Beauty Spring Cleaning: What to Purge, What to Prep

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re applying your mascara and you think, “Is it time for me to buy a new tube? And, for that matter, is my foundation still good? What’s its shelf life?” I recently got to thinking that, what with the spring season quickly approaching, it might be time for me to do a little spring cleaning.


Knowing that beauty products do expire, I decided to divide my cosmetic drawer into two piles: items that I could recall purchasing and those that were purchased… who knows when.

If I couldn’t remember when I purchased it (and/or when I wore it last), into the trash it went. Was this the most cost-effective way to handle things? Probably not, so I thought it might be helpful for me and all of you to get myself organized and then write out a quick guide to the shelf life and care of beauty staples.

Brushes: Wash every 2–3 months with a brush cleaner for sanitary reasons, to keep the brush’s shape and to avoid breakage of the hairs.

Cream and gel cleansers: Up to 1 year.

Concealer: Up to 12 months.

Eyeshadow: Up to 3 years.

Foundation: Water-based foundation will last up to 12 months. Oil-based foundation will last up to 18 months.

Beauty Tip: As you transition your foundation from one season to the next—lighter for winter, darker for summer—mixing the two shades together can help gradually achieve the foundation shade you need while ensuring you’re not wasting any product.

Lipstick: Up to 2 years. (It will last longer if it’s stored in the refrigerator. However, if it smells bad, throw it out!)

Mascara: This product expires the fastest; throw it out after 4 months.

Beauty tip: Pumping your mascara wand in and out of the tube can dry it out quicker. All that extra air not only has a drying effect; it can also introduce unwanted bacteria.

Nail polish: Up to 12 months. Just make sure to shake before you use it to avoid color separation.

Pencil eyeliner and lip liner: Both will last up to 3 years.

Powder: Up to 2 years.

Until next time!

—Debra Redmond, Nordstrom National Beauty Director

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