How long does foundation keep? Here's when it's time to bin your makeup once opened
Even though many of us use it every day, there are plenty of things we don't know about makeup - like how long does foundation keep.
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?
On the days where we do dare to dip into the reject pile, it can be a lifesaver, but just how bad is it for our face? And how long ago should we have let them go?
How long does foundation keep?
Most products will have a "Period After Opening" symbol on the label telling you how many months you should keep them for.
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.
Foundation and Concealer
Fortunately, your face base has a fairly long shelf life, lasting between six months and two years depending on the type, with pump versions lasting considerably longer than those in a pot. To be fair, if you can stretch either out to longer than six months, then you’re a better woman than me.
You can spot the signs of expiration by looking for oil settling on the top and a thickening consistency, leaving you with a streaky and uneven finish. And chuck out the ones that didn’t suit your skin type now - you’re only ever going to regret dipping back into them.
Unfortunately, your secret weapon is the one you should be hanging on to for the least amount of time. With everyday use, mascara should be changed every three months, although will last for six if you’re only using it here and there.
Why the urgency? Because mascara harbours bacteria like nothing else, taking it from the world into our eyes and vice versa, and hibernating in that little wet tube.
Oh, and pumping it to get more out will actually have the opposite effect, drying it out even more quickly and jamming bacteria further in. Lovely.
Just as mascara gets wet and grimy, so too does liquid eyeliner. You wouldn’t let them double-dip at a waxing salon, would you?
Think of it in the same way, and be sure to throw it out after three months or so. Hey, at least you can use it as an excuse to try a new brand; the search for the perfect (and annoyingly elusive) cat flick is only too real.
The good news is your eyeliner pencil should last considerably longer, due to the fact that you’re constantly sharpening it and therefore removing the lingering layer of bacteria.
Still, look out for a layer of muck that just won’t budge and take it as a sign that it's too far gone. Even without this, it’s best to swap it for a new one every year or two, but keep your peepers extra clean by taking the time to clean the sharpener with rubbing alcohol regularly.
Generally, powdered eyeshadows should be good to go for a couple of years, although wetter forms such as cream shadow will have a shorter expiration date, of around the six-month mark. As you would with food, if it smells a bit funky, changes in consistency, or becomes discoloured then it’s time to let it go.
They say eyebrows can make or break a face. But there’s no point in spending money getting them plucked, waxed or threaded to perfection if you’re just going to ruin them with a dodgy pencil.
Brow pencils can last up to two years and benefit from the same sharpening tricks as liquid eyeliner, but when they start messing up your power brows, it’s time to say goodbye.
Blush and Bronzer
You’ve probably got the message by now - powder lasts longer than cream - but after 18 months or so it’s still time to ditch the blush powder. In the meantime, look out for a hard surface developing on the product, which means that oil from your cheeks has transferred into the pot.
The same goes for cream blush; keeping it for too long will not only spread bacteria, but cause it to develop a dull tinge, which is probably the opposite of the dewy, glowing look you were aiming for.
Ahhhh, the one we’re all most guilty of keeping for too long, convincing ourselves that the deep wine shade we purchased on impulse will look great one day. Fortunately, lipsticks are so packed with so many preservatives that they can last between one and two years, although the quality does start to reduce.
Watch out for a chalky and uneven finish or an odd scent, but keep them tip-top by giving them a wipe with a little rubbing alcohol once in a while.
That pesky wet tube effect makes an appearance again here, with lip gloss generally only lasting a maximum of a year or so. A funny smell, taste or a super sticky texture will likely be the first indication that it’s time for a refresh. Liquid lipstick may stay on your lips forever, but the same rule applies for it too.
Well kept, make-up brushes can actually last a surprisingly long time, so always store brushes with the bristles up and don’t forget to clean your brushes regularly - 70 per cent of women admit to never doing this, despite the fact that they can spread bacteria and lead to breakouts.
Unsurprisingly, bristles falling out and leaving a trail of hair over your face is a sign that it’s time to invest in a new collection.
The truth is most of us have at least one thing in our make-up bag that’s been hanging around longer than our last boyfriend did. And just like that old flame, keeping your mangy products around is doing you no favours, no matter how much you might love them.
And the same may just go for your skincare products. Either way, the verdict is clear: now is the time to break up with your old make-up - and to flirt with that new brand or shade you’ve been secretly eyeing up.