Mar 102011

The sun is staying out longer, snowdrops are sprouting and as night falls, you can sometimes catch the scent of spring finally shoving winter out of the way. “Spring cleaning” is a bit of a cliche, but is there really a better time to overhaul, pare down and polish everything than the start of spring? (After all, you don’t want to be stuck doing boring household chores when it gets really nice out.)

While you’re in a home-maintenance frenzy, it’s not a bad time to re-evaluate your vanity or makeup bag and (sob!) part with some products that may be slightly past their prime. It’s never fun to say goodbye items that have served you well, but even the prettiest shades can harbor icky bacteria invisible to the naked eye. (The same bacteria that can cause infections in your naked eye.) Here are a few guidelines for making sure your beauty arsenal is up to scratch when summer hits.

1.) Wash your brushes. We recently covered the process of proper brush cleaning, but if you’re getting in there. you might as well give your tools a bath. It’s also a good time to wipe out your cases and bags with antibacterial wipes. If your applicators are looking a bit tired, it could be time to invest in a new set.

Sephora’s makeup brush sets never fail to delight, and there’s even a nice anti-bacterial brush roll set if brush cleanliness is a concern. (My personal favorite is the low-key, purse friendly Slim Essential Brush Set.)

2.) Pare indiscriminately. If you haven’t used a product in six months or more, it’s probably safe to say it will never earn a prominent place in your favorites. Chucking barely used makeup always feels wasteful, but your collection will feel lighter and more usable if you cut down on the less-used stuff.

3.) How long does makeup last? Maybe you got a fantastic new mascara for Christmas and you’re totally in love with it. Or there’s a beloved blush or eyeshadow for which you’re not even close to hitting pan. Still, makeup doesn’t have an indefinite shelf life. Mascara is the most perishable, and should be replaced every three months.

Foundation, concealer and other creams or liquids last about a year, but keep an eye out for product that has separated or smells differently than it once did- a sure sign it might be past its prime. Lipstick lasts for a year to two years, and liners can last up to three- just sharpen them regularly. Eyeshadows can last up to three years, but if they change texture, you might want to be on the safe side and toss them.

4.) Reward yourself. Replace some of the things you’ve put out to pasture with a few new singles- or if you’ve been particularly heavy handed, sets. Benefit’s Confessions of a Concealaholic will take the place of a few base products, and Bite’s Luminous Crème Lipstick Trio has a nude, a pink-brown and a red, which will basically cover every lipcolor need known to man. (Gloss-addicted girls might prefer the gorgeous Les Delices kit by Chantecaille.) Bobbi Brown’s Pretty Face Palette has a selection of shades that create a varied healthy glow for day wear, and NARS’s Fashion Forward Set has a few more intense options for night.

So dish- what did you pink slip from your train case, and what are you bringing in in its place?

  7 Responses to “Spring Cleaning: What to Makeup Keep and What to Toss”

  1. Thanks for the reminder. I replaced my mascara but my brushes need a cleaning!

  2. I need to get my brushes clean!! There goes my unused eye shadow in the bin! Thanks.

  3. Thanks for your piece on expired makeup! found that common permanent markers smudge off because of the oils in creams and makeup -the ONCE OPENED BEAUTY EXPIRATION KIT’s self laminating labels solve this problem! Kit comes with self laminating labels in a pretty pink pouch, ultra fine point mini permanent marker and a cosmetic life expectancy guide in a nice keepsake box.

    Visit . I would be willing to give a special to your readers $6.95 + Free S&H with Promo Code: user – beauty; pass – clean310

  4. […] In Spring Cleaning: What to Makeup Keep and What To Toss, Lipstick and Luxury shows us how to edit and purge our cosmetics bags. […]

  5. I wouldn’t necessarily say toss makeup you don’t use. If you don’t use it AND don’t like it, that’s one thing, but I have a lot of makeup that is still far from expiration that I’m just not into right now. Instead of chucking it,I just put it in a drawer.

    • That’s true, you can store it. I’m from New York, where space is at a super premium and I tend to forget about things I can’t see. :)

  6. […] I’ve had the pleasure of reading quite a few posts recently, but a post about beauty routines and spring cleaning really caught my […]

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