When Should You Throw Away Your Beauty Products?

Sir John (the man who wields the makeup brushes for everyone from Joan Smalls to Beyoncé) speaks.

By: Chelsey Burnside

When Beyoncé dropped her visual album last year (we’d insert a line full of ‘praise’ emojis here, but AP Style frowns upon that—oh, eff it: :raised_hands: :raised_hands: :raised_hands: :raised_hands: :raised_hands: :raised_hands:), we were mesmerized by her general #flawlessness, but also by the approximate billion beauty moments just begging to be YouTube tutorial-ed.

The brains behind the brush? Celebrity makeup artist Sir John Barnett—and yes, that’s his given name.

Regularly on call for Vogue, the Carters’ On the Run tour and many a supermodel visage (you know, just your average CV), we’ve studied up on Sir John’s swipe-by-swipe guides on girl-world rites of passage like smokey eyes and the boyish brow. So we thought we’d tap his shimmer-dusted psyche on a recurring fear of ours that bubbles up, say, when hitting pan on that Bobbi Brown palette circa-a few holidays ago, or rationing that limited edition Rihanna x MAC lipstick we bought in like, 2012 (but it’s just so perfect!).

Here’s what the backstage baron had to say about shelf lives of our holy-grail primers, potions and powders. In essence: out with the expired, and in with the Estée, Bobbi and Marc.

Hey, if it’s new enough for Queen Bey, it’s new enough for us.




6 Months


Moisturizer, serums, facial cleansers and eye cream: six months.

"Unless these products have acids in them, like glycolic acid, salicylic acid and beta hydroxyl acid, in which case they will have a longer shelf life. Also, try putting eye cream in the fridge. It feels great on tired eyes also aids in de-puffing. Plus, it keeps it out of the heat!"




6 to 12 Months


Foundation, tinted moisturizer, BB cream, CC cream and concealer: Six months to a year.

"A great indicator of the time to toss away would be when separation occurs in the bottle. Also, overexposure to heat changes the general makeup (for lack of a better term) of a product’s consistency."




90 Days


Mascara: 90 days.

"This has the shortest shelf life of everything your cosmetic arsenal. Bacteria grows the fastest here, which is no bueno around the eyes!"



4 to 6 Months


Gel or liquid liners: Four to six months.

"Same theory as mascara."



2 to 3 Years


Powder, bronzer, blush and eyeshadow: two to three years.

"Sometimes I keep shadows a bit longer—maybe 2-7 years!"



2 to 3 Years


"Remember: If it smells funky, looks gunky or the texture has changed significantly—definitely toss it out!"



1 year