#TuesdaysWithLarry: Bid Farewell To Your Cosmetics Graveyard

Stop wasting money by letting your beauty products expire


Besides his amazing makeup skills and depth of knowledge on everything beauty, another reason why we love working with celebrity makeup artist Larry Yeo is his (often brutal) honesty. When you need someone to tell you your foundation colour is wrong, or your K-pop inspired brows are ridiculous, he’s your guy. So buckle up for #TuesdaysWithLarry, where the makeup maestro dishes out beauty tips, tricks and advice with a big spoonful of sass and spice.

If your beauty drawer looks like this, it's time to clean up your act

I have seen how it happens: That growing space on your cosmetics shelf that does not see the light of day; that cold and forgotten area where products are left to collect dust and decay; the creation of the cosmetics grave.

One day, as you’re going about your annual spring-cleaning, you’ll stumble upon these forgotten products and go “Oh! There it is!!!” or “Oh damn, that cost me quite an amount of money, wonder if I could still use it?” #NO

When I sit down with a client to look through their skincare and makeup products, and start throwing out the expired products one by one, their horrified looks never fail to get me in fits of laughter – not because I’m a cruel b*tch, but because I want to stop them from overbuying with my evil laughter. #SubliminalMessage

So, how do we prevent products from ending up in this void of time and space?

1 Stop buying products to stock up

No, going on that Korea/Europe trip doesn’t mean you should stock up on two years’ worth of products. We know you will get bored of it after the second bottle.

Asking your friends to buy from the airport because “it is cheaper” doesn’t make sense; you have two unused bottles!!!! Yes, it is cheaper by 30 percent, but forgetting the bottle until it expires means you are going to lose the other 70 percent.

It is a sale for a reason: If the product is not in a store, and is instead out in some hotel or function room on 50 to 70 percent sale; it is close to its expiration date. Just because things are on sale doesn’t mean your brain cells should be on 50 percent off too. #ExcuseBrainMoments

2 Put everything in plain sight if you are forgetful

TIP 1: Products that you are using now should be placed together, so you can separate them according to day and night use.

TIP 2: If your skincare or makeup products are hidden in a secret compartment, it will stay lost. They have to be in a compartment where you can easily access and see what is available.

TIP 3: If you have too many drawers to store your makeup and skincare products, they will likely be lost in the depths of random placement. So, try to limit your storage space for your products – keep them in a centralised area.

3 If you own more than 4 shades of the same makeup, stop buying that colour

I once went to a customer’s place to look through her makeup, as we were doing a one-to-one makeup lesson. She brought out 16 of her most commonly used lip glosses and they were all mauve (or brownish pink, as some people call it). I threw out 10 of them (some were bought nearly a decade ago!).

4 Always finish your skincare product before moving on to a new one

I know this will be difficult, because your newer, more expensive, and over-promised beneficial serum is awaiting in its box. But if you do not finish the existing bottle, are we supposed to watch it grow up and go through beauty school before returning back to you?

5 Labelling is very important

There is a simple way to determine when you should throw away your products. Use a sticker to label your product with MM-YY at the point of opening. For example, 04-16 means it was opened in April 2016. This gives you a clearer idea of when the product was first used – if your product is labelled 12-10, I think it has already evolved into a legendary Pokémon and it’s time to set it free in the bin. 

How would we find out the product shelf life then? The Health Science Authority dictates that products sold in Singapore have to be printed with their manufacturing and expiry date (the latter is required for products with a shelf life of less than 30 months). Shelf life refers to the period of time a product can be on sale for, and not how long one can store it after opening.

How long should you keep the product after opening and using?

Here’s a general guideline that I use:


In a tub: Less than 4 months

In a see-through bottle: Less than 4 months

In an opaque bottle: Less than 8 months

In a pump form: 12 months

In a squeeze tube: 12 months


Mascara/Eyeliner: Less than 3 months

Cream products (shadow/blush/tinted lip balm): Less than 6 months

In a squeeze tube or pump: 8-12 months

Lip products: less than 12 months

*Pressed Powders : 12-24 months

*Loose Powders: 12-24 months

*Pressed Powders or Loose Powders include any form of colour makeup

How should you store your products?

Away from direct sunlight and heat exposure. Preferably in a cabinet, where once opened, you can see all your products neatly laid out.

Do NOT store your products in the fridge, unless instructed by the brands

Skincare products are formulated to withstand a wide range of temperature with its complex, optimised structure ensuring consistency. Storing skincare products in the fridge is just an old wives’ tale – the action of taking the product in and out of the fridge may destabilise the formula due to the huge change in temperature. The sudden switch may also render your skincare or makeup products useless, due to condensation of moisture in the products, which may then dilute its efficacy and preservative system.

Always use freshly washed hands (or sanitised with a 70 percent alcohol spray) before you apply skincare or makeup, or you may end up growing a bacteria/fungi farm in your product and blame the beauty company for your sociopathic error. 

As for makeup, 

- if the lip product smells strange and changes colour,

- the colour of your eyeshadow product changes,

- the foundation stays separated even after shaking the bottle, and/or

- if you cannot even remember how the original lipstick colour or powder colour looks like…

... It is time to bury that product like your horrible Tinder date with bad breath from last week.

For more from Larry Yeo, check out #TuesdaysWithLarry: Horrors From The Beauty Retail Floor and #TuesdaysWithLarry: The Right Match.

sign up for our newsletter

Sign up to receive a weekly round-up of the latest fashion, beauty and lifestyle news!

By signing up, I consent to Elle’s Terms & Conditions.


you will love this

we also recommend

you’ll love this