Does eyeshadow expire?

Does Eyeshadow Expire? How Long Do Eyeshadows Last?

Digging deep into your makeup collection, you might find an eyeshadow palette that’s been with you through thick and thin. It’s that trusty set of shades you can’t bear to part with, even if it’s been ages since you last used it.

But here’s the thing: just like that yogurt in the back of your fridge, makeup has an expiration date. So, does eyeshadow really expire?

In this post, we’ll unravel the mystery behind those little dates on your makeup products. We’ll dive into the signs that your eyeshadow might be past its prime and share some tips to keep your favorite shades fresh for longer. Ready to give your makeup bag a little spring cleaning? Let’s get started!

Does Eyeshadow Expire?

Yes, eyeshadow does expire. The reason behind this is primarily due to the breakdown of its ingredients. Eyeshadows, like many cosmetics, contain a combination of natural and synthetic components. Over time, these ingredients can degrade, affecting the product’s overall quality and safety.

Additionally, with regular use, eyeshadows are exposed to air, bacteria from our skin, and applicators, which can introduce contaminants. These contaminants can not only alter the product’s performance but also pose potential risks to skin and eye health.

It’s not just about the eyeshadow losing its vibrancy or effectiveness; it’s about ensuring that what you apply to your eyelids remains safe and free from harmful bacteria.

Related: How Long Does Mascara Last and When to Replace It?

How Long Do Eyeshadows Last?

When determining the lifespan of eyeshadows, a crucial symbol to look out for is the PAO (Period After Opening) symbol.

It’s typically represented by an open jar icon with a number and the letter ‘M’ inside, indicating the number of months the product remains good after it’s been opened. For instance, “12M” means the product is safe to use for 12 months after opening.

Period After Opening (POA) icon.

But what about unopened eyeshadows? The good news is that unopened makeup products generally last longer than their opened counterparts. When sealed and stored in a cool, dry place, eyeshadows can remain in good condition for several years.

However, it’s essential to note that even unopened products have a shelf life. Over time, the ingredients can degrade due to factors like temperature changes or exposure to light.

Now, let’s delve into the typical lifespans of various eyeshadow types:

  • Powder Eyeshadows: These are a staple in many makeup collections. Thanks to their dry composition, they can last up to two years once opened. But if you spot any hard layers or changes in texture, it’s time for a replacement.
  • Cream Eyeshadows: With their moist consistency, they’re more prone to bacterial growth. Generally, cream eyeshadows have a shelf life of 12 to 18 months once opened. If you notice them drying out or separating, it’s an indication they’ve gone bad.
  • Liquid Eyeshadows: These tend to have a similar lifespan as cream eyeshadows, lasting about a year once opened. Be wary if the formula begins to separate or emits an off-putting smell.
  • Stick or Pencil Eyeshadows: These can stick around for up to two years once opened. Since they’re often applied directly to the eyes, sharpening them regularly helps maintain their freshness and reduces bacterial transfer.

While these are broad guidelines, always refer to the product’s packaging for specific expiration details. And remember, when in doubt, prioritize your safety and consider replacing any product you think might be expired.

Eyeshadow TypeLifespan (After Opening)Lifespan (Unopened)
Powder EyeshadowsUp to 2 yearsSeveral years with proper storage
Cream Eyeshadows12 to 18 monthsUp to 3 years with proper storage
Liquid EyeshadowsAbout 1 yearUp to 2 years with proper storage
Stick or Pencil EyeshadowsUp to 2 years2 to 3 years with proper storage

Real-Life Experiences: When Does Eyeshadow Actually Expire?

Navigating the world of makeup expiration can be tricky, especially when it comes to eyeshadows. While packaging often provides a guideline, real-life experiences can offer a more nuanced perspective.

It’s worth noting that the Reddit thread we’re referencing was posted 6 years prior to the date of this blog post. While this isn’t a recent discussion, it encapsulates the wisdom of makeup enthusiasts who’ve spent years observing and understanding the longevity and performance of their eyeshadows.

