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When to Get Rid of Skin Care and Makeup Products

We’ve all done it – held on to a bottle of lotion or a bold lipstick color thinking we’ll use it more than we do – but it doesn’t take long for time to pass and a product to go bad. Here are some tips from our Lancaster aestheticians for purchasing and discarding skin care and makeup products:

Skin Care Products

Type of Container

Before you buy your skin care product, consider the container it comes in. Pump-based containers keep bacteria out better than screw-on jars (most people dip unsanitary fingers into their jars). These containers can also help your product last longer by keeping oxygen out.


Unless you live near a beach or you’re an avid beach traveler, you likely don’t use an entire tube of sunscreen in one summer and keep it for next year. This isn’t a good idea, however, as heat can cause sunscreen to become unstable and ineffective. To make sure you’re getting the best protection, discard your sunscreens after one year.

PAO Symbols

Some products have a “Period After Opening” symbol (an outline of a jar with an open lid) with an “M” (months) printed on the back of the packaging. The number indicates how many months the product will last after it’s opened. Be sure to write down what month you opened your product so you can remember when to throw it out.

Anti-Aging Ingredients

Many anti-aging products have ingredients like retinol, Vitamin C, and glycolic acid – all of which can break down quickly. These ingredients usually last 9-12 months, depending on how they’re dispensed. When buying, look for vacuum-sealed products in air-tight pump bottles. These will last you longer.

Acne Products

In today’s acne products, you’ll likely find salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Both of these ingredients are great for treating acne, but they can break down pretty quickly once they’re exposed to air. Because of this, your acne products aren’t likely to last more than six months and should be replaced for maximum effectiveness.

Makeup Products

Good Judgement

When it comes to both skin care and makeup products, check the expiration date (if there is one) on a regular basis. If there’s no expiration date and you’re not sure how long you’ve had the product, throw it away just to be safe.


Dipping your brush or fingers into liquid foundations can quickly spread bacteria, so as a rule of thumb, liquid makeup should only be kept for six months. When it comes to powders, they can last a little longer (up to two years), but after awhile can also harbor the oils on your face.


No matter what kid of mascara, it should only last you about three months. Because the inside of a mascara tube is a dark, wet environment, it doesn’t take much for bacteria to grow. In addition, after the three-month mark, your mascara will probably get chalky or powdery and not work as well as it should.

Eyeliner/Eye Shadow

When buying eyeliner or eye shadow, one thing to keep in mind is that the drier the product, the longer it will last. This means things like liquid eyeliner or cream eyeshadows will only be good for 3-6 months while things like pencil eyeliners and powder eyeshadows can last up to two years.

Lip Products

Almost all lip products (glosses, lipsticks, lipliners) will dry out with age and leave you with a look that’s not nearly as smooth and creamy as it should be. Because of this, we recommend tossing your lip products after about two years.

Want to rely even less on skin care or makeup products? Our Lancaster aestheticians offer a variety of products and services that can improve your natural beauty.