How long does makeup last?

How Long Does Makeup Last? A Guide to Cosmetic Shelf Life

Hey there, beauty aficionado! Ever come across that old eyeshadow palette or lipstick shade buried deep in your makeup stash and wondered, “Is this still good to use?”

It’s a common question we all grapple with. After all, makeup isn’t exactly cheap, and throwing away barely used products can feel like a waste. But here’s the hard truth – makeup does expire.

But how can you tell, and what does this mean for your skincare routine? Buckle up, as we’re about to explore the world of makeup expiration.

How Long Does Makeup Last

These are general guidelines and the lifespan of a product can also depend on its quality, the way it’s stored, and how often it’s used.

Always check for signs of expiration as discussed in the blog post.

Makeup TypeApproximate Shelf Life
Mascara3-6 months
Liquid Foundation1 year
Powder Foundation1-2 years
Liquid Concealer1 year
Powder Concealer2 years
Liquid Eyeliner3-6 months
Pencil Eyeliner1 year
Liquid Blush1 year
Powder Blush2 years
Cream Blush1 year
Liquid Highlighter1 year
Powder Highlighter2 years
Lipstick1-2 years
Lip Liner1-3 years
Lip Gloss1-2 years
Brow Pencil1 year
Powder Eyeshadow2 years
Cream Eyeshadow1 year
Nail Polish1-2 years
Fragrance1-3 years

Understanding Makeup Expiry

Does makeup expire? You bet it does.

It might not be as obvious as the milk going sour in your fridge, but over time, your makeup products lose their effectiveness and can even become harmful.

Just like food, makeup products have preservatives that fight off bacteria and mold. But over time, these preservatives break down, leaving your products vulnerable to microbial growth. Now that’s a skin horror story waiting to happen!

But it’s not all doom and gloom. By understanding product expiry and paying attention to the signs, you can ensure your makeup routine stays fresh and your skin, happy.

When to Throw Away Your Makeup

Knowing when to toss your makeup products can be tricky. After all, they don’t come with a visible expiry date like a carton of milk.

But with a little bit of knowledge and observation, you can make informed decisions about when to part ways with your favorite lipstick or foundation.

Specifics for Face Products: Foundation, Liquid Highlight, Concealer

Let’s start with face products.

Foundations, whether they’re liquid or powder, usually last around a year. But if you notice your foundation has changed color, developed a strange smell, or isn’t blending as well as it used to, it might be time to say goodbye. The same goes for your concealer.

Liquid highlighters and blushes can also start to go off after a year. Keep an eye out for any changes in consistency. If your liquid products start to separate or develop a strange smell, it’s time to toss them.

Lips: The Lifespan of Lipstick, Liner, and Gloss

Lip products tend to last a bit longer. Lipsticks and lip glosses have a lifespan of around one to two years.

But if you notice your lipstick getting dry and hard to apply, or your lip gloss getting gloopy and sticky, it’s probably past its prime.

Lip liners can last up to three years since sharpening them regularly keeps them fresh.

Related: Does Lipstick Expire? How Long Does Lipstick Last?

Eye Makeup: From Brow Pencils to Eye Shadows

Moving on to eye makeup. Your mascara has the shortest shelf life and should be replaced every three to six months.

If you notice your mascara starting to dry out or flake more than usual, or if it develops a strange smell, it’s time for a new tube.

Eyeliners and brow pencils can last up to a year, but it’s essential to sharpen them regularly to keep them fresh. If they start to crumble or pull on your skin, they’re likely dried out and should be replaced.

Eyeshadows, whether powder or cream, have a pretty decent shelf life and can last up to two years. But if you notice any changes in color, texture, or smell, it’s time to invest in a new palette.

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

Other Cosmetics: Fragrance and Nail Polish

What about your favorite perfume or nail polish? Perfumes can last between one to three years, depending on their concentration.

If your fragrance starts to change color or smell differently, it’s likely expired.

Nail polishes can last up to two years, but if they become thick, streaky, or start to separate, even after shaking, it’s time for a new bottle.

Related: Does Nail Polish Expire? Find Out When to Toss Yours

Understanding Makeup Expiry

Unopened makeup products can last longer than opened ones. Exposure to air and bacteria from our skin can speed up the degradation process of makeup.

If you’re storing your makeup in a cool, dry place, unopened products can last anywhere from two to three years.

However, expiration dates on makeup products aren’t as strict as those on food items. They’re more of a general guideline.

For instance, the little open jar icon on your product (known as the Period After Opening, or PAO symbol) with a number followed by an ‘M’ (like 6M or 12M) tells you how many months the product will last once it’s opened.

