While worth the cost, natural-ingredient-based, cruelty-free and organic cosmetics are crazy expensive. Plus, safe disposable of unused cosmetics can be tricky, so it's well worth your time to make your makeup last as long as possible. First of all, find some favorite safe and eco-friendly cosmetics, then stick with them. Constantly trying new cosmetics can be fun, sure, but it's also very wasteful. A tried and true makeup routine on a mostly daily basis is eco-friendly, so save the experimentation for special occasions only. Secondly, all cosmetics do have true expiration dates, and it's not a good idea to keep them after that date. Overall, natural cosmetics have a shorter shelf life than typical cosmetics because they often lack preservatives. A good rule of thumb is to toss any cosmetics once they become discolored, smell "off", or change consistency in a major way. That said, it's a real blow to your routine, wallet, and landfill when your products don't even make it to their expiration date, so below are some tips that can help you protect your products and make all your favorite cosmetics last longer.
The Big Bads: Heat, Light, Air, & Moisture
Don’t double task! Most of us do our hair, makeup and everything else all at once, near the bathroom sink or in a steamy bathroom after we shower, but excess heat, light, air and moisture are like mini-death sentences to cosmetics. Your hair spritzer, blow dryer, shower steam, or droplets from the sink can ruin your favorite products long before their true expiration date.
- Consider a primping area that’s not in your bathroom, such as a bedroom vanity or even just a nice big mirror hanging in your bedroom. Or you can keep your cosmetics in a carry case with a decent mirror and do your makeup somewhere else in the house.
- Keep most makeup, but especially foundations and concealers, out of direct sunlight. UV rays can cause cosmetics to spoil faster.
- Always make sure you tighten every cosmetic lid or snap that case shut tight after use.
- Store lipstick, eyeliner, and other glossy/creamy cosmetics in a cool place, or even in the fridge to expand their life. If you find it’s annoying to run to the fridge for makeup, at least place seasonal cosmetics in the fridge, such as storing winter colors in the fridge during the summer, and vice versa.
- Makeup tricksters will often recommend using a dab of H2O with powders such as eye shadows or liner for better blending, and that’s smart, but don’t dip a wet brush right into the powder. Grab a bit of powder on a clean finger, then dab at that powder with your wet brush.
Make Lipstick & Gloss Last Longer
Honestly, lipstick and lip gloss are fairly long-lasting products. The number one wasteful lipstick/lip gloss habit I see is accidentally tossing lipsticks and gloss into the washer and dryer. A sturdy lipstick may survive the washer, but no way will it survive the dryer, and worse, you’ll end up with pink polka dotted clothing. Long story short—always check your pockets before washing your clothes!
- Avoid plastic tubes of lip color when you can; palettes or pots of lip color are easier to use up. Pots are the best choice because you can carry them with you and reapply more easily than with a palette, plus it’s simple to wash and reuse the pots for lotion on the go, or even refill with your own homemade lip gloss.
- If you like push-up or applicator lipstick and lip gloss tubes, use a tiny lip brush to get every last lick of lipstick or gloss out of the tube. In fact, you can even buy a special lip gloss scoop and applicator that will pick up every drop of lip gloss from your almost empty tube.
- Did a favorite lipstick break or melt? No worries—you can fix that.
Make Powdered & Cream Cosmetics Last Longer
When dealing with cosmetics that come in either creamy or powdered form, go with a powder if you can. Powdered cosmetics, such as blush and eye shadow, last far longer than their cream-based peers. Also try the following:
- You should really only own one foundation and one concealer at a time. Have a professional help you find a perfect shade of each, then use them up before buying more.
- If you use water-based foundation and it dries out, add a few drops of alcohol-free toner to the bottle and shake well to re-hydrate.
- Oil-based foundations won’t dry out as quickly as water-based or need to be re-hydrated, but buy smaller bottles when you can, because cosmetics with oils can go bad more quickly. If you see that your oil-based foundation has separated, but it still smells fine, it’s not a big deal; just give the bottle a good shake.
- Consider buying foundation with a small-mouthed bottle vs. a wide-mouthed one. Wide-mouths expose more of your product to the air every time you open them.
- If your favorite eye shadow or pressed powder breaks apart, no need to toss it. You can break it up further and use as a loose powder or add a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol to the pieces, then press them back together.
- If you buy a bronzer or light colored (think yellow, silver, or pink) shimmery eye shadow, and they’re almost gone or not the right color for your face, you can use a clean brush to mix the extra with your favorite moisturizer to create shimmer lotion for your chest or arms.
Make Mascara & Eye Liner Last Longer
Mascara has one, if not the shortest life spans of any cosmetic product out there. Don’t buy more than one or two at a time, because most of it will simply go to waste. Here are a few more tips for preserving mascara’s life span:
- Don’t pump the mascara wand in and out of the tube more than necessary, or you’ll expose too much of the product to the air and dry it out more quickly.
- If mascara starts to clump before its true expiration date, place the tube (cap on) in a cup of almost boiling water for about three to five minutes.
- Wipe down where the wand and tube meet after use which allows the lid to seal tightly and keep air out of the tube.
- Use solid, not liquid liners if you have a choice, as they last longer and stay fresh longer too, so there’s a better chance you’ll use them up.
- Eye and lip pencils do touch your face directly, often, so in order to prevent bacteria and make them last longer (up to a year) you should sharpen the pencils once a week to prevent bacteria building up on the tip. Excess bacteria isn’t healthy and reduces the shelf life of your liner.
- If your solid liner pencils start to harden to the point where you can’t use them, dab a wee bit of olive oil on the tip of the pencil. Rub the oil in carefully and gently rub the pencil on your hand or other skin to warm the pencil up and get it working again.
Make Nail Polish Last Longer
Nail polish lasts much longer than most other cosmetics, but you can still expand upon its already long lifespan with the tips below.
- Never ever use nail polish remover to thin your nail polish and expand its lifespan. If the polish remover contains acetone, you’re just going to ruin the formula of your favorite polish. What you can do is buy some nail polish thinner (available at most drugstores) to safely extend the life of your enamels.
- If your fave polish has a nothing-will-budge-this-stupid-stuck-on lid problem, try this trick before giving up and tossing the whole bottle. To avoid stuck lids in the first place, store your polish collection in an upright position.
- After you polish your nails, always take a moment to wipe excess residue off the threaded portion of the bottle. Not only does this help prevent stuck-on lids, but it allows you to screw the lid on tightly, which is important if you don’t want your polish to dry out.
- Keep your enamels in a cool, dry, dark place. Nail polish, though it seems hardier than other cosmetics, still goes bad more quickly if you store it in a humid bathroom, or in direct sunlight.
Make Cosmetic Tools Last Longer
Start with the most eco-friendly cosmetic tools you can. EcoTools® makes a collection of 100 percent cruelty-free brushes with soft bristles, sleek bamboo handles, and recycled aluminum ferrules. They also have other cool eco-friendly makeup tools such as foam applicators, and lash & brow brushes.
- Consider a washable makeup sponge: it won’t last forever, but you can wash and use it many more times than typical sponge wedges and it works better than a reusable washcloth.
- If your bristles start to come out of your face brushes, grab a pair of pliers and squeeze the aluminum part of your brush to re-secure the bristles.
- It’s worth the money to buy both a cosmetic sanitizer and cosmetic brush shampoo/wash. Cleaning your brushes and other tools on a regular basis not only prevent bacteria growth (and breakouts) but make your tools last longer. In fact some experts have said that well-cared for quality cosmetic brushes can last for years.
- After you wash your brushes, be sure to lay them flat as they dry, otherwise the bristles may break or lose their shape before their time.