Spring clean your makeup bag: When to toss cosmetics

If you're in the midst of spring cleaning, don't forget about clearing out your beauty bag, too

Woman applying lipgloss


Q: When should I get rid of my makeup?
With big spring cleaning projects top of mind (Hall closet? Check. Garage? Done.), chances are you’ve overlooked one smaller, yet very important, space: your makeup drawer. Tackling the unwieldy collection of bottles, compacts, pencils and tubes rarely makes the cut when tidying up is on the to-do list, but the fact is, most cosmetics have a much shorter shelf life than you might expect. And for the sake of your health, staying on top of what stays and what goes is important.

Eye on the prize
Mascara should be your first item of inspection, because those wands are only meant to work magic for a short time. Experts and industry pros will tell you three months is the max to hang on to it. So, if you can’t remember when you bought it (and really, who can?), best to toss it and pick up a new tube. Two reasons why: it’s a water-based product so it’s more susceptible to contamination than a powder-based one, and it’s used on your eyes, which can suffer some not-so-pretty side effects if infected.

Longer lasting
There are a few cosmetics that can be used for six months and up to a year. This list includes: concealer, liquid foundation, cream eye shadow and cream blush. But if you notice a funny texture, strange smell or signs of decay (yep, makeup can go mouldy!) sooner than that, it’s certainly time to get rid of it. Powder products and lipstick fare a bit better – you can hold onto them for a year – while pencil liners for eyes and lips are ok for up to two years providing you’re sharpening them regularly and not sharing them any one else – ever.

Brush up
You can complete a cosmetic clear out by considering your storage set up, and taking a closer look at your tools as well. Exposure to heat and direct sunlight can have an adverse effect on makeup and skin care products, so it’s best to move your stash out of the bathroom, away from radiators or windows that aren’t shaded. Lids should always be replaced snugly to keep the goods in, and air and dust out. And don’t forget your brushes! Cleaning them monthly, with a specially formulated brush cleanser, will remove makeup residue and keep bristles in tip-top shape.

Try: Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser, $17.

Related links:
Wellingtons & More! The 10 Best Rain Boots for Spring
Fashion: Spring’s Hottest Accessories Under $100
Fashion Week Fever! Our Favourite Fall/Winter 2012 Looks
Celebrity Photos: Celebs at New York Fashion Week 

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