Here's how long you should keep makeup items before they need to be thrown out

Just as it's necessary to have a deep clean of the backs of our fridges every so often, it's important to do the same with our makeup bags. I mean, you wouldn't like to eat yoghurt that's speckled with mould and gone clumpy – let alone smear it on your face, would you?

Just as food can go off and grow bacteria, makeup has an expiry date that needs to be respected too. Most products will have a "Period After Opening" symbol on the label telling you how many months you should keep them for. It looks like this:

period after opening makeup product how long should you use them Credit: Pinterest

And yep, that means you should probably throw out that old cheap lipstick you got from your aunt five Christmases ago. In general, you should always remember to keep the lids on, wash your makeup brushes regularly, and throw away anything that's starting to discolour, smell funny or change consistency. But here is a more precise guide to each makeup item and how long it should last.

1. Mascara – three to six months

This is the product you'll have to replace most often. Once it dries out or changes texture – it's time to go. Never try to add water to prolong its lifespan, and don't share mascara with friends. And please, PLEASE don't think you can use the same mascara you wore while you had your eye infection.

2. Liquid foundation and concealer – 6 to 12 months

All products that are more liquid-y contain a higher percentage of water, oils and hydrating agents. These help bacteria grow quicker than drier products, leading to bacterial contamination and the product drying out or becoming lumpy. Throw it out before this happens or you'll give yourself even more blemishes to try and cover up!

3. Powders, highlighters, blush and bronzers – 2 years

Compact powders will last much longer than liquid products, so long as you keep the lids closed and don't drop them on the floor (RIP, all those good highlighters that were gone too soon).

4. Eyeshadow – two years

Powder eyeshadows will last a long time, given you don't contaminate them with brushes that had other products like primer on them. And if you prefer a cream eyeshadow, they'll only last six months due to the moisture in them being a good habitat for bacteria (the same goes for cream blushes).

5. Liquid eyeliner – six months or less

If it's liquid and goes near your eyes, the chance of bacteria growth is high so you should throw it out sooner rather than risk infection. A pencil eyeliner, on the other hand, will last up to two years.

4. Lipliner – two years

Expect a good couple of years together if you sharpen it regularly and put the cap on between uses.

5. Lipstick and gloss – one year

Lipstick can last surprisingly long if you give it some TLC. Wipe the top every so often to remove bacteria and never leave the lid off. Lipgloss has half the life-expectancy of lipstick, mainly because it's more liquid and will dry out faster.

6. Moisturizers and skincare – one to two years

Most cleansers, moisturizers and serums should last a year at least, depending on the water percentage. However if your skincare products are "preservative-free" and made from all-natural ingredients, they could be more prone to bacterial contamination and thus a reduced shelf life.

7. Nail polish – two years

If you've ever made the mistake of leaving your nail polish lid off, you'll know that it goes hard once it's exposed to the air for too long. Once opened, the ingredients evaporate which makes the polish thicken and separate, explaining why nail polish will gradually change texture, thickness and even colour each time you use it.

8. Fragrances – eight to ten years

As long as you store them right (away from bright light and heat), your favourite perfumes should last for a very long time.

Time for a spring clean of your makeup drawer? I think so too...