Throw Out That Old Makeup And Your Eyes Will Thank You

For many, makeup can be a favorite part of your daily routine or even a hobby. Some people follow the newest celeb collection coming out or the latest eyeshadow trend, or they jump on trends while picking a new mascara or eyeliner. Even for those that aren't into makeup all that much, it's easy to acquire it and not remember how long you've had it. Yet whether you look forward to brand-new collections as holiday gifts or simply pick up a new pencil here and there, keeping your makeup collection current is important.

Makeup has definite expiration dates which should be followed. However, it's also true that many people don't do it. According to one U.K. study, one in four people uses expired makeup (via UK News Group).

Yet, it's very important to keep your makeup collection fresh, especially when it comes to makeup that goes on your eyes. When eye makeup gets old, it can change texture and consistency, as per Ohio State Health & Discovery. It may flake off and enter your delicate eye area. You may also notice a foul smell and it may be difficult to apply. However, that's not the worst thing that can happen from using old makeup.

Eye infections can run rampant

When eye makeup passes its expiration date, chemical changes take place that can cause infection. This is because when the composition changes, it can lead it to become more easily contaminated by bacteria and mold, as per Refinery29.

Mascara is often a leading cause of infections when it comes to using old expired makeup. "Being used so close to the mucous membrane of the eye area and then inserted back into the moist mascara tube, the wand essentially inoculates microbes in a perfect environment for growth," Cosmetic Chemist Ramón Pagán told Refinery29.

Though mascara poses a high risk of infection from bacteria, so do eye pencils, brushes, and any other tools that may touch your eye directly. It's also not just bacteria that can inhabit old makeup, as mold can also grow in expired cosmetics.

This can result in eye infections. According to Vision Source, conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection acquired from old makeup. While conjunctivitis is a mild but irritating infection, some people have experienced temporary blindness from contaminated makeup, as per the University of Rochester Medical Center. The university publication also notes that sharing eye makeup with others can lead to dangerous infections.

When to throw away your eye makeup

"Mascaras may last up to two years if unused," celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau tells Byrdie. "But a general rule: It's best to replace yours every three months. If you continue to use it for longer, your mascara is more likely to flake off onto your face (or worse, into your eye) and not deliver your desired result."

Yet if you can't remember when you purchased the makeup or how long you've had it, try smelling the product. "You can really tell when it's gone bad because you'll notice a hint of something funky in the smell," explains makeup artist Kelli Bartlett. "You'll probably also be able to tell by the way the mascara goes onto your eyelashes. If it doesn't last throughout the day, it's another sign you need a new tube."

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration maintains that mascara is much less sustainable than other types of makeup and more likely to cause eye infections, so they recommend that consumers throw it away after three months. Mayo Clinic agrees on keeping mascara for only three months. The same goes for liquid eyeliner since liquid can hold bacteria more easily. However, pencil and gel eyeliners can be safely used for up to one year.