Makeup Bag 101: What to Toss, What to Keep

Cleaning out your makeup bag isn't the most fun of tasks, but what you may not realize is how necessary it is. Of course, there are always key items to tote around with the rest of your cosmetics, but there are also some items that may need a mandatory replenishing. The life span of your products may not be as long as you may think, which can lead to irritation and sometimes infection. Here are some tips on keeping your cosmetic bag healthy and gorgeous.


Mascara has a shelf life of only three months. We all probably use it longer than that, but our eyes are easily subject to irritation. Throw yours away after 90 days or before that if your mascara or wands become clumped and dry.


Eyeliner in liquid form also has a life span of three months. I know we all like to keep those fun glitter liners for as long as we can, but liquid eyeliner is a bacteria magnet. Eye pencils, however, have a shelf life of three to four years as long as you consistently sharpen them.


Foundations usually last about six months if you haven't used it up by then, but you can push it to a year—and I stress the phrase "push it". If your foundation bottle has a pump, however, it can last longer because you aren't physically touching the liquid with your fingers. Fingers equal germs, so the less contact the better. Try an application sponge for increased longevity. On the other hand, powder foundations last much longer. They can sustain a good two years before becoming undesirable. A good rule of thumb is to do the sniff test: if your makeup smells off, chances are it's gone bad.


Bronzers and blushes in powder or compact form follow suit with foundations and can last two or more years. In liquid form, however, you can push it from six months to about eight, but I wouldn't go much longer than that. 


Concealers last about a year, but many of us use concealer even more than our other cosmetics, so you're most likely going to run out of it way before then.


Brushes are difficult to part with, but if you consistently clean your brushes, you'll be able to hold onto them much longer. Once a week is best, but once every two weeks is more realistic. Abused bristles will not help you either. If your brush looks a little too dirty or ratty, buy a new one. Bad brushes can cause breakouts and nobody wants that.

Lipstick and Glosses

Lips are the trickiest. Sometimes brands like to discontinue our favorite shades and we will never let them go. Lip glosses, lip liners, and glosses all last about two to three years. If you can't bear to part with your favorite hues, I understand and I'll look the other way. But when your lip gloss starts to separate inside its container, toss it or beware.