• Moh Shuying

Keeping It On The Shelf

Our fuss-free guide to how long your beauty products really last.

We get it, it’s totally tempting to want to keep that gorgeous (but seldom worn) red lipstick around, or to hoard that expensive moisturiser. But in the same way we don’t want to eat expired food, you shouldn't be using skincare and makeup that have outlived their shelf life.

If your beauty products start to smell a little “off” or you notice a change in texture or colour, then it might be time to toss it. After all, you don’t want to be applying products that have begun to decompose and harbouring bacteria on your face or near your eyes.

Generally, beauty buys that are kept in a cool, dry place tend to last longer. However, if you’re not sure just from sight or smell if your products are going bad, here’s an easy to use guide to help you estimate how long to keep your skincare and makeup.


Shelf life: 1 year

While most facial washes can last for about 12 months – though unless you are using about three to four different ones at the same time, you should finish a tube in about three months if you’re cleansing twice a day – creamy cleansers tend to go bad slightly faster as they have oils in them.


Shelf life: 1 year

These power-packed potions tend to be well sealed to protect their ingredients, so they don't go “bad” as fast as other skincare. However, because certain active ingredients like vitamin C can become less stable after some time, they might lose their potency after about a year.


Shelf life: 6 months to 1 year

Creams tend to be housed in beautiful jars or tubs, which means it’s more exposed to air and bacteria, especially if you’re scooping up the product with your fingers instead of a spatula. If notice that your cream is starting to separate, then it’s time to say goodbye.


Shelf life: 1 to 2 years

Sun protection can last longer than most other skincare products, especially if you – kinda ironic – keep them out of the sun and in a cool place, because heat can break down the active agents faster. The easiest way to find out if your sunscreen has gone bad is to check its consistency. If you notice a change in texture, it’s probably not going to be as effective.


Shelf life: 3 to 6 months

These little wands have probably the shortest shelf life of any beauty product. For one, they tend to dry out faster. Also, it’s applied near your eyes, which can lead to moisture from your peepers transferring to your tube, making it a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Our recommendation would be to toss it once your mascara starts to become clumpy, or once it reaches the six-month mark.


Shelf life: 6 to 12 months

While lippies have preservatives to keep it “safe” to use for about a year, once the stick starts to dry and crack, or the colour starts to change, it’s probably time to say goodbye.


Shelf life: 6 to 12 months

How long your foundation lasts largely depends on how you use it. Liquid foundations that you squeeze out from a tube can be kept for about a year. However, cream or stick foundation that requires “double dipping” with your fingers or beauty blenders should be tossed after six months, because the oils or acne on your face can contaminate your foundation.