Beauty Alert Stickers: When Should You Toss Old Cosmetics Anyway?

Part of the fun of makeup is getting to buy new products to add to your collection, and feeling satisfaction in having an array of choices and colors to use. If you’re like me, this means you like to buy pretty eyeshadows that you rarely use but keep around “just in case” you’re in the mood to do that ice blue liner thing you saw in last month’s Elle. Hello arsenal of teeny compacts, samples, and lip glosses for the masses! But still, I don’t like to part with any of these. I tend to keep them around.

If you’re the type who hordes makeup as well, you probably don’t pay too much attention to throwing out your products when you’re supposed to. Or, perhaps you don’t even consider that keeping things around for years is harmful, in which case you may want to check out these Beauty Alert stickers, which will remind you when to chuck out-of-date items (or just force you to do some cosmetic spring cleaning). And here’s why it’s important …The pack of Beauty Alert stickers comes tailored for specific products (because off the top of your head, do you really know what the shelf life of eyeliner is?) like lipstick, blush/bronzer, liquid eyeliner, sunscreen (that’s an important one), cream eyeshadow, and hair styling products. Just write the date of first use and slap the label on. [$8.50 per pack, via Inventor Spot]

If this reminded you to make an assessment of the makeup you’ve had around for a while, here’s a little refresher course on the dangers of old cosmetics:

Why? Out-of-date items harbor bacteria which can cause infections or rashes—particular culprits are eye products like mascara and liquid liner. There’s a greater risk with the ones you’ve applied with your fingertips or repeatedly dipped makeup brushes in without cleaning. Also: In creams and hair products, the chemical formula begins to break down over time.

When? The one item to really replace regularly is mascara, which starts to go bad after three months. Next after that is foundation, twice a year or so. Lipsticks are fine for a year.

How? When you’re ready to toss a product, check the brand’s website to see if they have any recycling incentives. Then you can do the environment a favor and get something fun back in return … to add to your collection.

[Also, um, you could probably accomplish the same thing with blank file stickers that cost way less.–Editor]