By Kimberly Holland
It's important not to gamble with eye products. Germ-ridden applicators and dried-up or dirty powders can cause nasty problems—bacteria like staphylococcus, which causes pink eye, and streptococcus (the cause of strep throat) may have set up shop—in that sensitive area. "Infection around eyes is the worst byproduct of expired makeup," says Lisa Airan, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City.
Spring is a good time to toss mascara and eyeliner that are four months or older. Eye pencils last up to three years but keep them germ-free by shaving away several layers every few days. Long-lasting powder eyeshadows may go out of style (this spring's popular colors are emerald greens and lilacs, says makeup artist Napoleon Perdis) long before they expire, but if they develop a crust or fall apart, it's time to toss.
The best beauty trick: Don't reuse the same eye shadow applicator over and over again, says Dr. Airan. Instead, use cotton swabs and toss them after every use. Keep your colors out of heat and sunlight, and avoid high-humidity areas in your bathroom.