Get a Clue

Only Hue Get a ClueClue in clients when it’s time to ditch their fave cosmetics.

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No matter how much your clients adore that brick-red lipstick, their love affair can’t last forever. “Most cosmetics have a shelf life of two to three years,” informs Repêchage global educator Jennifer Fredette. “If you keep them past this time, active ingredients could break down or essential oils could be lost.” And don’t forget bacterial infections caused by dirty applicators. Fredette says, “I love to look inside my clients’ makeup bags. The first thing I usually toss is their foundation compact because the puff is old and grimy.”

Blech! We’ve tapped the pros at Repêchage, Colorlab Cosmetics and Bodyography for the 411 on when and why select products need to make their way into the trash bin.

Eye Shadow

Shelf Life: (Powder Eye Shadow) Two to Three Years, (Cream) Six Months to a Year

“Eye shadow can harden, usually around the center where the applicator repeatedly transfers skin oils,” says Lisa Ryan, Colorlab director of education and artistic development. Adds Fredette, “What does go bad—or, rather, fades—is the pigment intensity.” 

Because cream shadow is made with emulsions that tend to break down over a relatively brief period of time, it has a shorter shelf life than powder eye shadow.


Shelf Life: (Pencil) Two Years, (Liquid) Three to Six Months

“Liquid liners begin to dry out quickly,” says Ryan, “which prevents them from applying properly.” If clients want to add a few months to an eyeliner pencil’s shelf life, Ryan advises, “Keep the pencil in a cool place and sharpen it regularly (or wipe off the surface area if the pencil is automatic) to stave off bacteria growth.” Bodyography creative director Dena Wiseman adds, “Throw it away when the tip becomes stiff and too waxy,” which causes skipping.


Shelf Life: Two to Three Years

Wiseman suggests keeping an eye out for how the product applies, and to, “chuck it if it doesn’t apply smoothly anymore.” If it contains sunscreen, the SPF will become ineffective at the three-year mark.

Liquid Foundation

Shelf Life: (Water-Based) One Year, (Oil-Based) Two Years

The life of this product depends on the formulation type (oil or water), and how  your clients store and use it. Remind them  to resist sticking their fingers into the product to avoid contamination. Wiseman adds, “To prolong foundation’s life, keep it away from the sun, which can speed up its deterioration.”


Shelf Life: Three to Six Months

Mascara experiences a dip in its efficacy when it starts to dry out. Says Ryan, “Clumpy, dry mascara can pull out lashes because the thickened product doesn’t release as well with cleanser or makeup remover.” 


Shelf Life: Two to Three Years

Even though pressed powder appears usable past the two-year mark, warn clients that the mixture of their natural skin oils (transferred from the puff), as well as the product’s tendency to dry out over time, will cause the powder to apply splotchy. Loose powder, however, can last up to three years.

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