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Old Makeup Sanitization Guide: How to Extend Products Lifespan

In beauty and skincare, the lifecycle of makeup products is a concern for environmental and economic reasons. With consumers growing more conscious of waste and the costs associated with frequently replacing makeup, finding a way to extend the lifespan of these products with safety has become increasingly important. Sterilizing old makeup is a practical approach to ensuring its safe usage beyond the typical expiration dates, provided there are no signs of spoilage or adverse reactions. This article will explore methods to sterilize various types of makeup products, thereby prolonging their usability while maintaining hygiene. Let’s explore the step-by-step sanitization guide.

Understanding the Risks

Before diving into sterilization techniques, it’s crucial to understand the risks associated with using old makeup. Products past expiration can harbour bacteria and fungi, leading to skin irritations, infections, and breakouts. Mascara and liquid eyeliner are particularly prone to bacterial growth, which can cause eye infections. Therefore, while you can sterilize some products for extended use, others, especially those used near the eyes and in liquid form, should be replaced as recommended.

Powder-Based Products (Eyeshadows, Blushes, and Powders)

Powder-based makeup is less likely to harbour bacteria than liquid or cream products, but it still requires regular cleaning to extend its shelf life safely.

  1. Scraping Off the Top Layer: Using a clean spatula or knife, gently scrape off the top layer of the product to remove the most exposed part.
  2. Alcohol Sterilization: Spray a fine mist of 70% isopropyl alcohol over the product’s surface and let it air dry. This concentration of alcohol is effective in killing bacteria without damaging the makeup.

Cream-Based Products (Lipsticks, Concealers, and Cream Blushes)

Cream-based products are more susceptible to bacteria due to their moisture content.

  1. Wiping Down: For lipsticks, wipe the top layer off with a clean tissue, then dip the product in 70% isopropyl alcohol for 30 seconds and let it air dry.
  2. Scooping Out Product: For pots of cream blush or concealer, scoop out a small amount with a clean spatula, avoiding direct contact with your fingers.

Liquid Products (Foundations, Liquid Eyeliners, Mascaras)

Sterilizing liquid products is challenging due to their formulations and packaging, making it difficult to eliminate bacteria without compromising the product’s integrity. For these items, it’s best to adhere to the expiration dates. However, you can take preventative steps to minimize bacterial growth:

  1. Avoid Pumping Mascara: The mascara wand introduces air and bacteria into the tube. Instead, gently swirl the brush to collect the product.
  2. Use Disposable Applicators: Using a disposable applicator instead of the product’s applicator can reduce contamination for liquid eyeliners and lip glosses.

Tools and Applicators

Regular cleaning of makeup brushes, sponges, and applicators using sanitizer and anti-microbial agents is essential to prevent the spread of bacteria to your makeup and skin.

  1. Brushes: Clean brushes with a gentle shampoo or brush cleaner weekly, rinse thoroughly, and let them air dry.
  2. Sponges: Wash makeup sponges with soap and warm water after each use. Microwave the damp sponge for 60 seconds to kill bacteria, then let it air dry.

Best Practices for Makeup Hygiene

  • Avoid Sharing Makeup: Sharing makeup increases the risk of cross-contamination and spreading infections.
  • Keep Containers Closed: Ensure all makeup containers are tightly closed after use to minimize exposure to air and bacteria.
  • Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect makeup for changes in texture, smell, or color, which could indicate spoilage.
  • Use Within Expiration: While sterilization can extend the life of some products, it’s important to use makeup within its expiration period when possible, especially products applied near the eyes.

When to Discard Makeup

Even with diligent care and sterilization, all makeup has a finite lifespan. Avoiding products that have changed significantly in smell, texture, colour, or cause irritation is essential. Generally, replace mascara and liquid eyeliner every 3–6 months, liquid foundation and concealer within 12 months, and powders, eyeshadows, and lipsticks within 1-2 years.


Sterilizing old makeup products is valuable for those looking to extend their makeup’s usability while ensuring it remains safe. Adopting stringent hygiene practices, regularly cleaning tools and applicators, and being mindful of product expiration dates makes it possible to make the most of your makeup collection responsibly. However, it’s crucial to balance the desire to extend the life of makeup with the need to maintain skin health, always erring on the side of caution, and discarding products that pose a risk. Through conscientious care and maintenance, we can enjoy our favourite beauty products for longer, safely, and sustainably.