When to discard cosmetics

Beauty and cosmetic enthusiasts around the world gather online daily, attend conventions throughout the year and often use or apply beauty and cosmetic products daily.  We’re not here to talk cosmetics ingredient safety, YET.  Suffice it to say that a variety of brands are used across the world, some more natural than others.  Regardless of the ingredients of the cosmetics, there are no current U.S. regulations that require cosmetic manufacturers to label their products with expiration dates.  European law, however, requires products with a minimum shelf-life of less than 30 months to be marked.  This makes knowing when to discard cosmetics a little tricky.

Proper Storage of Cosmetics

Proper storage of cosmetics is a key factor in the shelf-life of cosmetics, as well as it is for ensuring their safety for use on your body.  The biggest mistake people make when storing cosmetics is storing them in the bathroom, especially if your bath and shower is not enclosed separately from your sink and dressing area.  The humidity and moisture from your bath and shower can often deteriorate makeup.

Powder based products will soften and crumble.   Before you run to your bathroom to dispose of all the crumbled eye shadow, powder and blush compacts that have fallen apart…Cream based products, such as lipsticks, concealers, cream eye shadow and cream blush can capture hidden mold.  Your makeup brushes, if kept damp or wet in humid or moist environments can also capture hidden mold.

The best places to store cosmetics is in a room that’s not connected to a bathroom, at room temperature.  Inconvenience is a small price to pay for safety and your health.

There are a variety of containers in which you can store your cosmetics, away from moisture and humidity.

  • Makeup storage boxes
  • Fishing Tackle Boxes
  • Plastic or Metal Tool Boxes
  • Plastic storage drawers
  • Drawer Organizers or Kitchen Utensil Organizers
  • Woven baskets

When To Discard Cosmetics


  • Eye makeup is the most concerning, due to the possibility of eye infections.
    • Replacing pencil eyeliner every 3-6 months is recommended and feasible due to their low-cost.
    • Liquid eyeliner should have an expiration date on the bottom of the bottle or box.
    • Shadows should be discarded every 12 months or if their consistency is compromised.  Hardened, softened or broken shadows are a sign that the quality has been compromised.
    • Mascara, recently in the news for containing mercury, is the most volatile when it comes to shelf-life.  Clumping, dryness and strange odors are an indication that it’s time to throw the mascara tube away and replace it.  Manufacturer’s recommend replacing mascara every 2 to 4 months AFTER PURCHASE.
  • Lipstick and lip gloss should be discarded within 6 to 12 months after first use.
  • Liquid Foundations may contain a small symbol on the bottle or box, with a shelf life displayed in the number of months after opening.  (i.e. 2m, 6m, 9m).  A good sign that your foundation is kaput is when it’s separates, leaving a visible layer of oil.  DON’T just shake it up to mix it.  TOSS IT!
  • Natural cosmetics, containing plant-based ingredients are more susceptible to microbial growth.

Shelf life and expiration dates of cosmetics, whether listed on the actual product or not, are simply guidelines.  Many factors can attribute to the early demise of cosmetics, specifically improper storage of cosmetics as well as sharing cosmetics.  In the case of expired or compromised cosmetics, beauty is more than just skin deep.