Pros Explain: Does Your Makeup Have a Shelf Life?

The simple answer here is yes … duh. Like all good things, makeup does eventually come to an end, whether it’s a result of us using it up or it expiring. While the first option is a best-case scenario, some of us take our sweet time going through our makeup products and often run the risk of using it well after it’s gone bad. This means bad news for your skin, as expired makeup can contain gross bacteria that will irritate your skin and make it break out. YUCK. Avoid catastrophe by finding out when you should be throwing out your makeup and how to read the telltale signs that it’s gone bad.

Makeup Expiration Dates

Foundation/Concealer: 6-12 Months



One thing to note is that not all products have the same shelf life. Every foundation formula, blush, eye shadow etc. includes unique ingredients that can impact its expiration. And while liquid and cream foundations typically last about six to eight months, New York City-based makeup artist Ashley Rebecca says it’s important to pay attention to expiration dates on your items. Because liquid foundations are water-based, they are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria, so be sure to keep an eye on the state of your makeup. “The real indication is smell and how your skin reacts,” says Rebecca. “Foundation that starts to separate is a key sign you need to replace your liquid makeup.” Use these rules of thumb with other liquid based face makeup: bronzer, highlighter, blush, etc.


Eye Shadow: 3-6 Months

Although powder-based eye shadows can be categorized with other powder-based makeup, they should be approached a bit differently. Think about it: Eye shadows are in constant contact with one of the oiliest parts of the face and, therefore, risk picking up tons of bacteria and yucky stuff. So, while you can keep eye shadow a bit longer than you would, say, mascara, you should definitely keep a close eye on it. “You can get by with eye shadows for a longer period of time, as long as your eyes don't itch,” explains Rebecca. If your eyes are getting irritated, red or itchy, it’s probably time to say “farewell” to your shadow. Sorry!


Blush, Bronzer & Face Powders: Up to 2 Years

Blush, bronzer and other face products probably have the longest shelf life in the makeup kingdom. If kept in a cool, dry place (not your bathroom) these bad boys can last a couple of years or so! To make your powder products last for the long haul, brush upkeep is key. Clean your brushes regularly and spritz your products with a makeup sanitizer after you use them. This will keep bacteria at bay and give your makeup more mileage.


Lipstick & Lip Gloss: Up to 1 Year

Change in texture and/or smell are key indicators your lipstick or gloss has called it quits. “If you notice your lipstick has a very waxy smell, that's a sign it's on its way out,” explains Rebecca. “Lip glosses that get a weird chemical- or cheese-like smell (gross, but it happens) are in the clear to throw out.” At least this means you get to shop for new lippies, right?


Mascara: 3 Months

Of all the makeup products, mascara should be the item you watch the most diligently. Because the wand is in constant contact with your lash area (which is often moist and prone to oils), it attracts bacteria pretty quickly. Make sure you stick to a three-month time limit as bacteria-infused mascara can make for some serious eye irritation. Look out for clumpy and/or weird-smelling mascara, as these are signs it’s gone bad!


Eyeliner: Up to 1 Year

Kohl eye and brow pencils last a bit longer than other eye makeup products because they are constantly being sharpened. Liquid liners, however, should be replaced after about four months or so because, like mascara, they come in constant contact with your eyes!  

Photo: thinkstock

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    About the Author: Angela helps inspire and inform the Makeup.com audience by delivering the latest beauty tips, tricks and trends.