You’ve Heard It Before, But Makeup DOES Expire

Published in: Beauty Tips, Makeup Tips/How To

Use a refrigerator to keep makeup fresh longer

Ew, what’s that smell?


Oh, it’s just my makeup… 🙂

How do you know when that tube o’ lipgloss or pan of eyeshadow has expired? Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to tell. Most beauty products lack expiration dates, and some may not visibly change when they’ve given up the ghost.

Still, even when it’s obvious that a product has gone bad, some of us refuse to let go. This summer the market researchers at Mintel found that just one in four British women discard their makeup, shampoo or shower gel after it starts to smell strange or look discolored. source

Why? Because, the researchers found, many of the women surveyed weren’t aware the products could expire.

Just like food items, beauty products — even natural and organic ones — are breeding grounds for bacteria, and natural products that contain fewer (or no) preservatives often have the shortest shelf lives of all. The risk of using products high in bacteria is INFECTION.

Lawd knows I’m guilty of keeping beauty products around far longer than I should … but sometimes it’s just so hard to say goodbye! 🙂

Expiration dates — from the time of first use

  • Powders and shadows: 2 years
  • Blush and Bronzer: 2 years
  • Cream shadows: 12 to 18 months
  • Concealer: 12 to 18 months
  • Foundation: 1 year
  • Lipstick & lipliner: 1 year
  • Lip gloss: 18 to 24 months
  • Mascara & eyeliners: 3 months
  • Nail Color: 1 year
  • Makeup brushes: Clean weekly using a mild detergent
  • Makeup sponges: Replace weekly or when sponge becomes soiled

What else can you do?

Beyond these rough guidelines, it helps to enlist the help of your nose in checking beauty booty. If something smells a little off, maybe it is.


More things to watch out for? 1) Store products away from direct sunlight and heat, which can destroy preservatives and accelerate the growth of bacteria; 2) refrigerate products (some take better to cold temps than others do) to slow the growth of bacteria; 3) don’t use eye products when you have an eye infection; 4) be careful when you mix products because you could be spreading bacteria around; and 5) be aware that using shared department store testers is a primo A#1 way to catch something SCARY!

For even more on telling if your makeup has expired…

How to Know If Your Cosmetics Are Expired

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. How was your afternoon? Anything cool happen today? I managed to sneak away for a few minutes up to Sephora and left with Lancome’s new Hypnose Drama mascara… Can’t wait to give it a try!

Other than that, I rented Confessions of a Shopaholic to watch tonight. Tabs is a big Isla Fisher fan. 🙂


Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 17 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Sheena says:

    Hi Karen,
    Just wanted to say I absolutely LOVE your blog for it’s helpfulness (ESPECIALLY with this article…I think I need to start cleaning out my stuff). I am filipino as well and personally find it very helpful when you show swatches of products because then I know what it’d look like on my skin. So thanks for all that!

    Well after I found out mascara expired after 3 months of opening it I sadly had to throw out my Dior Iconic after an extended __ month use :\ I went to sephora with the intent of buying it again … but it’s a hefty sum especially on a college girl’s budget. The sephora staff was helpful enough to suggest the Clinique High Definition Lashes Brush Then Comb Mascara. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but if you haven’t then i REALLY think you should. I feel it’s a two-up from Iconic for two reasons. First and foremost it gives so much more color and definition. And secondly it’s HALF the price 😀

  2. Alison says:

    eek I don’t even think about use-by dates on my make-up, I spend so much money on I couldn’t bear to throw it out! Especially some of my Chanel pretties.

  3. giselle says:

    i’m sorry but i dont pay $16 for an eyeliner just to throw it away in 3 months..nooo way. lol i make my money last!

  4. Thanks for this info, Karen. I’ve read conflicting information regarding makeup expiration but I will trust you on this. 🙂

    .-= All Women Stalker’s last blog post… 5 Skirt-errific Posts to BlogStalk… =-.

  5. amy says:

    I know liquid goes bad quicker then powders, when it is smelling different or the colour and texture changes it is time to say bye bye. I don’t think powders actually goes bad though, unless you got moister in it or it has been exposed to sunlight for very long time and the colour, smell and texture changes. Otherwise I think powders last forever.

