Your Makeup May Not Be Safe, Here’s Why

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Your makeup may be hiding more than blemishes. It could be harboring mold. Mold in your cosmetics can cause breakouts and skin irritation.¹ And inhaling the mold can cause restricted breathing.2

We did some research and asked Michael Rubino, an air quality expert, for tips on safe makeup practices.

Woman wearing lipstick with nails coming out of her mouth

Image: Rodolfo Clix, Pexels

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Where is the best place to store your makeup?

“Not in the bathroom!" says Rubino. "When storing makeup, you want to place it in a cool, dry place. Bathrooms are the exact opposite of these types of environments, as we constantly bombard them with water from the shower, toilet, and sink.

Makeup and makeup tools can attract mold spores. Reducing the moisture removes the opportunity for growth and keeps those products safer and healthier for longer.

What types of makeup should we be tossing on the regular?

“All types of makeup can get moldy due to the ingredients within,” says Rubino. "But those that are used most frequently have a higher chance of getting moldy faster. As these products are taken out, opened, and applied to the face every day, harmful contaminants can build up within them, like bacteria and mold spores."

When should I toss my makeup?

Use these guidelines for tossing your makeup:

  • If a product has an expiration date, stick to it and get rid of expired products.
  • Keep a checklist of toss-out dates so you don't forget. 
  • Use your nose. If a product has a damp, musty, earthy smell or it just smells off, toss it.

Every type of makeup has a different amount of time it can be used before it goes bad.3 Use this list to help you determine when a product is past its prime:

  • Mascara: 6 months
  • Liquid eyeliners: 6 months
  • Dry eyeliners: until they run out
  • Concealers: 6 months
  • Cream-to-powder foundation compacts: 6 months
  • Creamy highlighter pencils: 6 months
  • Cream blushes: 6 months
  • Cream eye shadow: 6 months
  • Powder blush and eyeshadow: 2 years
  • Lipstick: 6 months
  • Lip balm: 6 months

Toss makeup tools on a regular basis too. “For reusable beauty blenders/makeup sponges, for instance, it’s safest to replace them at the three-month mark. A good idea is to set a series of phone reminders to help remember when to replace each item,” says Rubino.

Make your whole home safe

Give more than just your makeup bag a safety check. Use our Complete Home Safety and Security Checklist to make your house safer.

Woman holding makeup brush

Image: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

Is there a particular type of cleaning regimen that prevents mold growth the best?

EcoTools Makeup Cleaner
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“The more frequently makeup tools are cleaned, the better," says Rubino. “Since these items touch your face frequently, particles such as mold spores, organic matter, and bacteria can build up. By removing these particles, the brushes are cleaner and safer to use. They’re also free from components that can allow for mold growth, like skin cells.”

Here’s Rubino’s quick guide to the best cleaning routine:

  • Makeup brushes: wash them with a gentle cleanser and hydrogen peroxide at least once a week.
  • Makeup sponges: wash them with a gentle cleanser and hydrogen peroxide after every use.
  • Eyelash curler: clean it with hydrogen peroxide once a week.
  • Pencil sharpener: clean it with hydrogen peroxide after every use.
  • Tweezers: clean them with hydrogen peroxide after every use.

Once everything is clean, allow each item to dry completely before placing it back into storage. According to Rubino, a damp item is a moldable item. 

Related articles on SafeWise


  1. The Mayo Clinic, “The Risks of Using Expired Makeup,” December 2021. Accessed March 10, 2022.
  2. The Mayo Clinic, “Mold Allergy.” Accessed March 10, 2022.
  3. Cleveland Clinic, “When Should You Toss Your Makeup?” January 2021. Accessed March 10, 2022.


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Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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