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We get that it’s difficult to throw away that eyeshadow palette that cost you half a day’s pay, but old cosmetics can trap bacteria and fungal growth, which can lead to skin irritation, breakouts, and eye infections. No thank you! While this is a worst-case scenario, old products won’t perform as well as they once did, meaning it’s probably worth ditching your old ones instead of hoarding. Plus, a cluttered makeup space is never a great feeling in the morning when you’re trying to rush out the door!

Thankfully, some makeup can last a few years, and it’s fresh until you first open it, after which your products will start to oxidise and degrade. If a product starts to smell bad or has separation or a change in texture, this is a dead giveaway that it needs to go. If you aren’t sure, we’ve put together a guide on how long each makeup product should last (and how you can make them last longer!), so you can do a spring clean and get some order in your cosmetics collection.

Mascara and Liquid Eyeliner

Lasts around 3 months

We know it isn’t a long time, but this is one you’ll want to stick to if you want to avoid eye infections. These products are a dark, wet environment where bacteria thrive, not to mention most mascara starts to get clumpy and go off quickly. Make sure you don’t ever share mascara or liquid eyeliner to prevent even more bacteria, and as soon as it gets clumpy you’ll need to throw it out.

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Liquid and Cream Foundation

Lasts 6 months to 1 year

If your foundation is starting to separate it’s definitely time to get rid of it, but to make it last up to a year you should never use your fingers (or a brush) directly on or in the bottle. This will be introducing bacteria each time and letting it fester. Instead, squeeze or pump it out onto the back of your hand, then use your fingers or a brush to apply from there.

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Lip Gloss

Lasts up to 1 year

If your gloss is smelling a bit strange, is clumpy or far thicker than when you bought it, it has probably gone off and it’s time to throw it out. Otherwise, a lip gloss can stay fresh for around a year.

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Lasts 1 to 2 years

If you notice a change in texture, such as a dry or goopy feel, it’s time to let it go. Your lipstick will last longer in a cool, dry place. You can also occasionally swipe the top of your lipstick with a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean off bacteria and use it safely for longer.

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Pencil Eyeliner and Brow Pencils

Lasts up to 2 years

If you keep your pencil eyeliners sharpened and out of humidity (e.g. a steamy bathroom), they can last a couple of years. Sharpening your pencils is technically a method of cleaning them, as by shaving off a few layers you’ll get the fresh, clean pencil beneath.

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Powder Makeup

Lasts up to 2 years

Bronzers, blushes, powder eyeshadows, setting powders and highlighters will last a while longer than other products, being that minimal moisture (and hence bacteria) should get into them. Make sure you clean your makeup brushes every week or so though – these can be full of nasties.

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