When you have a habit of stepping into Sephora for a “browse” only to walk out an hour later with a makeup haul amounting to upwards of $200 (been there, done that), it makes sense that the thought of tossing out your outdated makeup months after your spree would be enough to break your heart. Unfortunately, when it comes to the shelf lives of a lot of your favorite cosmetic staples, what’s at stake is a lot more than just a less-than-ideal makeup finish; expired makeup could also spell major trouble for your skin, whether that means breakouts from an old makeup sponge, or more serious problems, like blepharitis, or eyelid inflammation, from bacteria on your old mascara.
That being said, keeping track of your makeup’s expiration dates isn’t quite as clear cut of tracking when your milk’s gone bad, since cosmetic companies aren’t required to put an expiration date on their products. One way to avoid using your makeup when it’s past its prime, then, is to just use your judgment. When things start developing a funny-looking consistency, or when something smells a little questionable, it’s safe to say that you can move on. Luckily, when even your best judgement doesn’t feel like quite enough, you can follow a list of general expiration date guidelines to keep you in the clear. Just make sure that you make a note of when you first open your makeup, and then be sure to toss it once you go beyond the recommended shelf life for your products.