Let’s dive into some insights shared by Redditors on the topic of eyeshadow expiration:

  • Timeless Treasures: One user, VioletVenable, humorously shared that according to her mother, eyeshadows never expire. She even mentioned a compact from 1968 that’s still in her mother’s makeup bag!
  • Powders Are Eternal: SummerNight888 believes that powder products, including eyeshadows, can last indefinitely. They shared that their Naked palettes, which are over 6 years old, still perform as if they were new. The user also mentioned a Lancome blush that’s around 8 years old and still works perfectly. The key takeaway? If there’s no noticeable change in the product, it’s likely still good to use.
  • Oldies but Goodies: d0va13 shared their experience with Urban Decay’s Book Of Shadows 3, which was purchased in 2010. Even after 8 years and a move to another country, the eyeshadows still smelled and performed the same.
  • Powders Don’t Expire: Another user, irissteensma, firmly believes that powder eyeshadows don’t expire. They might develop hard pan, but as long as you haven’t contaminated them, they can last for a very long time.
  • Precautionary Measures: A deleted user emphasized the importance of taking care of eyeshadows to extend their lifespan. They recommended not storing them in humid places like bathrooms, sanitizing them occasionally with isopropyl alcohol, and avoiding dipping wet brushes directly into the pans.
  • Nostalgic Keepsakes: Emmison holds onto an eyeshadow duo that’s 25 years old, mainly for nostalgic reasons. While it doesn’t work as well as it used to, they’re not concerned about germs since it’s a powder formula.
  • Liability and Consumerism: tailoredinblack believes that expiration dates on eyeshadows are more about company liability than actual product degradation. They mentioned having a Physicians Formula eyeshadow from the 90s that still works perfectly.
  • Decades-Old Shadows: eatyrmakeup humorously mentioned having several MAC eyeshadows that are over 22 years old and still work fine.

These insights highlight that while eyeshadows do have a recommended shelf life, many users find that with proper care, they can last much longer than expected. However, always prioritize your safety and trust your senses when evaluating the condition of your makeup products.

How to Tell If Your Eyeshadow Has Expired?

Eyeshadows, whether cream or powder, don’t last forever. Here’s how to decipher if your eyeshadows have passed their prime:

For Powder Eyeshadows

  1. Change in Texture: If your eyeshadow feels dry, chalky, or has developed a hard layer on top (known as “hard pan”), it might be time to bid it farewell.
  2. Fading Colors: When the shades lose their vibrancy or don’t deliver the same color payoff, the pigments might be degrading.
  3. Unusual Smell: A rancid or off-putting odor from a powder eyeshadow is a clear sign of spoilage.
  4. Eye Irritation: Experiencing itching, redness, or discomfort after application? It could be a sign of bacterial contamination.
  5. Visible Mold or Discoloration: Any mold spots or unusual color changes are immediate red flags. Discard the eyeshadow immediately.

For Cream Eyeshadows

  1. Separation: If the creamy formula starts separating, with oils or liquids emerging, it indicates the product is no longer stable.
  2. Change in Consistency: A cream eyeshadow that’s become too thick, dry, or tacky has likely expired.
  3. Unpleasant Odor: Cream products can develop a sour or unusual smell when they go bad.
  4. Eye Irritation: Just like with powder eyeshadows, any form of discomfort post-application is a warning sign.
  5. Mold or Discoloration: Cream eyeshadows, due to their moisture content, can be prone to mold. If you spot any, it’s time to toss the product.

Factors Affecting the Shelf Life of Eyeshadow

While we touched upon some factors affecting eyeshadow’s longevity earlier, it’s essential to delve deeper to truly understand what can influence its shelf life. Eyeshadows, like all cosmetics, are susceptible to various external and internal factors that can either extend or reduce their usability.

