Is it time to break up with your makeup?

3mls? 3metres? No! 3 months!


I have a confession to make. Despite having lived on this Earth for a full 32 years, I have only JUST figured out what this symbol on products means (ok it was a couple of months ago.. but that is not that long ago!)
Yes! That little container with the numbers on it refers to the use by date/ shelf life of a product once the item has been opened! *facepalm*

So how long are you supposed to be keeping beauty products and is there are way to prolong the life of your fave items?

Nail polish
As a rule the cocktail of god-knows-what in our favourite nail polishes doesn’t really spoil. It is however, important to store your bottles properly to avoid them being damaged by the heat, cold or sunlight as this can change the consistency. It is best to store them upright away from direct sunlight ideally in a drawer or similar storage. Take them out once in a while, roll them around to mix up the formula which may have separated and unscrew and “rescrew” the lid.  One of the best $20 I have ever spent was a bottle of OPI polish thinner as even the oldest polished has been revived using this product.

Liquid and cream Foundation

Foundations vary in their life shelf depending on their formula but as a rule of thumb liquid foundations should be discarded after 12 months. If you’re using the same product every day then you will get through the product without a problem but if you’re the sort of beauty lover that always has three or four different products on the go you might find that it takes you longer than that to finish it. Some tips which might help you to prolong the quality of your foundation include

Pump foundations help reduce contamination

Avoid using your fingers. Don’t put your fingers up against the mouth of the bottle to get product as the natural bacteria from your skin can get into the bottle and cause a health hazard! Go for liquid foundations that have a pump bottle or transfer your favourite liquid foundation into a pump bottle that you can get at most dollar stores (or put it in an old pump foundation bottle)  Purchase the corresponding pump to your foundation if it is available. The added convenience and safety outweighs the additional cost

Store your products properly, as pretty as they might look sitting on your vanity any direct sunlight can ruin your foundation making it thick and less natural looking.  The colour might also change. As with your nail polish, foundation should be stored in a drawer away from heat or light. These also need to be shaken on a regular basis. These rules also apply for liquid or cream concealers and cream blush.

Powder products

Eyeshadows and blushes and pressed face powders often get the most contaminated by bacteria due to poor sanitation, but seeing that they contain less moisture than liquid or crème products they are actually the easiest to sanitize. Blushes can have a life span of any where from 12 months to 3 years and most eyeshadow palettes claim a 12 month use by date but by following these easy suggestions you might get more wear (and safer wear) from these products

Clockwise; Clinique superabalanced foundation
Benefit oxygen wow foundation,
Benefit Theyre real mascara
Nars Orgasm blush

Clean tools; I cant stress the importance of cleaning your brushes enough! Particularly eyeshadow brushes. If you know you wont be able to do it during the week then buy doubles of your favourites. Rubbing a brush all around your eye or face and then sticking it back in the pan is a sure fire way to; 1 introduce oils into the pan (which can cause a crusty layer on the top) and, 2. Introduce bacteria into the pan.

Sanitizing; Put some rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and spritz it lightly over the surface of your powders. The alcohol shouldn’t affect the product ( we have all seen how smashed pans can be repaired using this product) and it should help to disinfect the surface of the product and can also help clean up any powder which may have spilled outside the pan.
Pencils and mascaras.


Mascara use by dates are one thing I tend to stick to.. the problem is that many mascaras get better with a little bit of age and by the time the consistency is perfect its almost time to throw it out.  I admit that I probably hold onto them slightly longer than the recommended 3  months but this is because I have a few going at the same time and don’t use them regularly. Despite this I still bin them after about 4 – 5 months Some mascaras have a little bit longer on them, for example Benefit’s Theyre real have a shelf life of 6 months which gives you plenty of time to get through it!

Eye and lip pencils can be kept for a little longer (usually up to two years) as long as you regularly sharpen them and keep the sharpener clean and sanitized.

This Max Factor lippie lasts a while!

Lipsticks and lip glosses.

Again this is about how you use them. If you are using clean and sanitized lip brushes every time then these can be used for much longer than the specified time. If you are applying straight onto the lip with the tube it is probably best to keep only as long as specified, usually about two years.  I have heard of people using alcohol on a tissue to clean the tip of the lipstick bullet every now and then but I’m not sure that this really works.   Remember though, lipsticks and lipglosses contain oils and waxes and you can often smell when these have gone bad.

Skincare, lotions, haircare products and perfumes also all have recommended use by dates so you should regularly check the tiny print on these products. I have been known to write the opening date on bottles of things in permanent marker to keep track of when to throw them out!

Take care with oraganic or natural products as these will often have a shorter shelf life as they don’t contain as many preservatives as normal cosmetics.

The important thing to remember is that the product will not self destruct if you don’t throw it away after the specified number of months but it does mean that the preservatives that have been used to keep the product fresh and safe may not be as effective anymore. However if you maintain good practise and keep everything as clean as possible you can continue to use the product for a little longer.

A good rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution especially with those products which are moist or used near the eyes. Look at the product, smell the product, if something seems not quite right it might be time to part ways.

Its really hard to get rid of makeup that you have spent good money on and not used as much as you had hoped. I have often wondered after watching all those videos of girls with their massive makeup “collections” how they go with keeping track of what to keep and what to throw out.

Its even harder to throw out colours that you love and which have been discontinued! I for one know that I have products in my collection which have gone way over the recommended expiry date!

Lipstick 'n' Linguine
About me


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AlittlebitUnique // UK blog
Reply February 23, 2014

Some great tips here, thanks for the heads up :)

A little bit Unique Blog/Bloglovin/Instagram/Facebook


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