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How Long Should You Keep Makeup?

Expiration dates for cosmetics explained.

By Shelley Levitt

Reviewed by Karyn Grossman, MD

WebMD Magazine - Feature

Q: "I never throw makeup out. How bad is that?"

A: Makeup products don’t carry a 'best by' date. But they do have built-in expiration dates. Here’s a general guide.

Mascara & liquid eyeliner: Every time you put the wand back into the tube, you’re letting in  bacteria. These products have the shortest shelf life. Replace every 3 to 4 months.

Liquid foundation: Stored away from heat, foundation can remain stable for up to a year. If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, don’t dip your finger into the bottle. Apply with a brush or sponge, and don’t double dip.

Lip gloss & lipstick: These are less likely than liquid-based makeup to grow bacteria. It’s safe to hold on to them for at least 6 months and the lipstick for a year.

Powders: Unless you notice a funny smell or the color has turned, you can safely use powder-based products for 18 months to 2 years. -- Rebecca Tung, MD, division director, Dermatology, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Ill.

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