Here’s a detailed look at what can impact the lifespan of your favorite eyeshadow:

  1. Storage Conditions: The environment where you store your eyeshadows plays a significant role. Humid or damp conditions can promote bacterial growth, especially in cream-based products. Always store your eyeshadows in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
  2. Application Tools: The tools you use, be it brushes or fingers, can introduce bacteria into the product. Regularly cleaning your brushes and washing your hands before application can help extend the shelf life.
  3. Packaging: Quality packaging can protect the product from air and light exposure, both of which can degrade the eyeshadow’s ingredients. Air-tight containers or palettes with secure closures are ideal.
  4. Ingredient Composition: Natural or organic eyeshadows might have a shorter shelf life compared to those with preservatives. Preservatives help prevent bacterial growth and maintain the product’s integrity for a more extended period.
  5. Frequency of Use: Regularly used eyeshadows might have a shorter lifespan due to the constant exposure to air and potential contamination from application tools.
  6. Product Formulation: As mentioned earlier, cream or liquid eyeshadows are more prone to spoilage than powder ones due to their moisture content. The type of binders, pigments, and fillers used can also influence the product’s stability.
  7. Exposure to Air: Every time you open your eyeshadow, it gets exposed to air. Over time, this can lead to the product drying out, especially if it’s a cream or liquid formula.

Tips to Extend Your Eyeshadow’s Life

Your eyeshadow palette is an investment, both in money and in the looks you can create with it. So, naturally, you’d want it to last as long as possible. Here are some tried-and-true tips to help you get the most out of your eyeshadow:

  1. Clean Your Brushes: Regularly cleaning your eyeshadow brushes not only ensures better application but also prevents the transfer of bacteria to your palette. Aim to clean them at least once a week if you use them daily.
  2. Use a Primer: An eyeshadow primer creates a barrier between your skin’s oils and the eyeshadow, helping the product adhere better and reducing the chance of it breaking down quickly.
  3. Avoid Direct Sunlight: Store your eyeshadows in a cool, dark place. Direct sunlight can degrade the pigments and reduce the product’s overall lifespan.
  4. Tighten the Lid: Always ensure that the eyeshadow’s lid or the palette is closed tightly after use. This prevents air from getting in, which can dry out certain formulas.
  5. Use Clean Fingers: If you prefer applying eyeshadow with your fingers, ensure they’re clean. This reduces the chance of introducing bacteria or oils into the product.
  6. Avoid Sharing: As fun as makeup sessions with friends can be, avoid sharing your eyeshadows. Everyone has different skin bacteria, and sharing can introduce new strains to your makeup.
  7. Sanitize Your Products: Every once in a while, especially if you’ve had a cold or eye infection, lightly spritz your eyeshadows with a makeup sanitizer or isopropyl alcohol. Let it air dry before closing the palette.
  8. Avoid Storing in Bathrooms: The humidity and temperature fluctuations in bathrooms can compromise the quality of your eyeshadows. Instead, store them in a bedroom or designated makeup area.
  • Check for Changes: Regularly inspect your eyeshadows for any changes in texture, smell, or color. If you notice anything off, it might be time to replace them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating the world of eyeshadow expiration can be filled with uncertainties. Let’s clear up some common queries:

Is it OK to use expired eyeshadow?

While it might not be harmful initially, using expired eyeshadow can lead to skin irritations or infections, especially if there are noticeable changes in the product.

Can you use eyeshadow after 5 years?

It depends on the type and storage conditions. Powder eyeshadows stored properly might still be usable, but it’s always best to check for any changes in texture, smell, or performance.

How do you know if eyeshadow is expired?

Signs include changes in texture, an off-putting smell, reduced pigmentation, or any skin irritation upon application.

When should you throw away eyeshadow?

It’s time to toss your eyeshadow if it shows signs of expiration, has been exposed to bacteria (like after an eye infection), or if it’s past the recommended shelf life.

Does unused eyeshadow expire?

Yes, even if unopened, eyeshadows have a shelf life. However, unopened products typically last longer than their opened counterparts due to reduced exposure to bacteria and air.


Your eyes are one of your most expressive features. Understanding “Does Eyeshadow Expire?” and using fresh, high-quality eyeshadows not only enhances your beauty but also ensures your eyes stay healthy. Remember to check your makeup stash regularly and keep an eye (pun intended!) on those expiration dates. Stay beautiful and safe!

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