Use it, then lose it


How long should you keep products? Expert opinions vary a bit, but dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi recommends the following:

Cream and gel cleansers: One year

Serums: Six months

Liquid foundation: Six months if it is in squeezable packaging, two months in any other form

Concealer: Three months

Loose powder: Two years

Pressed powder: 18 months

Liquid highlighter: Two months

Eye shadow: Two years if powder, two months if it’s cream, unless it is in a squeezable or airtight container

Mascara: Three months (but discard sooner if it dries out)

Eyeliner: Up to three years for pencils that are sharpened regularly, two months for cream or liquid eyeliners

Blush: Two years for powder, two months for cream

Makeup sponges: Wash after each use and throw away after two weeks

Lipstick: One year

Lip gloss: 18 months

Lip liner: Up to three years if sharpened regularly

Nail polish: One year

The FDA also offers a few helpful tips:

— Keep everything clean. Always wash your hands before applying a product, and avoid putting fingers in cosmetics. Instead, use a clean spatula, disposable sponge or cotton swab.

— Don’t share cosmetics.

— Say “no” to kohl. Not the hue, but the ingredient kohl. It isn’t approved for cosmetic use in the United States because of lead and other dangers.

— Avoid eye products if you have an eye infection, and throw away lip products if you’ve used them during an illness.

— Store cosmetics in airtight containers, away from sunlight and at temperatures lower than 85 degrees.

— Try the smell test. If products have an unusual or foul odor, discard them. Also discard if there are changes in texture, consistency or color.

— Avoid pumping the mascara wand in and out of the tube, which can allow air and bacteria to get in. Instead, twist it slowly in a circle.

— Be aware that all-natural or preservative-free cosmetics usually have a shorter shelf life than products with preservatives and must be tossed sooner.

— Alene Dawson