Bobbi Brown make up kit

All the advice you need on how to overhaul your makeup bag because…it’s time.

Who says cleanouts are just for the spring? If one of your goals heading into the new year is to get rid of junk that you just don’t need or use anymore, your makeup bag is a great place to start. But how do you know if a serum is past its prime, or how often to replace your mascara? For those questions and more, we called in an expert: makeup maven and Jones Road founder Bobbi Brown. She’s got some great advice on how to Marie Kondo your makeup bag, and she’s even shared some pro tips with us on how to increase the shelf life of your favorite makeup products.

How long does makeup like mascara and eyeshadow last and how often should you replace it?

When you need to replace an item is dictated less by how much you use it and more by how long the product formulation can maintain its effectiveness,” Brown points out. “Mascara has one of the shorter life spans as it tends to get clumpy after six months. And since mascara touches your eyes, the wand collects germs and can cause an eye infection, which is why you want to change out your mascara frequently,” she says.

More specifically, “since mascara is typically used every day and it touches your eyes, you should replace your mascara at least every three to six months,” says Brown. Basically, once it starts getting flaky, Brown says, it needs to be replaced.

Luckily, eyeshadows have a little more shelf life, she says. “If it’s a powder, it can last up to two years, while a cream or liquid-based shadow can be kept up to a year before it starts to get dry and flaky.

And lipsticks can last the longest! “Tube lipsticks can last up to two years.”

Most foundation formulas, she says, “will start to separate after one year and their consistency will start to change.”

But with any makeup, one sign to look for is scent! “When any makeup starts to smell different than it did when you first started using it, toss it out immediately,” Brown warns. “If it smells funny, toss it. This is true for any makeup product from lipsticks to treatment products.”

Do skincare products expire or need to be replaced often?

According to Brown, skincare products and serums are meant to have a shelf life of about a year before they start separating and losing their effectiveness. “If you notice the color and consistency of the serum starting to change, that’s a signal that it’s time to replace it.”

Where to store makeup so that it lasts longer

A general pro tip on how to preserve your makeup: “Don’t store it in the bathroom,” warns Brown. “The two factors that influence the lifespan of makeup most are exposure to extreme temperatures and moisture, and the bathroom is prone to fluctuations in both. Find a place to store your makeup that is cool and dry.”

Tips for cleaning out your makeup bag

Brown cleans out her makeup bag every season. Here’s her process:

“First, I dump everything in my bag in a big box or plastic bin so I can see everything. Then, I get rid of anything that’s broken, flaking, or just looks beat up. Next, I pull out all my essentials — these are the products I use every single day, without fail. Next, I toss out any colors that just don’t suit me or that I bought for a specific occasion or to match a dress that I wore once. Be relentless about this because trust me, you’ll probably never wear these colors again. For the final step, I get another small makeup bag, and I make a separate kit of the shimmery products, bright colors, and dark shadows that I’d use only for a dramatic evening-out look and I make a separate ‘special occasion’ makeup bag that I keep separate from my everyday essentials bag. Everything that’s still left in the box or bin I donate to a public high school theater program, as they are always looking for makeup.”

Tips for organizing your makeup and makeup bag

Brown advises, “The easiest way to streamline your makeup bag is to use an edited collection of multi-use products.” She explains, “for example, I love a lip and cheek stick that’s portable, easy-to-use, and that doubles as blush and lipstick. Tinted balms with good-for-you ingredients in them are also game-changers as they can be used virtually everywhere on your skin. You can use them on your face and cheeks as a tinted moisturizer or bronzer, or you can swipe them on your eyelids for a pop of glow or use it on your lips as a shimmery lip balm. You can even use it in your hair to tame pesky flyaways. And nothing beats a strong brown eye pencil that you can use to line your eyes, pencil in your eyebrows, and use in your hairline to cover up gray roots between touch-ups.”

Does lotion and sunscreen expire?

Yes! “Lotions and sunscreens start to lose efficacy after a year,” she says. “Since sunscreens are FDA-regulated, they have an expiration date listed on the packaging, so follow those dates.” For lotions, Brown says, “I use a Sharpie to mark the date on the bottle when I open it. Then you know exactly how long you’ve had it. If it’s coming up on a year, then replace it.”

Brown’s favorite on-the-go makeup remover for travel

“I always travel with mini bottles filled with face oil and a rich moisturizer,” says Brown. “You can use either of them to remove a full face of makeup. For mascara, try an eye make remover or micellar water.”

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