Breaking Up is Hard To Do: When to Toss Makeup

makeup to go blog makeuptogo blog when to toss makeup

You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em… (Lyrics ¬© D. Schlitz)


I am sure for many of you the above photograph is highly depressing if not devastating.

Yes, that is a trash bag filled with makeup. That bag contains everything from NYX cream blushes (which I loved back in the day) to NARS Artists Palettes. Yes, you read correctly: NARS Artists Palettes. Discontinued ones that have not been available in years and years. Why would I commit such an atrocity? Because it was time. Sadly, all good things come to an end and for a lot of the makeup now residing in that trash bag, their end actually came and went a while ago yet I was still holding on. Today’s musing: When to Toss Makeup.

Students and others have heard me talk about my makeup room. It actually stores more than just makeup but obviously as a makeup artist, the makeup is amongst the more important things I store in there. Anyone who’s heard me talk about this room has also heard me talk about how I get new makeup quite often. It is the blessing of being a working artist however I recently had to confront the reality of the truth; I had way too much old makeup taking up too much space. So much so that my new makeup wasn’t making it into the storage room and instead the new makeup was living in my dining room. I would show you a picture of how that was, but it’s embarrassing so, no.

Why To Toss
There are a myriad reasons why makeup might need to be tossed. The real question is why we do we hold onto makeup in the first place. My theory is that memory is a powerful thing. And memory leads to nostalgia and nostalgia leads to holding onto items well past their due date. As I was doing my purge I realized that EVERY single piece of makeup I own is attached to a memory of my life and career. Be it a career milestone or a personal treat of some kind, every piece of makeup I picked up sent me back in time to some recollection of yesteryear. Thus, it made it very difficult to purge the old makeup, but purge I did and purge you must. There comes a time when you have to let go of sentiment and face reality head-on. In deciding what to keep and what to toss I gave myself 3 criteria:

– Is it still in good condition?

– Do I still use it? Does it serve any purpose?

– Can someone else use it or is it just DONE.

The first one is a no brainer. It is dangerous to use makeup that has expired be it on yourself or on others. If it has a funky smell or the colors have started to change, that’s an automatic trip to the trash. The second criteria helped me assess where I am now. I am not in the same place in my career that I was 5 years ago, and certain products – while I may really like them – just never get used anymore. They’ve either been replaced by new fabulosity or I have found my Holy Grail Staple of that item type. If it is not being used, it is taking up valuable real estate and it needs to go. Lastly, just because I cannot/do not use it does not mean someone else cannot. Whenever possible I prefer to recycle makeup either to friends or what-have-you (women’s shelters and other charities can only accept new and unused product).

When To Toss

Generally speaking there are broad guidelines that can be followed to know when to toss a given cosmetics. To paraphrase Morpheus, some rules can be bent, some can be broken. There are some rules, however, that MUST be followed strictly (MASCARA!!) in order to maintain makeup health. These are broad (i.e. not absolute) guidelines for once a cosmetic is opened and in use. We will get into how to bend/break the rules next week…

makeup to go blog makeuptogo blog when to toss makeup

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Powders – 2 – 4 years
Powder eyeshadows, powder blushes, pressed powder, loose setting powder, etc. Powder FOUNDATIONS are a little different due to the pigmentation and other ingredients that may be added. I would keep powder foundations the same length of time as cream/liquid foundations.

Creams – 12 – 18 months
Cream blushes, cream eyeshadows, foundations, concealers, etc. Liquid foundations last about a year.

Lipsticks – 12 months

Pencil Liners – 2 years
With good care, pencil liners can (CAN) last up to two years. Regular sharpening removes the used layer of product and keeps the product clean/sanitized so that it lasts longer**.

Gel / Liquid Liners – 2 months

Mascara – 3 – 6 months
Please do not try to play games with gel and liquid liners and mascaras. Not only are these products creams/liquids which transfer bacteria more readily than powders do, but these items are used in one of the most sensitive and infection prone areas of your body.

The other more specific way to see when to toss makeup is to look and see what your makeup is telling you;

makeup to go blog makeuptogo blog tarte cosmetics amazonian waterproof matte bronzer compact park avenue princess

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Nowadays, most cosmetics products feature this icon of an open cosmetics jar with a number next to it. That symbol is telling you once this product has been opened, you have X number of months to use it. So in the case of this Tarte Cosmetics Park Ave Princess compact, once I open it up it should be good for about 12 months.

Now mind you like I said before the reason I threw these items away was because they were not in condition to be given away. Hence they were not in condition to be used, hence they were just taking up space. Most of the time, however, I do give my overflow makeup away either to homeless/domestic abuse shelters (which is my first choice), or to students as prizes, or to my friends etc. etc. The point of the story is this: one way or another you’ve got to know when to let it go. The benefits since my purge has been faster kit organization and packing for the jobs I’ve had since the purge and just an overall sense of calm whenever I walk into that room. And getting my dining room back! Further, since throwing out the old and writing this article (which took me about a week to do) I’ve actually received two more packages of makeup. As Nicey Nash used to say when she was the host of The TV show “Clean House”:

When your hands are open to give, they are open to receive…- old proverb

**Only if you sharpen after each use and keep your sharpening tools clean, however.

© 2014 – 2016, Tania. All rights reserved.

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