Expired Makeup: How To Tell When It Goes Bad + How To Recycle Makeup

March 03, 2021 7 min read

Elate Beauty Zero Waste Makeup

If you're anything like me, you would rather use up every last drop of your makeup. After all, you paid a lot for it and you don't want to be wasteful, right? Especially when you spend a little extra quiche to get the really good organic and nontoxic stuff. But unfortunately, all makeup has a lifespan.

It can be tempting to hold onto your favorites for months and years on end, especially if you're not a regular makeup-wearer, but cosmetics do need to be tossed and you might be surprised just how short-lived your makeup is.

Keep in mind that the lifespan of your makeup depends on the specific product in question, how it's stored, and whether it's sealed or open.

The fact of the matter is that makeup traps bacteria, so replacing your cosmetics regularly will help keep your skin its happiest and healthiest. Using old, expired makeup can cause skin irritation, breakouts, and even infections and styes in the eye. No thanks.

In this blog, not only are we going to tell you the lifespan of each and every one of your makeup products but we are also going to be giving you tips and tricks on how to extend their life!

We're also going to tell you how to take good care of your makeup brushes and how you can recycle your old makeup packaging (hint: your residential recycling program ain't gonna do it, but we've got the hookup).

First, let's start off with a quick cheat sheet. For more information on how to preserve the life of each of these products and to shop some replacements, click on the makeup categories linked in the table below.

COMPLEXION LIFESPAN
Foundations + Concealers (Liquid + Creme) 6 months - 1 year
Powder Foundation 1 - 2 years
CHEEK
Powder Blush/Bronzer/Highlight 1 - 2 years
Blush/Bronzer/Highlight (Liquid + Creme + Stick) 6 months - 1 year
EYES + BROWS
Eyeshadow 6 months
Eyeliner + Brow Pencils 1 year
Liquid Eyeliner 3 - 6 months
Mascara 3 - 6 months
Brow Gels + Balms 6 months - 1 year
LIPS
Lipstick, lipliner, and lip gloss 1 year

 

Next, let's go over some key rules of tossing makeup:

  1. If it smells bad, toss it.
  2. If the consistency or the color has changed, toss it.
  3. The closer the product is used around your eye, the more frequently you need to replace it.
My favorite pro tip: check out the little jar icon on the packaging - it has a number in there. That tells you the number of months the product is good once opened. However, if you've had a sealed/unused product for over 2 years, it's time to toss that sucker regardless. Be honest, you aren't going to use it.

Now let's get into care and storage tips to prolong your favorite makeup...

Complexion

Liquid + Creme Foundations and Concealers

Zero Gravity Foundation ($42)


Shelf Life: 6 months - 1 year

Care + Storage Tips: The water and oil content in liquid and creme foundations and concealers means that they have a shorter lifespan...

  • Even with preservatives, foundations and concealers will change in texture and performance as they age. A dead giveaway for a spoiled foundation or concealer is if the color has changed!
  • If you're applying a creme foundation or concealer from a stick, we recommend giving it a spray with this alcohol sanitizing mist after each use. Allow to dry before putting the cap back on.
  • Liquid foundations are a little easier to keep clean since they're usually in pump or squeeze packaging - much harder for you to get nastiness up in there.


Powder Foundation

Pressed Mineral Foundation ($24)


Shelf Life: 1-2 years

Care + Storage Tips: The low moisture content in powder products means that they will last longer, but they need to be stored properly...

  • Protect your powders in sealable palettes and compacts and make sure your brushes are clean and totally dry before dipping into your powders.
  • To prolong the life of your powder foundation, we recommend giving your powders a spray with this alcohol sanitizing mist after each use. Allow to dry before closing your palette/compact.

Cheek

Powder Blush/Bronzer/Highlight

Pressed Cheek Color Powder Organic Blush

Pressed Cheek Color ($22)


Shelf Life: 1-2 years

Care + Storage Tips: The low moisture content in powder products means that they will last longer, but they need to be stored properly...

  • Protect your powder brush, bronzer, and highlight in sealable palettes and compacts and make sure your brushes are clean and totally dry before dipping into your powders.
  • To prolong the life of your powder cheek products, we recommend giving your powders a spray with this alcohol sanitizing mist  after each use. Allow to dry before closing your palette/compact.

 

Blush/Bronzer/Highlight (Liquid + Creme + Stick)

Anywhere Creme Multistick Makeup Multistick

The Anywhere Creme Multistick ($35)


Shelf Life: 6 months - 1 year

Care + Storage TipsThe water and oil content in liquid and creme cheek products means that they have a shorter lifespan. Even with preservatives, your creme blush, bronzer, and highlight will change in texture and performance as they age.

  • If you're applying and/or blending a creme or liquid cheek product with your fingers, make sure to have clean and dry hands before use. Give it a sanitizing spray after each use.
  • If you're applying directly from a stick to your skin, we recommend giving it a spray with this alcohol sanitizing mist after each use. Allow to dry before putting the cap back on.

