Spring Cleaning: When to Toss Your Makeup

Are you still rocking the same tube of MAC Fetish lipstick that you wore at your college graduation? Is your blush so worn down that you're using the last bit around the edges? If so, you have Beauty Separation Anxiety and, like Michael Jackson said, you are not alone. Unfortunately, it can be unsanitary to hold on to your makeup forever (bacteria and oil can build up on the products). Here, we chatted with celebrity makeup artist Oslyn Holder (Janelle Monae and Bette Midler are clients) about how to know when to toss your cosmetics.
ESSENCE.COM Jun, 03, 2010

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Are you still rocking the same tube of MAC Fetish lipstick that you wore at your college graduation? Is your blush so worn down that you’re using the last bit around the edges? If so, you have Beauty Separation Anxiety and, like Michael Jackson said, you are not alone. Unfortunately, it can be unsanitary to hold on to your makeup forever (bacteria and oil can build up on the products). Here, we chatted with celebrity makeup artist Oslyn Holder (Janelle Monae and Bette Midler are clients) about how to know when to toss your cosmetics.

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The telltale sign you’re lipstick is done? When it gets that “crayon” smell! “Definitely toss it when it smells like Crayola or Play-Doh,” says Holder. “Or, if the pigment is no longer there—meaning you don’t get the same payoff you once did—it’s time to give it up.”

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“You can hold onto lipgloss for about a year, but then you need to toss it,” explains Holder. “It’ll start to smell a little funny and thicken up a bit any longer than that.” Also, make sure you store your gloss in a cool, dry place—not a hot car (this can cause the gloss to break down and become runny)!

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According to Holder, powder-based products like eyeshadows, blushes and pressed powders can last up to two years. “But if the powder starts developing a film along the surface, throw it away,” says Holder. “This is a buildup of oil from your skin.” She has a genius trick to remove the film, though: Simply apply scotch tape and pull off the top layer!

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If you’re super-attached to your eye or lip pencil, no worries—you won’t need to toss it anytime soon! “I keep my pencils forever,” says Holder. “Since you keep sharpening it, you’re constantly renewing the surface and it doesn’t have a chance to get bacteria buildup.”

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Nail polish turns gooey or thick when it’s too old, which is after a year or two. Don’t be tempted to thin out your polish by adding water! This ruins the formula—instead, try a nail polish thinner like Zoya Renew Polish Rejuvenator ($8).

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“Unless makeup is 100% natural, it has preservatives in it,” says Holder. “And once the preservatives break down—which, for foundation, happens in a year to fifteen months—the product is done!” She adds that if your foundation separates, gets clumpy or starts to smell, definitely toss it before the year mark.

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“Trash your mascara every three months, or sooner if it starts to smell,” advises Holder. “Your eyes are wet and the mascara is wet, so it’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Liquid eyeliner is the same way.” She also says never to share eye products—it’s the easiest way to contract an infection like pinkeye!

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When it comes to cream blush or blush sticks, Holder recommends tossing them after a year. “For these products, texture is key,” she said. “They can dry out or get stale when they’re passed their expiration date.” Also, make sure the tops are always fastened securely—air can alter the products chemical makeup.

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According to Holder, brush bristles hold on to the oil from your face, so it’s important to shampoo your makeup brushes every other week. “I use Dawn dishwashing detergent to break down the grease, but baby shampoo works wonders, as well.” To do, gently work the cleanser through the bristles, and then thoroughly rinse. Always dry the brushes flat, not standing up—this can cause water to seep down into the handle and loosen the glue holding the hair together.