    Giselle: I think the expiration date for the eye liner Karen refers applies to liquid eyeliners because of the moister factor and the applicator being dipped continuously in and out of the container causing contamination over time. Regular pencil liners will last you until you finish it up because every time you sharpen a pencil you get rid of the older layer with bacteria build up.
    .-= amy’s last blog post… FOTD MAC Photo Realism Quad by MAC MA =-.

  6. ritadebora says:

    I have a lipstick that was given to me by my dear grandmother when I was 15. She passed away in 1991 and I’m now 33 years old. Send that lipstick to the garbage? Never crossed my mind and never will.
    She also gave me a bottle of “Anais Anais” perfume once and I still have it 🙂

  7. Marce says:

    I name myself guilty! 😀
    When I see a product isn’t working how it should be, or something is too dry or smells weird, I will chuck it out. But I don’t guide myself by use by dates, I think they’re just there to make you buy more often. I mean, I’ve had a couple of mascaras for more than a year and they’re still working rad.
    Confessions of a Shopaholic was cute, I loved Luke (was it Luke?). I also read the books, they’re addictive!
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… Sombra Dúo Natura Viva – Review & Swatches =-.

  8. Tiffany says:

    3 months for an eyeliner? even if you sharpen it?! that one surprises me 🙁

  9. sunmom says:

    it’s too bad mascaras and eyeliners only last around 3 months, because for them, it would really be a must to throw them away because we use them on our eyes…i’ve read somewhere about the PAO symbol or “period after opening” and it helped me a lot. now i mark the date of when i started using EVERY product!
    .-= sunmom’s last blog post… Let’s Fight Dengue!!! =-.

  10. Marisol says:

    Guilty! I keep things longer than I should o_O!

    Let me know how you liked that movie. it was sadly disappointed with it since I am a big fan of the books.
    .-= Marisol’s last blog post… Obsessed much? =-.

  11. lexi says:

    okay i’m good with keeping track of my mascaras but i don’t think i can go through ALL of my eyeshadows in 2 yrs if i truly want to get my moneys worth – I guess this is a good way to keep myself in check with buying makeup – especially pricey palettes!

  12. Elle says:

    Man, only 2 years for powder eyeshadows? That’s crazy, given that one eyeshadow can be expensive. I know I have some MAC ones that are at least 3 years old. Ugh.

  13. Alison says:

    I can never remember when I first used a product in order to keep track of it.

    I once went to an Estee Lauder seminar thing and the speaker suggested putting a small sticky label on the bottom of the product with the date you opened it.

    Sounds good in theory but I get so exited about trying something new the thought of sticking a label on it doesn’t even enter my head!

  14. Stef says:

    La la la, I don’t hear you, la la la!
    .-= Stef’s last blog post… Does Crème de la Mer really work? A review… =-.

  15. Savannah says:

    I use power foundation, and I use it up within 6 months. I have one powder blush, that I’ve almost had for 2 years. I’ll try to use that one up. As for my eyeshadows, some are nearing 2 years with me and there’s no way I’m using those up….. I throw out mascara often, sometimes even after just one month, the one i was using got so dry so quick -.-
    I noticed that my one pan of naked lunch, i guess after lots of use was getting funny towards the end… along with my sable eyeshadow it doesn’t go on as nice as it used to. I try to follow these guidelines.

  16. Dolly says:

    *sigh*…I keep make up around for a verrry long time, it just cost so much..hate to admit that I’ve had some of my stuff for years, I don’t wear eyeshadows,foundation or eyeliner…really just a mascara and lip-gloss girl. I found one of my old favorites (recently moved) in a box of my stuff and I’ve had it for over 6 years…when I googled it(if lip-glosses expire) I saw that everything I read said that lip-glosses don’t expire…I never thought about the bacteria aspect…*shivers*. Diving down into old purses and boxes to throw out my old crap :'(…well on the upside I have an excuse to go makeup shopping now haha.

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