Complements How long should you keep your makeup and makeup brushes before you get new ones?


By Lashelle Kuhlman, licensed aesthetician, reconstructive & cosmetic surgery, Mount Nittany Physician Group

This is a common question asked by many women daily.  And this is the perfect time to go through those drawers and bags full of makeup. I know you can’t seem to toss that perfect pink lipstick you’ve had since high school; no shame in keeping some of these items around, but it’s time to let go of the majority of them. Since expired cosmetics can cause skin irritation and eye infections, it’s important to replace them before they go bad. Cosmetics aren’t required to have an expiration date on them, so you’ll have to keep track of when you opened them.

Good brushes can last for years if they are cleaned and stored properly. You don’t want to be transferring old makeup, germs and bacteria to your skin each time you use them, which in the end can lead to blemishes and other skin issues, so here are my tips on how to take care of your brushes

Concealer and foundation brushes should be cleaned more regularly than others because you are using them on the main parts of your face every day. Aim for once a week (every Sunday perhaps?) to rid the buildup of the products on the brush. The cleaner the brush is, the better the application. Eye shadow brushes can be cleaned twice a month, and all others, once a month.

When do you throw out your brushes? When they start to fray, shed or lose their shape. Gorgeous makeup is as much about the tools you use as the products you apply. Brushes can make all the difference.

So, how do you clean them? Wiping them off with a dry towel after each use will help, but you can spritz a daily brush cleanser onto your brushes after you’ve used them. This will kill off any bacteria, and only takes a second to do. It’s important that you always store your brushes upright in an open container where they can air out after being wiped off with a towel or with the brush cleaner. You can also deep clean them by using a baby shampoo. You will take about a tablespoon of shampoo into a small bowl, add warm water and dip your brushes, one at a time, swirling them gently. After washing, hold each brush under cold water to rinse and then re-mold to its original shape, if necessary. Do not dry the brushes in an upright position with this method; lay flat to dry.

Now that we have discussed brushes, let’s talk about when to toss that makeup. As a rule of thumb:

  • Mascara – three months: Mascara is a breeding ground for bacteria, with the dark tube that can cause conjunctivitis or styes. As the brush is taken out, applied and put back in the tube, it brings with it any bacteria that has collected along the way. In general, anything used on the eye area will need to be replaced sooner than any other product.
  • Foundation – six to 12 months: Bacteria love water-based foundations, so be sure to keep your foundation away from heat and from your bathroom.
  • Concealer – Powder, two years; liquid, one year: Concealer is meant to cover blemishes, not cause them.
  • Face powder – two years: This is one product that seems to keep going; just be sure to clean your sponges and discard after a couple of uses. Your best bet is to purchase a pack of disposable sponges.
  • Blush – two years: My blush seems to always be the one product that I don’t run out of often. Be sure to keep your blush brush clean since this product can last for a few years.
  • Eye shadow – three months
  • Eyeliner – three months
  • Lipstick and lipgloss – one year: When it gets hard or streaky, toss it.

I know there are a lot of women out there who just can’t get rid of that product they love and have been storing for years, but, in general, they should follow these guidelines. If any smell or change of color occurs in your products, toss them. You don’t want to risk irritation or breakouts. So, use these winter months to take some time and go through your products; it’s time for some spring cleaning!