Are You Skin Smart? Take the Quiz


Let’s pretend for a moment that it’s not a balmy 50-something degrees in D.C. right now, and that spring has arrived at last. As we get on with the obligatory spring cleaning, we begin to wonder, is our makeup sponge a porous house of bacteria? Is our favorite serum reduced to expensive water because the active ingredients have gone to bed? Let’s find out in the Skin Smart Quiz.

Your relationship with makeup—select all that apply.

1. Eyes

a. My mascara has lasted longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries.
b. Eye shadow is like a Twinkie—it never goes bad.
c. I clean my brushes but never my eyeliner or lipstick sharpener.

2. Lipstick

a. I reapply lip products immediately after consuming meals.
b. I share lip balms and lipsticks with family and close friends.
c. When it comes to applying lip moisturizers with a finger, a girl’s got to do, what a girl’s got to do (even if a girl has not washed her hands first).

3. Foundation

a. I wear a liquid or cream foundation.
b. I apply foundation with a sponge.
c. I wear makeup infrequently, so my bottle of foundation is older than Instagram.

4. Serums

a. I take care of my skin with antioxidants, especially vitamin C. I’m less concerned if my antioxidants receive too much air exposure.
b. I store my serum out in the open, where direct sunlight hits the bottle.
c. What exactly is a serum?

5. Moisturizers

a. My moisturizer sits in a big, beautiful jar.
b. I use a moisturizer with SPF that lasts forever. I’ve had mine for over a year.
c. My moisturizer smells funky. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong.


Add a point for each answer that applied to you. If you scored…

1-4 points: Congratulations, beauty aficionado! You don’t mess around with expiration dates, too much air and sunlight exposure, and keep your equipment super clean. Do you perform house calls as well?

5-9 points: Welcome to club Nobody’s Perfect. There’s room for improvement in knowing how to store your beauty essentials and recognizing when it’s appropriate to throw them out.

10-15 points: You in danger, girl. You may need to make a Sephora run and stock up on a few skincare and makeup supplies, stat.



Out of all of the makeup that comes into contact with your face, old and dirty eye makeup is the worst. Shadows mixed with water to create a more intense pigment increase bacteria growth, and you do not want to introduce your eyes to microscopic invaders. Eyeliners are less of a risk; just make sure your sharpener is regularly cleaned. And after 3 months, say goodbye to your bottle of mascara.


Going for a touch up after a meal? Be careful. Tiny food particles could stick on your tube of lipstick and invite bacteria to a rouge feast. Wipe your lips with a cloth or tissue first before reapplying lipstick after a case of the munchies. Similarly, wash your hands before dunking your fingers in a pot of gloss. And share with friends? That’s cool. Just know that you could also be sharing a virus, from the common cold to herpes. In this case, it’s okay to be selfish.


Oil-based liquid and cream foundations attract bacteria fairly quickly, so they expire much earlier than their powder counterparts. Give liquids and creams 6-12 months before tossing and up to 2 years for powders. SPF foundations won’t last forever, so get vigilant and check the expiration date on the package.

Use a sponge for application? Make sure to dump the disposable ones after a few uses and wash more durable options (like beautyblender) with soap and water once a week.


Like resilient paint that won’t let rust cover a car, antioxidants stop your face from fine-lining and discoloring (aka age spots or hyperpigmentation). The downside is that their magical facial powers have a short shelf life—like 3 to 6 months tops. Vitamin C is rendered useless when exposed to too much sunlight and air, so keep that in a dark spot and in a tight container. Do the same jig with your evening retinol treatment and toss after 6 to 12 months.


By now you should know that everything has an expiration date, and moisturizers are no exception. They typically last up to 2 years (federal law requires sunscreen to remain stable for up to 3 years, but the bacteria by then—que horror!). Dispensers are relevant too. Pumps allow less air and bacteria exposure than jars, and yes, that includes the big, beautiful, expensive kinds as well.

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