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How to Clean Up Your Makeup Bag

We’re here today to tackle a neglected (but necessary) Spring Cleaning activity: sorting through your makeup bag. We purge our closets, double mop our floors, cut out French fries and … keep putting expired makeup on our faces? Not OK.

Maybe you’re thinking, My makeup bag is on point, I fly through those products, I’m fine. But what about that drawer with your “backup stuff?” You know, the place you go for wedding makeup, your waterproof mascara for the pool… we’d venture to guess that some of those beauties have seen better days.

The Basics of Makeup Expiration

Faces get better with age, but your beauty products most certainly do not, and they have legally regulated expiration dates for a very good reason. (And it isn’t so companies can sell you more makeup). Over time, all products can change color, texture and consistency — especially products that are good for you, like the ones with added antioxidants, and that lack scary chemical stabilizers. Products can also start to smell. If any of these things happen, toss them immediately.

So how do you know what to expect and how to avoid being wasteful (and when to replace your lip gloss before it turns orange)? Take a product, flip it over and you’re likely to see a little drawing of an open pot and a number, like “6M.” That means that 6 months from the day you opened that product, you should be replacing it.

Now, let’s get started on cleaning up your makeup stash, and we’ll explain how paying attention to those little numbers can keep your body safe.

How to Clean Out Your Makeup Bag

What to Ditch: Expired Products

So you’ve gone through and ditched anything with a funky texture or smell, or that you can’t even remember buying (bravo!). There are two more essential steps to take for a safe beauty drawer:

1. Throw out aging SPF products ASAP. If you only take one lesson from this guide, let it be this: SPF expires. After about a year, the mineral SPF in our foundations will be less effective, and (going into full PSA mode here) even your non-makeup SPF expires. So please do not slather 6-year-old baby sunscreen on your second child or, you know, yourself.

2. Protect your eyes—they’re delicate. In general, the highest turnover items in your bag should be the ones you put around your eyes. First off, sharing is not caring when it comes to eyeliners, mascaras, eye brushes and shadows. You’re basically asking for an eye infection, so if you gave your girlfriend a swipe of mascara last night, dump the tube stat. Also, it’s spring, so you’re probably about to whip out last summer’s waterproof mascara. Don’t. Eyelashes may be flirty and gorgeous but evolutionarily, they’re actually present to trap dirt, not a significant other. So… if you’re brushing over your lashes with a wand, returning it to the tube and storing it for a year? Yikes. There’s a reason we recommend a 3-month cycle for mascara auto delivery.

Fill the void

If you don’t have SPF built into your daily routine (or if you did, but just threw it away), new COMPLEXION RESCUE Hydrating Foundation Stick is ridiculously easy to use as foundation, concealer or contour and contains broad spectrum SPF 15. Looking to double up on protection? MINERAL VEIL Translucent Finishing Powder is also available with broad spectrum SPF.

For year-round dream lashes, we love LASHTOPIA Mega Volume Mineral-Based Mascara. It’s nourishing, smudge-resistant, flake-resistant, paraben-free, phthalate-free, fragrance-free and dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested — and safe for contact lens wearers.

What to Ditch: Yesterday’s Trends

In fashion you can just store those cropped, wide-leg jeans for 5 years until it’s time to dig them out again. Beauty has cyclical trends too, but you really don’t want to rub 5-year-old product on your face. Think about how many times you’ve washed your face in 5 years. Now think about how many times you’ve washed that almost-forgotten eyeshadow shade. Get it? Great. Now go through and say goodbye to all of those cringe-worthy trends of old.

Fill the void

Every beauty bag should have a little fun, so find a new trend to test out. Matte lips are having a major moment and unlike the last generation of matte lipsticks, our Matte Liquid Lipstick is super moisturizing so your lips don’t have to suffer for fashion. Prefer a traditional lipstick bullet? BAREPRO Longwear Lipstick provides that perfect soft-matte finish in a lasting vegan lipstick formula. Highlighters are another hot topic, and our BAREPRO GLOW Liquid Highlighter is an easy to use (AKA hard to mess up), versatile formula that can be mixed with your liquid foundation, or dabbed on for a targeted glow.

What to Ditch: Bewildering Beauty Products 

A wiggly liquid liner, that allegedly-easy contouring kit… if you’re physically incapable of good results, we recommend clearing it out of the way so you can see the fun stuff you have mastered. All this cleaning may be awakening your desire to simplify, so identify any impossible products and say goodbye to unnecessary beauty drama and clutter.

Fill the void

Get back to beautiful basics with a GET STARTED Complexion Kit. Or streamline your mornings with COMPLEXION RESCUE Tinted Moisturizer for moisture plus coverage in one step. And if you just dumped 5 years of eyeliner fails, try ONE FINE LINE Precision Eyeliner — it’s a twist up pencil with intense mineral color that’s super smooth and easy to use.

Now that you’ve cleared out the clutter, learn to clean and maintain your makeup brushes, makeup and more in Part II of our spring cleaning series, which is all about how to clean your makeup brushes.