Eyes + Brows

Eyeshadow

Pressed Eye Color Organic Eyeshadow

Pressed Eye Color ($16)


Shelf Life: 6 months

Care + Storage Tips: While it is possible for powder eyeshadows to last as long as powder foundations and cheek products, it's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to makeup products so close to your eyeball.

One of the biggest risks of using expired eye makeup is eye irritation, whether that's redness, inflammation, infection, or styes. To avoid that headache...

  • If you've got a ready-made palette, keep it stored closed and in a drawer. If you've got a bunch of individual eyeshadow pans, it's worth it to invest in a reusable palette where you can store them safely and away from moisture.
  • To prolong the life of your eyeshadows, give them a spray with this alcohol sanitizing mist after each use. Allow to dry before closing your palette.

 

Eyeliner + Brow Pencils

EyeLine Pencil Organic Eyeliner

EyeLine Pencil ($18)


Shelf Life: 1 year

Care + Storage Tips: Pencils have a longer lifespan since they're constantly being sharpened. To extend the life of your eye and brow pencils, store them away from humidity, and if they have a cap, put that thang on!


Liquid Eyeliner

Liquid EyeLine Organic Liquid Eyeliner

Shelf Life: 3-6 months

Care + Storage Tips: We've all noticed that our liquid liners get clumpy, dry, and crusty as they age. They're also collecting bacteria and brewing inside the tube. It's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to makeup products so close to your eyeball.

 

Mascara

Elate Essential Mascara ($28)


Shelf Life: 3-6 months

Care + Storage Tips: We've all experienced flaky mascara. But old mascara can do more than annoy you and ruin your look - they brew bacteria in the tube and can cause irritation, inflammation, infections, and styes. No thanks. To extend the life of your mascara...

  • When you're getting more product out of the tube, twist the wand, don't pump - pumping introduces more air and bacteria into the product.
  • Don't ever share your mascara!!!

 

Brow Gels + Balms

Elate Brow Balm

Elate Brow Balm ($20)


Shelf Life: 6 months - 1 year

Care + Storage Tips: Most brow gels are similar in formula to mascara, but since they're not going directly next to your eyeball, you've got some wiggle room with a longer lifespan. To extend the life of your brow gel...

  • When you're getting more gel out of the tube, twist the wand, don't pump - pumping introduces more air and bacteria into the product.

Our fan favorite Brow Balm and Soapbox Brows have more moisture content than brow pencils, and are often applied from a pan or tin. To extend the life of your balm-type brow product...

  • Make sure you're applying with a clean and totally dry brush.
  • Give your product pan a spray with this alcohol sanitizing mist after each use. Allow to dry before closing up and storing the product pan/tin.
  • For our Brow Balm specifically, we highly recommend storage in one of our reusable and sealable palettes.
  • For our Soapbox Brows specifically, we highly recommend spraying your spoolie with this alcohol sanitizing mist after each use.

    Lips

    Lipstick, lipliner, and lip gloss

    Lip Creme Nontoxic Lipstick

    Lip Crème ($23)


    Shelf Life: 1 year

    Care + Storage Tips: You'll know it's time to toss your favorite lippie when its texture has changed - a super waxy (or melty) cream lipstick, a goopy liquid lip, and a rough lip liner are all telltale signs to say goodbye. To prolong the life of your lip products...

    • Store them at room temp! Don't let those puppies bake in your hot (or freezing) car.

    A Word On Your Makeup Brushes

    Eco Friendly Makeup Brush

    When is the last time you washed your makeup brushes? Like, really washed them with a brush cleaner or gentle shampoo? Or even just the last time you used a safe alcohol spray to sanitize?

    Just like your cosmetics collect bacteria, so do your makeup brushes. We recommend washing your makeup brushes at least 2X monthly (ideally every week), and sanitizing at least 1X weekly. I personally use our gentle, sulfate-free Shampoos to wash my brushes.

    Pro tip: when you wash your brushes, let them dry flat. If you dry them upside down, water gets into the ferrule (the metal part where all the bristles come together with the handle), it will degrade the bristles while also trapping bacteria.

    You'll know it's time to replace your brushes when they're shedding, frayed, and/or rough.


    How To Recycle Your Makeup

    At this point, you might be wondering, but what do I do with my old makeup?! The good news? You can, indeed, recycle makeup packaging. But not through your residential or commercial recycling provider.

    We've got the hookup with TerraCycle®, a social enterprise Eliminating the Idea of Waste®. Their specialized facilities mean that they collect typically non-recyclable items through national, first-of-their-kind recycling platforms. And we've got their recycling box just for beauty products!

    The main thing to keep in mind: your makeup packaging needs to be 90% clean in order for Terracycle to be able to process and recycle it. To learn more about how you can recycle your empty makeup containers with our Terracycle program, watch the video below.

    Have any questions, comments, or concerns? Feel free to send us a note.

    Until next time,
    Gabi Day


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