1. It’s older than Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 summer jam “Call Me Maybe.” Any type of pressed powder (for face, eyes or cheeks) can accrue a hard, shiny surface over time. If it’s less than 2 years old and you don’t notice any other changes in texture or smell, the product is still salvageable, says Moani Lee, Global Brand Ambassador for Hourglass Cosmetics. “Just scrape the top layer off with a disposable spoolie brush until the powdery layer underneath is revealed.” If it’s over 2 years old though, trash it.
2. It’s as gross as it gets. Even a mildly grungy-looking sponge or brush should be tossed, says Romy Soleimani, Beauty Director at Large for Beauty.com. A foundation sponge is constantly touching your face, your hands, your makeup bag, etc. It’s super important to replace your makeup sponge about every five months, especially since many of us use the same makeup tools day after day. “Clean your sponges once a week with a mild liquid soap—this will help your sponge last even longer,” Soleimani adds.
3. You’ve had an eye infection. Seriously, any eye makeup used while you’ve had an infection is off limits. Just get rid of it. If you’ve managed to steer clear of eye infections and can’t tell if your eyeliner is past its prime, look for these indicators: Liquid liner will tend to ball up or become thick in consistency, pencil eyeliner will become crumbly and gel liner in a pot will look dry and cracked. (Basically, toss anything that makes it difficult to apply a smooth, straight line.)
4. It’s chalky. When your stick concealer starts to feel dry, it’s time to replace it. And if you’re using it to cover up acne, be sure to swab with a rubbing alcohol-soaked Q-Tip daily. Or try Lee’s trick: Use a disposable lip gloss brush to apply your concealer, to help contain the spread of bacteria as well as extend the life of your product.
5. The applicator is gunked up. If stiff, clumpy lashes are your thing, feel free to skip this one. If you’re more into the smooth, glossy type, make a point to spring for a new tube when the wand looks gunked up. Also, mascara tubes are safe havens for bacteria—you don’t want that near your eyes!
6. It stinks. An icky smell is an unquestionable sign that liquid foundation needs to go. Store it carefully (especially if it contains anti-aging ingredients, which can turn rancid more quickly), since UV rays tend to speed up the expiration process. Irini Gjoka, from NYC’s Pucker Makeup Studio, adds that an SPF-enhanced foundation shouldn’t be kept longer than six months, since it can lose its sun-protective effects.7. It’s discolored. Lip gloss that’s thick, sticky or shows any sign of discoloration has to go. You shouldn’t have to swirl or mix gloss in order to make it the right color!