When it comes our old makeup, we’ve all been guilty of overlooking the annual Spring clean. Dried out mascara, 2mm eyeliner and foundation that’s well past it best can all be found lurking at the bottom of our makeup bags. We know our kit has an expiry date, but after blowing hundreds of pounds on pricey primers and lip plumping glosses, we’re not ready to wave goodbye until every each and every drop has graced the contours of our face.

old makeup

And while it may be easier to bury our heads in the latest beauty counter buys, we’re not doing our skin any favours in the process. Yep, no amount of dewy foundation can cover up the bacteria that make their homes in concealers, lipsticks, powders and more.

What happens when you use expired makeup?

In fact, scientists at London Metropolitan University tested five products including a blusher, foundation and lip gloss and found that old makeup is home to unsafe levels of potentially lethal bacteria. This includes enterococcus faecalis – a name that really is as scary as it sounds – a bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections amongst other things!

Yep in a nutshell old makeup = new nasties.

Cleaning makeup brushes – the place to start

old makeup

A recent poll* of women aged between 18-49 found that regularly washing make-up brushes featured in the top 10 pieces of beauty advice passed on from mums to daughters.

And the good news is, you don’t need any fancy lotions and potions to get your makeup brushes as clean as a whistle. Here’s what you need:

  • Baby shampoo
  • A lint free bowl
  • Some warm water


  1. Rinse all the leftover makeup on your brush by running them under lukewarm water, focusing on the bristles and avoid the area at the base of the brush.
  2. Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and small squirt of shampoo. Swirl the tip of your brush in the water and work against the palm of your hand – clean of course – if you want to create a lather.
  3. Repeat step 1 and 2 until the water runs clear.
  4. Wipe your brush clean with a lint free cloth, reshaping as you go along.
  5. Finally, lay the brushes out to dry on a clean cloth.

And if you need more info on how to make the most of your makeup brushes, you NEED to read the answers to the most googled questions about makeup brushes!

When to throw away eyeshadow…

While it may be tempting to make up your own rules on the shelf life of…well…makeup, there are timelines to stick to. So here’s how long you can leave it before consigning your favourite makeup items to the bin:

Mascara Four months
Foundation One Year
Concealer 12-18 months
Powder 18 months
Blush/bronzer 18 months
Cream blush 12-18 months
Eye shadow 18 months
Eyeliner 18 months
Liquid eyeliner Six months
Eyeliner 18 months
Liquid eyeliner Six months
Lipstick/lip gloss 18 months
Lip liner One year
Nail polish One year
Makeup sponges Wash after each use, then throw away after a month.
*Commissioned by pro-age beauty brand Look Fabulous Forever