What should you do with your old makeup?

As the winter months approach, you may be looking forward to going out with friends and loved ones, attending events, or even going on a holiday vacation. But if you’ve rarely opened your makeup bag since the beginning of the pandemic, you may wonder – “Should I still use any of this?”

Kim Chang, licensed aesthetician with the Aesthetics Studio at Baylor Medicine, shares advice for when to discard makeup and tips for upkeep and cleaning in the following Q&A.

Q: Are there certain types of makeup products that last longer than others?
A: Yes – makeup made with powder such as eyeshadow, blush and finishing powder last longer. Makeup that has oils such as foundation, lipstick, mascara and cream blush can go rancid faster.

Q: When should makeup be discarded?
A: Makeup that contains oils such as foundation, sunscreen and cream blush last about a year. If it starts to smell different, or visual separation of oil takes place – discard it. Most cosmetics have a picture of an opened jar with a number inside it on the box. The number indicates the shelf life in months for the product after opening. A good habit is to date all of your skincare and cosmetics with a marker when you open them to keep track of the date.


As for eyeliner and mascara, three months is the max life. Because of the frequency that it comes in contact with your eyes, it can harbor bacteria, cause irritation or have other more serious complications.

Powders like eyeshadow and blush can last longer – about two years before discarding, as long as you’re using clean brushes regularly.

If you don’t remember when you purchased the cosmetic, it’s probably been too long.

Q: Are there any skin or health risks when using older makeup?
A: Yes – expired or older products can cause breakouts or eye infections.

Q: What about other materials and brushes that haven’t been used in a while? Is this a factor?
A: Foundation sponges are a real hit right now. However, many people don’t clean them regularly and continue to use them without washing. Because the sponges are porous, it’s easy for bacteria to grow. Imagine using the same dish sponge over and over without washing it. The same care goes for foundation sponges, because the continuous contact with your skin along with cosmetics can be problematic.

A good habit is to wash your brushes quickly with a mild soap right after each use and dry them upright. This is an especially good habit for oilier skin types that are prone to breakout.

Q: Does temperature matter?
A: Yes – keeping your cosmetics at room temperature where it’s not too hot can help keep the shelf life of your cosmetics. Heat can degrade products and the oils can go bad. Never leave them in your car.

Q: Any other tips or advice for those starting to wear makeup again?
A: Since it’s been a while, and we’re still having to mask in certain areas, I recommend not wearing full foundation and swapping it out for a tinted sunscreen. Tinted sunscreens give a nice glow foundation look without being too heavy. A bonus is that it helps prevent skin cancer!

Additional Resources

Learn more about the Aesthetics Studio at Baylor Medicine or call 713–798–8888 to schedule an appointment.

Can you simplify your skincare routine?

-By Nicole Blanton

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