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Does Makeup Expire?

One of the most fascinating things I have seen in my career as a makeup artist is the production process of makeup.  It reminded me of a large-scale kitchen.  The factory had huge bowls where ingredients were mixed and blended to create the perfect concoction.  It also had large pans that looked like cookie sheets where products that were almost finished were set to dry.  There were rooms for testing and development.   As I watched, it made complete sense to me why makeup expired.  Real ingredients were used in the products that would ultimately go bad.

makeup factory

Makeup Shelf Life

Every product that a cosmetics company produces has a shelf life.  An average shelf life is usually two to three years, and it is marked on the product with a batch code.  If you look at your makeup products, you will probably find some of these codes.  You can even email the cosmetic company to determine when the shelf life ends.

makeup shelf life

Period of Use

The period of use is different than the shelf life.  This means that there is a certain time limit that you have to use the product once you open it. So, just because your mascara has a shelf life of three years does NOT mean that you can use it for three years.  More than likely, it’s period of use is around six months.

makeup expiration dates

batch code: 0L1 period of use: 24M

When to Throw Away Your Makeup and Get New

Most of the time, your makeup goes bad before you run out.

  • Mascara.  Since you take the brush in and out of the tube so often, you expose the product to bacteria.  If you keep it for longer than a few months, it is time to get a new tube.  This is especially true if it starts to smell weird.
  • Liquid Foundations. It is a good idea to replace your liquid foundation approximately once a year.  Once you open them, bacteria can begin to build up.  To make them last longer, try to keep them in a drier environment.  If they start to smell weird or the consistency changes, it is definitely time to get a new bottle.
  • Concealer. If your concealer starts causing blemishes or the color changes, get a new one.  Liquids generally last about a year.  However, the stick concealers can last up to two years.
  • Eyeliners. Try to replace these every six months because they come in close contact with your eye area.  Pencils that sharpen usually have a longer lifespan.  You will notice if an irritation develops because your eyes will feel irritated.
  • Lipstick or Lipgloss. Try to replace these after a year – especially if they start to smell.
  • Powders. These can last two plus years.  Sometimes water or bacteria can get into them if you use a sponge to apply the product.  When this happens, the product might get old sooner.  Your skin will probably develop an irritation if you don’t get a new product.
  • Creams.  The average cream product lasts about a year.  Usually you can tell when it goes bad because it starts to smell or change consistency.

expired makeup

Extending the Life of a Product

Since I have so much makeup that I don’t want to part with, I tend to keep products longer than normal. I try to recognize the warning signs for when a product has gone bad and I also look for ways to keep them in good condition longer.  I love to wipe the top layer off my powders and gels every few months.  I also try to keep my makeup in air tight containers so they are not exposed to as much humidity. Finally, don’t open a product until you need to.  This is very tempting for many people – especially me!  I’m sure you want to play with the product the second you get it, but you might not use it for a few months.  It is much better to leave it alone until you really need it.




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