happy to know my powder blushes have a long shelf life.)

  • Foundations and concealers: Moisturizing foundations and stick concealers can hang around for 18 months. A 12-month shelf life applies to both oil-free foundations, which can dry out quickly, and liquid concealers.

  • Using clean brushes and sponges will help lengthen the life of your cosmetics. Be sure and wash or replace your applicators frequently.

(As a WAHM, I have replaced my daily foundation with a milk-based sun-block which finishes faster than I can even track its shelf life! So no problem with this at all.  I do have a BB cream I use on days that my own reflection give me a fright.)