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Beauty Product Expiration Dates

I'm not above sliding on an ancient Lip Smacker when sifting through the contents of my childhood bathroom. Ocassionally nostalgia for things that once called a Kaboodle home just gets the best of me.

Beyond that, though, I'm pretty diligent about replacing my lip glosses and nail polishes. It's a bit annoying that each beauty product lands somewhere dfferent on the expiration date spectrum, since I'd love to treat Sephora like Sam's Club and just replenish my stash of loyal favorites in one fell swoop.

But keeping track of those different shelf lives is worth it. Beauty products aren't only cleaner and safer to use when replaced regularly, they work better, too. And even if you're not afraid of a little bacteria, that's reason enough to restock them on schedule, right?

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Mascara: 1 month

People often say to replace mascara most diligently, like every three months. But Katy Perry's makeup artist told me to replace my mascara every month instead, and it was one of the better tips I've ever gotten.

Now instead of buying a few $25 tubes a year I buy a $7 one every few weeks. It's just as cost-effective, and since it never even begins to get clumpy or dry out, that new drugstore mascara looks way more luxurious than a department store one on its last breath.

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Lipstick and Lip Balm: 1 year

A tube of lipstick or lip balm kind of looks like a column, or a 1, and that's how often you should replace it: one year.

To stay on schedule, I like to buy new, luxurious ones for my birthday every year, like this Tom Ford one. If it's a good one, I won't have to replace it until I'm planning my next party, but of course, cheaper ones start to give you Kool Aid-mouth a little earlier than that.

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Nail Polish: 2 years or more

Here's an analogy: nail polish is to other beauty products as shellac manicures are to regular manicures. It lasts REALLY long.

Since there's no bacteria to worry about, just throw the polish away as soon as it starts getting goopy or oil & vinegar like. Typically that takes about two years.

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Foundation: Six Months

It might seem like a bit of buzzkill to have to buy foundation so often, but if you cut corners, you could end up with more pimples and need to buy even more of it just because of that.

Foundation's water-based, so it's a bacteria breeding ground. Which makes your skin a bacteria breeding ground. Don't skimp on this one.

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Blush: Two Years or Six Months

If in two years you never drop powder blush and crack it like a pane of glass, you deserve a reward. Like being able to use that same blush for up to two years.

Cream blush, on the other hand, you need to replace every six months due to pesky bacteria.

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Eyeshadow: Two Years or Six Months

The same logic applies to eyeshadow as it does to blush: powders last longer.

Just make sure you're being very diligent with cleaning your brushes and always washing your hands if you use your fingers to apply, since bacteria can irritate your eyes much more easily than your cheeks.

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Multiples: 6 months or less

If you use the multiple like it's intended (for your eyes, lips and cheeks all at once) you're probably speading bacteria around your face in one fell swoop. You'll want to replace this guy even more often than cream blushes or powders.

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Perfume: Two to Ten Years

This one totally depends on whether you display your perfume or store it: the latter's the smarter move.

Putting your perfume on a windowsill or vanity is kind of like taking a wheel of cheese out of the fridge. The chemicals in perfumes break down in the sun (or during daily rounds of hot, steamy showers) and shave the shelf life from as much as 10 years to as little as two. Keep it in a medicine cabinet and it'll smell like it was supposed to smell for much longer.

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