9 Things You Definitely Shouldn't Be Using Anymore

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
I'm something of a beauty-product hoarder. I refuse to get rid of a thing, because who knows when I'm going to need that bright-blue eyeshadow and/or that black lipstick I first swatched on my hand three years ago? When the moment does arrive to whip out that Victoria's Secret body lotion from middle school, you know who will be ready? This girl. But you know who might also break out from it? This girl.

Turns out, a lot of those products you've had since forever are either bad for you or, after a while, simply no longer working. We spoke with cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson to learn which ones you should toss out, like, tonight, and why. No better time than the present for a beauty purge, right?
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Mascara That Keeps Clumping
We know the joy that comes with finding the wand and formula that give you the lashes of your dreams, as well as the fear of running out of that dream mascara. But once the texture starts to change, it's time to get rid of it — it won't leave you with the same effect, anyway. The product crusting around the sides, hardening, coming out clumpy, or no longer evenly coating the brush are all signs that it's time to toss the tube.

To make sure your beloved mascara sticks around for as long as possible, be sure to close it tightly every time you're done with it. "Just like once your mascara is coated onto your lashes — and exposed to the elements — it dries up, the same thing happens if your tube is left open for too long," says Wilson.

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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Those Middle-School Body Lotions
You know what we're talking about — the ones you hoarded, maybe even "borrowed," from your best friends. Sure, some of them are making comebacks, but, admit it, you still have a couple of candy-colored bottles under your bathroom sink from the early '00s (no shame; we do, too). If you're keeping that Cucumber Melon purely for nostalgia's sake, that's okay — but if you plan on using it, we've got bad news.

If you see liquid coming out before the lotion does, or if it's a cottage-cheese-like consistency, it's definitely time to toss a moisturizing product. These signs indicate that it is likely no longer doing its job. "It may not be as effective now...[so] you’re not going to get equal amounts of moisturization," says Wilson.

It also means the formula might have changed. “For creams that have AHAs [alpha-hydroxy acids], if you keep them and notice that the texture has changed, and you still continue to use it, well, now you’re risking irritation because you don’t know the new concentration," explains Wilson. "It could be a little higher when you first started, because the water has evaporated and left it a little more concentrated, so you want to be careful about that."
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Also, Those Middle-School Fragrances
Those body lotions you've held on to probably have matching scents. Come on, don't front: You know they're right next to their buddies under your bathroom sink. But, just like their creamy brethren, if perfumes hang around for too long, they won't be as effective.

“Fragrances are not meant to last forever," says Wilson. "[It's] no more than...around 18 months or so [before they] naturally start to break down." Depending on the ingredients, this could mean changes in smell or color.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Sunscreen Products You've Left In Your Bag
Once you open your sunscreen, the shelf-life is sufficiently shorter than a regular moisturizer's. Because they have such high oil contents, they are prone to going to bad faster. There are a couple of factors that play into when exactly you should toss your sunscreen — like where you store it (try somewhere the where the sun won't hit it) and how often you use it — but one telltale sign is when the color starts to change.

"If the color really starts to shift away from where it started, that means something in the formula is either reacting to the environment, the air, or other ingredients," she explains. "You don’t know what’s driving that reaction and you don’t know what the efficacy is going to be — you don’t know if it’s going to be irritating to your skin, either.”

Now that we're talking sunscreen, it might be good to note for future purchases that as much as brands might try to convince you that you absolutely, positively need an SPF 99+ in your life, you actually don't. "In all honestly, sun protection does not increase over 30," says Wilson. "There is a huge difference between SPF 15 and 30, but not so much between 30 and 100."
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
That Foundation That Doesn't Do You Any Favors
If you're constantly the friend who ends up looking like Casper in every group photo, honey, your foundation needs to get the boot. We get it, finding a formula that matches your skin tone to a T — despite the light — is hard. Real hard. So be sure to read this before you replace it.

If you've already found your holy-grail foundation, but you're starting to see striations — a.k.a. tiger stripes — alongside your bottle or when you pump the product onto a sponge, it's also time to let it go. "If the pigments are no longer uniform in a bottle, they’re certainly not going to be uniform when you put it on your skin," explains Wilson. "So you’re going to look patchy and blotchy, so the color just won’t be even."

Insider tip: Putting your foundation in the refrigerator will slow down the going-bad process. “Instability is inevitable," says Wilson. "Now I know nobody wants cold foundation, we know that. But [that's] a way to slow down that reaction."

This also works for creams and lotions, she adds.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Eyeliner You Used When You Were Sick
Have pink eye recently? Or another infection that involved mucus in the corners of your eyes? (Sorry for that visual...) Did you still go out in an attempt to make yourself feel better? Did you still throw on your go-to Saturday night cat-eye? Yeah, you should probably throw that liner out.

"You could potentially open yourself to infection, like bacterial infection, if you continually use the same eye product," explains Wilson. "The preservative systems are good but they’re not made to constantly overcome things like that."
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Those Makeup Brushes You Haven't Washed In Awhile
It's a well-known fact (at least, it should be), that makeup brushes that aren't washed regularly can harbor some pretty nasty germs that can negatively affect skin. "If you have an underlying condition — such as eczema, or acne, or a break in the skin — and use a dirty or contaminated brush, you certainly expose yourself to the risk of infection or just aggravation," Manhattan dermatologist Julie Karen, MD, told us back in July.

If the last time you washed your makeup brushes was also the last time you logged into your Myspace, it might be time to ditch them all and start afresh. Moving forward, you should be washing them twice a month, according to Dr. Karen.

You should not only keep in mind the regularity of washing but also how you wash them. "If they are not cleaned and dried properly, then there is a potential that the water-based [bacteria] it could've possibly been exposed to can grow," says Wilson. "This could mean staph or mold."

Need a little refresher on how to clean your brushes? We got you.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Nail Polishes With Toxic Ingredients
While 9-free and 7-free polishes might be a ploy, ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate have been shown to cause both cancer and reproductive complications. And those are just some of the health risks people face if exposed to these toxins for long periods of time, as The New York Times investigative piece from this summer revealed.

Do you and your future self a favor and throw polishes with these ingredients in the trash sooner rather than later.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Powdered Eyeshadow You Used Wet That One Time
Powdered eyeshadows are a pretty long-lasting product — you can essentially use it until it either disappears or starts to crumble. The trouble comes in when you wet your brush and use your eyeshadow in order to get a more intense color.

This may shorten the shadow lifespan because it’s eventually going to become hard — too hard to actually use. Also, introducing water can make your palette a prime place for bugs to grow. "While [powdered eyeshadows] do have preservatives, they’re not meant to be wet," says Wilson. "So the preservative system may not be strong enough to actually [withstand] that kind of a treatment."
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