How to Take Care of Your Makeup: Cleaning, Shelf Life & Storage

How to Take Care of Your
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
When you buy something through our retail links, we may earn commission and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

* Makeup and brushes require maintenance and cleaning
* It’s important to consider cosmetics’ shelf life
* Using unsanitary products can lead to infection and breakouts

Trying new beauty products and experimenting with our daily makeup can be exciting and fun, but with makeup comes great responsibility—at least if you want to keep your skin looking fresh and infections far, far away. When it comes to keeping your products clean, effective and above all sanitary, there are a few important tenets to keep in mind. Makeup isn’t bulletproof, and it doesn’t last forever. It’s absolutely essential to pay attention to expiration dates so that you know when to toss it.

If you’re not cleaning your makeup tools on a regular basis, you should be. Not only will it help them last much longer, but it will also prevent harm. Using dirty makeup brushes, sponges and applicators means you’re applying loads of old makeup and bacteria, yesterday’s oil and crusty buildup onto your skin. Unclean tools puts you at major risk for infections, breakouts, clogged pores and inflamed skin.

You should store your cosmetics properly. For instance, some anti-aging ingredients like Retinol loose their potency when exposed to the heat or direct sunlight, while mascara left in the car could develop bacteria or dry out quickly.

Expiration Dates & Shelf Life

There are a few obvious, telltale signs that your makeup has gone bad and that it’s time to part ways. If it has an odor of any kind that wasn’t present when you first purchased it, it’s time to say goodbye. Changes in consistency and texture can also mean it’s done. While discoloration can be normal for some types of cosmetics, it’s another sign that it’s time to throw them out.

Skincare serums and treatments are a bit more specified when it comes to their shelf life. In the U.S., many skincare products are not required to provide expiration dates, but they may lose their effectiveness after time. Anti-aging ingredients like retinoids can be kept for up to a year. After that, they begin to lose their collagen-producing capabilities.

Mascara: 3-5 months
Foundation: 3 months
Liner + Eye-show: up to 1 year
Moisturizer: 1 year
Lipstick: 2 years
Glycolic Peels: 3 months
Retinoids: up to 1 year

Cleaning Your Tools

As a rule of thumb, most dermatologists agree that you should be cleaning your makeup brushes, sponges and applicators on a daily basis. We suggest spraying them with a quick makeup cleaning spray daily and doing a more intensive wash with baby shampoo and hot water weekly. If you apply your base with a beauty sponge, you should wash it immediately after each use to prevent stains and ensure optimal cleanliness, since the sponge is an inherently absorbent applicator.

sephora instant brush cleaner Image courtesy of Sephora

Sephora Instant Dry Brush Cleaner Spray


Sephora’s Instant Dry Brush Cleaner Spray is like a dry shampoo for your cosmetic brushes, and it will make staying clean on-the-go effortless. For those weekly deep cleans, Sigma Beauty’s rotating cleaning device will get the job done and significantly cut down on dry time.

Sigma Beauty Brush Cleaning Machine Image courtesy of Amazon

Sigma Beauty Dry Rinse Cleaner




While many of us like to put on our faces in the bathroom, leaving your cosmetics and skincare there isn’t the best idea. Humidity and warmth from showers can cause products to lose efficacy. The best place to store most cosmetics is a cool, dry spot that won’t suffer extreme climate changes. Keeping your makeup and skincare bottles separated and neatly organized helps them stay clean, too. An acrylic storage container keeps your essential products visible and prevents your vanity from looking like Sephora exploded in the bathroom.

Acrylic Makeup Storage Amazon

Acrylic Cosmetic Storage Box

$14.99 $15.99 6% OFF

Another option is investing in a durable rolling cart to store and organize your cosmetics. Simply roll it along wherever you want. Bonus tip: this is also great for when you’re looking for some natural light and need to step outside the fluorescent “glow” of your powder room.

Cosmetics Rolling Cart Image courtesy of Amazon

Home Storage Rolling Cart

If you buy something because we told you about it, we may receive compensation from retail partners.