When it's time to trash your makeup and skincare

When it's time to trash your makeup and skincare

To toss or not to toss

Text: Renée Batchelor

Are you a hoarder when it comes to your makeup, skincare and fragrances? Here's why it is really not a good idea to keep your cosmetics for too long and the best ways to store them

Okay, hands up if you have a lipstick that has long been discontinued or an eye pencil that's now a mere nub... or worse still, expired skincare that you're actually applying on your face? Stop these crimes against your complexion and get organised, by looking through your makeup case, purses, cosmetics drawer and sink-side arsenal.

Be ruthless. Be efficient. And remember that your face is prized property and shouldn't be subjected to bacteria, fungus and other forms of life that may be lurking (and multiplying) in your cosmetics. It's better to go barefaced than put gunk-filled makeup on your face.


We hate to hit you with the no, no, nos, but some things are non-negotiable. Here's what you should not be doing with your used products

1. Trading used makeup in makeup swap parties. That's the dumbest idea we ever heard of. You won't just be swapping eyeshadows and lipsticks, you may also be passing along cold sores and eye infections to your friends. Yipes.

2. Passing along used skincare — unless it's in an airtight pump dispenser and has never had any contact with your skin. We would also not recommend passing along something that has caused a breakout or skin infection either.

3. Using a product that has changed in terms of colour, texture and scent. This applies to everything from creams or foundations that have separated, mascaras that are dried up, fragrances that smell more of alcohol then of the original scent, lipsticks that have a funky odour and anything that looks discoloured.

Makeup smears

It can be tempting to hoard makeup, and yes, legitimately collecting limited-edition makeup is a hobby, but you have to store them properly especially in Singapore's heat and humidity. And remember makeup that has been stored for years is not fit to be worn on the face... only admired in their cases.

How to store them: In a cool, dry place. Places you shouldn't store makeup; the bathroom (especially if you shut all windows and take long, hot showers), by a window where light and heat can affect their composition and in hot, confined spaces like your car. For some products like softer lip balms and lipsticks, you can pop them in the fridge if they are softening too much.

Liquid and cream foundations: These last between six months and a year upon opening
Lipsticks, glosses and lip pencils: Two to three years or when it's changed in consistency and smell
Powders and powder-based products like blushers and eyeshadows: Two to three years  
Four to six months or when they dry up 

If you've spent a small fortune on your brushes, be sure to take care of them by cleaning them regularly and storing them neatly. Makeup artists have shared with us that there are some brushes they love so much, they have kept them for over 10 years. Quality brushes will last much longer than a makeup or skincare product. 

How to store them: Ideally they should not be chucked at the bottom of your toiletries bag, but be stored neatly in a brush case, a tin or a holder, like a cup. Another great idea — recycle used candle containers and scrape them clean.

How to clean them: Wash each brush head (avoid wetting the wooden or plastic handles as it can cause long-term disintegration) first with lukewarm water to get all the makeup out, and then follow with a gentle shampoo or makeup brush cleaner. It is easier to clean brushes in a shallow bowl of water with the cleansing agent squirted inside, and then swirl the brush head to remove all traces of residual makeup. Continue until the brush is clean, pat them dry with a cloth and allow them to air-dry on a flat surface.


Yes, fragrances do not last forever, so unless you're collecting them for their bottles, you should chuck them out every few months or so. Even then, don't expect them to be anything but coloured vials of liquid beyond a certain point.

How to store them: Wherever possible try to store your fragrances in a cool, dark place like a linen closet. As Instagram-worthy as it may be, avoid placing them near an open window as direct sunlight can quickly degrade a fragrance's quality. Do keep the bottle or stopper tightly capped and try not to open your fragrance bottle too often, as this can also affect the fragrance's longevity.

Depending on the fragrance, an open bottle should last between six to eighteen months, when it is stored correctly. Once you have opened a bottle, try to finish it as fast as possible. Light, citrus scents can deteriorate as quickly as in six months while heavier scents like floral or Orientals might last around 18 months. Once the scent no longer smells the same — or has an overpowering alcohol smell, it has gone 'off'. 

Skincare bottles empty

This is the most important category where you should stick closely to use-by dates. After all, skincare is slathered all over your face and neck, and in some cases have penetrative abilities — exfoliators and peels are able to remove the dead, uppermost layer of skin and many serums and creams penetrate the skin beyond the epidermis level. If you are worried that you will use your skincare beyond its 'freshness' date, use a Sharpie or permanent marker to note when you've opened each bottle or jar.

How to store them: Again, common sense should apply. It's okay to store your cleansers near your sink or shower, but try to store your other products in cabinets rather than in the bathroom where it gets hot and humid. If you are concerned about a product's longevity and with the idea of bacteria getting introduced into your products, avoid jar packaging for your creams and lotions, and go with pump dispensers instead.

Cleansers: Up to a year
Toners: Six months to  ayear
Exfoliators (with BHA and AHA): A year
Moisturisers and serums:  Six months to a year
Oils: If they are cold-pressed oils, they usually last between three to six months while other oils may last up to eighteen months. Do keep a close lookout for changes in odour, colour and texture, all telltale signs — and toss them if these have altered.
Sunscreen: Follow the expiration date on the tube, as they will not be as effective after.