Healthy Skin

Spring clean your makeup bag

When was the last time you gave your makeup bag a clean? Spring offers the ideal time for fresh starts and the deep cleaning of our homes, but bathroom cabinets and makeup bags often get missed during this process.

There’s a misconception that beauty products don’t go off, however makeup and skincare can harbour germs from our mouths, fingers and eyes – especially if they’re poorly preserved. By using after their best-before dates, we risk (at best) an unpleasant experience, or worse, an infection or nasty skin reaction.

Read on for our lowdown on how to give your makeup bag a spring clean.

How to spring clean your makeup bag

spring clean your make-up bag and brushes Liz Earle WellbeingHow long can cosmetics be kept?

The length of time cosmetics last depends on the type and how you store them. The general rule is that when you notice changes to the smell, colour or consistency of a product, it’s best to move on.
The below can be used as a general guide:

  • Foundation and concealers – 12-18 months
  • Mascara – around 3 months
  • Creams and lotions – 6-12 months
  • Powder, blush and eyeshadow – 1-3 years
  • Lipsticks and glosses – 1-2 years
  • Lip and eye pencils – about 1 year
  • Nail polish – 1 year
  • Sun protection – 1-3 years

How to make your beauty products last

  • Keep fingers away from products– use clean brushes and applicators instead. If you have to use your fingers, make sure they’re freshly washed.
  • Wash cosmetic brushes and applicators at least once a week with a few drops of mild shampoo.
  • Store your products in a cool, dry place to help extend their shelf life – preferably not in a hot and humid bathroom!
  • When you first open a product, use a marker to write the date on the packaging to help you remember when it’s time to give it the toss.
  • If a powder breaks up, you can easily renew it. Mix with a few drops of surgical spirit to form a paste (larger compacts will need more). Pack the paste back into the compact and leave overnight to dry out.

Feeling bad about the waste?

Try a recycling programme. Beauty brands are increasingly accepting returned packaging for recycling, or offering on-counter refill points for liquid products (although there are still questions around the safety and potential product contamination from old containers).

Look for packaging that carries a recycling logo and place in your recycle waste bags when finished. Alternatively, simply return packaging to the counter where it was purchased and ask for the company to organise its recycling.

Want to find out more?

Head to and try the free cosmetic calculator – it uses batch numbers to provide you with expiry dates for your products.

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Wellbeing Wisdom

  • Mark the date on the packaging when you first open a product to help remind you when it’s time to replace it.
  • To extend the shelf life of your products, be sure to store them in a cool, dry place – preferably not in a hot and humid bathroom!
  • Check packaging for the recycling logo and place in your recycle waste bags when finished.