by Aaisha Zafar Islam


A survey conducted last year revealed that British women kept, and in most cases used their old make up for a good six years after it had expired. Beauty products, like all things, have a best before time. However women are more likely to not bother with spring cleaning their make up stashes, thereby increasing risks of infections and adverse reactions to their make up. It’s not the make up ladies, it would be better if you keep an eye on when you got your beauty supplies and how long you have been using them.

Here is a quick guide on the shelf life of a beauty product. As long as their seals are intact, they are new and can last forever. But the moment you open the seal and start using them, the ticker starts on their best-by dates.

More recently drugstore brands have upped their game and offer great value for money. For products that have to be replaced often they are a better choice.

Eye Products


One of the leading causes of eye infections is mascara that is well past its ‘best-before’ date. Mascara should be replaced every three to four months. An expensive, high end formula will become a breeding ground for bacteria at the same rate as a drugstore one. One of the reasons Sonia Kashuk, make up maven and creator of an eponymous make up brand for Target, rates drugstore mascaras higher than ‘prestige’ ones is the fact that you have to replace them so very often.

Liquid Eyeliners

Like mascara, every time you take out the fine lining tip to line your eyes, you are exposing it to air-borne germs and bacteria. It gathers dust and grime from the atmosphere, not to mention eye shadow it might pick up from the lids as liners and mascara are the final touches in every make up look.

Four months tops, and you should be shopping for a new liquid liner. Another reason drugstore versions trump their more expensive counterparts.

Gel/Cream Eyeliners

As long as you are diligent about using a clean brush every time you dip it in the pot, your cream/gel eyeliners can last longer than liquid products. They can last for about a year, but be careful of contamination and keep an eye out for them going bad.

Eye Shadows

Powder products last longer, so your favourite eye shadow palette is good to use for years. Again, be careful about your brushes, use only clean brushes for make up application and sanitize them after every use.

This is where high end products have an edge. Drugstore formulas lack the intensity, pigmentation and finish that the more expensive ones offer, so it is a good idea to invest in an eye shadow palette with colours that you use most.

Cream shadows, on the other hand, have a shorter shelf life, around 12 – 18 months. But they pack a punch in the pigment department, so you might want to consider inexpensive drugstore versions.

Eyeliner pencils

A veritable workhorse, eyeliner pencils last a very long time. All you have to do is sharpen the tip to rid of grime-ridden part and it is good to use. Unless it is two years or older, at which point you should chuck it out and go shopping again.


Liquid and cream foundation/Tinted Moisturizer/BB or CC Creams

This is an area where you should splurge. A great base product can make or break your whole look.

Most liquid face products are water based and thus have a short shelf life. At most you should use a liquid face product for a year and then consider replacing it. Warning signs that your favourite face shade is out of shape include separation – you can see liquid floating atop denser pigments, or it smells bad!

Keep in mind that our complexion experiences a change in colour through the seasons. You cannot remain the same colour match all year long, and certainly not for life.

Concealers and cream/gel/liquid blush

Again, being liquids, they have a shorter shelf life. At most they are good for around eight months.

You can prolong their life by storing and using them in drier places. The washroom is a humid environ, for instance, and not a place where you should be applying your make up in the first place.

Face Powders and powder blush

Whether pressed or loose, powders will last you for a good two to three years. However you have to make sure that you use only clean applicators when you use it, every single time.

Lipsticks and glosses

Did you know that during recession the one personal item that sees a rise in sales is the lipstick. A staple in every woman’s beauty arsenal, a good lipstick is an instant mood lifter. On average a woman possesses eight lipsticks of which only two see regular use. Others are impulse buys.

No matter how much you find the colour and finish flattering, a lipstick should be replaced after 12-18 months at most.

Lip glosses on the other hand, should be used within eight to twelve months, or thrown out earlier if they have gone bad.

Lip liners

Like their eye counterparts, lip liners age well, up to two years. After a while you will find that the formula has hardened and does not apply as smoothly, no matter how much you sharpen it. That is the time to get a new liner. Better still, get a universal shade in lip liners, so you don’t have to fuss with matching liner to lip colours. It also means replacing just one lip pencil every two years.

Make Up Tools

Invest in quality make up tools, brushes and sponges and your beauty routine will get snazzier. Good make up brushes do cost a pretty penny, but if you take proper care of them, they last you years and make make up application a breeze.


About the author:

A trained communications specialist by profession and a beauty product junkie by passion, Aaisha Zafar Islam loves writing about her babes and her latest beauty experiments.

Image by DarkWorkX on Pixabay