Spring Cleaning: Decluttering Your Makeup Drawer (And What Products to Save)

Rachel Adler

As a beauty editor, one of the perks of the job is free samples. And as an extremely OCD beauty editor, each time I get in a new sample I make it my priority to test it right away and put it in its proper place. Let’s just say, I get a bit overwhelmed when my desk becomes a cluttered mess. So, when these products find their way into my bathroom and cover my sink so that I can no longer see the surface, that’s when I realize it’s time to do a bit of spring cleaning.

Below, find my list of key things to look for when cleaning out your makeup drawer (and wherever else your beauty products have landed)– plus some tips for salvaging your favorite products.

1. Concealer and Foundations
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Image: geniusbeauty.com

Concealer has a shelf life of up to one year, while face powder lasts up to two years (for both pressed and loose powders). Since these products are used to cover up blemishes and are often applied over moisturizer to last all day, they’re especially bad when contaminated– be sure to toss in a timely manner.

2. Eye Liner, Shadow, and Mascara
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Image: womenshealth.com

Your liner is one of the most important products to be skeptical about– and to not share with others. Ever heard of pink eye? Yes– we wouldn’t want it either. Although they last a long time (up to three years), sharpen regularly to keep the tips clean and to guarantee that bacteria doesn’t have time to settle during the application process. Shadows can also last up to three years, but change brushes after two. Mascara is the most important beauty product to change regularly– and should be disposed of after three or four months. The little tube tends to harbor bacteria.

3. Cream Blush, Cream Shadow, and Lipstick
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Image: jlproducts.co.uk

Cream products have a shorter lifespan than powders and should be tossed after six months. With cream products, you can typically tell by their consistency once they have gone bad– they will start to separate or become a bit clumpy, or in some cases just not apply as easily as before. Lipstick should be good for one year (sometimes more), but when your lip color expires, it may take on a bad smell, so you will know that it needs to be tossed. To prolong the lifespan of your lipstick, store it in the refrigerator.

4. Nail Polish
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Image: Marieclaire.com

Nail polish is one of the easier products to determine whether it has expired (typically one year, but it depends on the quality). We’ve all had a bottle that starts to clump and no longer glides on easily, leaving behind a pile of goo on our fingertips. To salvage polish, pour a little bit of nail polish remover directly into the bottle to thin it out. Pour in small quantities though, or you’ll end up with a polish that’s too thin.

5. Sponges and Brushes
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Image: Andrew Katzowitz

Sponges should be thrown out every month. A sponge is meant to absorb, and it does exactly that. In the process, it also absorbs all sorts of bacteria– so even if you wash it after every use (which you are supposed to do) it is not 100 percent clean. This includes the sponges you find in your compacts, ladies– just picture your kitchen sponge every time you apply your makeup and you’ll think twice. Makeup brushes, on the other hand, can be kept for two years. As long as you are regularly cleaning them (rinse with water and baby shampoo about once a month), they will have a longer shelf life. You can also buy sanitizing sprays or use rubbing alcohol to disinfect.

Go ahead and toss anything that you’ve been hanging onto a bit too long and clear up some space for new products, new colors, and new trends for spring! Plus, your skin will thank you for it.

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