How to Clean Out Your Makeup Bag

How to Clean Out Your Makeup Bag

Know when to hold onto and when to throw away all the goodies in your makeup bag.

By: Anne L. Fritz

We all know you should purge anything in your closet you haven't worn for two years or more, but what about makeup?

It's trickier when it comes to cosmetics, because different items have different lifespans. Yet it's even more important to regularly clean out your makeup bag, because makeup that is past its prime won't go on as easily and, worse, can even lead to infections in some cases. Here's a handy list of what to toss when.

This is the biggie. Mascara has a life of three months. Use it longer than that, and you're putting yourself at risk for eye infections. Mark the date on your calendar or put a sticker on the wand itself so you don't forget to replace it after 90 days.

Liquid Eyeliner
Like mascara, it has a lifespan of about three months. Not only will it dry out, making it hard to apply and cakey, but bacteria flourish in the liquid formula.

Liquid Foundation
How long your foundation can last depends on the formula and the pump. A cream foundation or a bottle with a larger neck will need to be tossed at the six-month mark. Why? As anyone who has ever caught a cold knows, bacteria and germs on fingers can do some serious damage. Try applying it with a sponge to keep things more sanitary.

A liquid foundation that has a pump top can last longer, because your fingers aren't touching the product, but that doesn't mean you're home free if your makeup has a more sanitary pump top — you'll want to toss it if you see that it has separated, because it may go on streaky.


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And the second anything starts to smell funky, it's time to put it in the recycling bin. Besides, you should be switching foundations shades with the seasons, going lighter in winter and darker in summer, so you have a built-in reminder

Mineral and Powder Makeup
Bronzers, blushes and mineral foundations can last up to two years. That said, be sure you wash your brushes on a weekly basis to prevent any bacteria, dirt or grim from your face from transferring to the product and affecting the formula.

Eyeliner and Lip Pencils
These can last up to two years, but remember to sharpen them before using them every single time. If you like a softer point, gently warm it up with your (clean!) fingers after sharpening. You'll also want to regularly wipe your sharpener with a swipe of rubbing alcohol. For self-sharpening pencils (eye, lip or brow), toss after six months.

Lipstick and Lip Gloss
These can both last up to two years. Lip gloss has an edge particularly over long-wearing lipsticks, however, that may dry out with age. Toss your gloss when you see it start to separate.

Nail Polish
You'll know it's time to toss your favorite polish when it separates or is so dried out that you can't get it out of the bottle or goes on streaky or clumpy.

For better results, keep your makeup brushes clean. Checkout How to Clean Makeup Brushes using paper towels.

Anne L. Fritz is a co-founder of The Jet Set Girls, which focuses on girls' getaways, and editor of's 15-Minute Fashion and a regular contributor to Prior to launching JSG, Anne was style director at Life & Style magazine and fashion and beauty editor at Woman's Day.

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What a great read and this is something I have to start doing.

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Great article

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