How Do You Know If Makeup is Expired?

So, how can you tell when it’s time to retire your favorite blush or lipstick? There are a few telltale signs to watch for:

  1. Change in Texture: If your creamy lipstick is now dry and difficult to apply or your silky foundation is clumpy, it’s likely expired.
  2. Change in Color: Over time, the color of your makeup can change. If your once vibrant eyeshadow looks faded, it’s time to replace it.
  3. Smell: Makeup usually doesn’t have a strong smell. If you notice a strange or foul odor coming from your product, it’s a sign that it’s expired.
  4. Performance: When your mascara starts to dry out and flake, or your eyeshadow isn’t as pigmented as it once was, they’re likely past their best.
  5. Irritation: If using a product leads to redness, itching, or other types of skin irritation, stop using it. This is a clear sign that something’s not right.

Prolonging Your Makeup’s Lifespan

Although makeup expiry is inevitable, there are a few ways to prolong your makeup’s lifespan and keep it in the best condition possible.

First up, storage. Keep your makeup in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight.

The bathroom might be a convenient place for your makeup, but the heat and humidity can speed up the degradation process and encourage bacterial growth. Your bedroom or a dedicated makeup storage unit might be a better option.

Next, make sure your hands are clean before dipping into your products. Bacteria from your fingers can contaminate your makeup and shorten its lifespan.

Better yet, use clean brushes or applicators to apply your makeup and clean them regularly.

If you’re using mascara, avoid pumping the wand. This can trap air and bacteria inside the tube, making your mascara dry out faster. Instead, swirl the wand inside to get more product.

Finally, avoid sharing makeup. Yes, it’s fun to try your friend’s new gloss or foundation, but sharing makeup can spread bacteria and infections.

Additional Tips to Prolong Your Makeup Life and Quality

Mascara Maintenance

To keep your mascara fresh, avoid the tempting ‘pump’ action with the wand. This action pushes air into the tube, accelerating the drying process.

Instead, slowly and gently twist the wand inside the tube to coat it with the product.

Foundation Maintenance

Whether you’re using a liquid or powder foundation, always ensure that your application tools and hands are clean.

This reduces the transfer of oils and bacteria, which can compromise the quality of the product. For liquid foundation, consider using a small spatula to dispense the product, rather than your fingers.

Concealer Maintenance

Like foundation, cleanliness is crucial for concealer. Again, avoid dipping your fingers directly into the product, especially for pot concealers.

Use clean brushes or a spatula and always ensure to secure the lid tightly after use.

Eyeliner Maintenance

Sharpen your pencil eyeliners regularly to keep them fresh and clean. As for liquid eyeliners, avoid ‘pumping’ the applicator in the tube.

Remember to secure the cap tightly after each use to prevent drying.

Blush Maintenance

For powder blush, clean your blush brush regularly to prevent the buildup of oils and old product. For cream blush, use a clean sponge or brush for application and make sure the lid is tightly sealed after use.

Highlighter Maintenance

Same as blush, keep your brushes clean. For liquid highlighters, avoid direct skin contact with the dispenser to reduce the risk of contamination.

Lipstick, Liner, and Gloss Maintenance

Make sure your lips are clean and free from any other product before application. For lip liners, regularly sharpen them for a fresh tip.

As for lipsticks and glosses, wipe off the top layer with a tissue every so often to keep them fresh.

Eyeshadow Maintenance

Clean your brushes regularly and try to avoid using your fingers for application, unless it’s a cream formula, in which case, ensure your fingers are clean.

Nail Polish Maintenance

To extend the life of your nail polish, store them in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving them in hot or sunny locations as this can change the consistency.

Remember to clean the neck of the bottle before closing it to ensure a tight seal.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to make the most out of your makeup products while ensuring they’re safe and effective for your skin.

How to Determine If Your Makeup Has Expired

If you’re unsure whether your makeup has expired, there are a few steps you can take to determine its condition:

  1. Visual Check: Look for changes in color and texture. If your product looks different from when you first bought it, it’s likely expired.
  2. Smell Test: Give your product a sniff. If it has a weird or foul smell, it’s time to toss it.
  3. Performance Check: Try using the product. If it doesn’t perform as well as it used to, it’s probably past its prime.
  4. Sensitivity Test: If you notice any skin irritation or reaction after using a product, stop using it immediately. It might have expired or become contaminated.

Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re in doubt, throw it out!

FAQs How Long Does Make Last

Here are some frequently asked questions about makeup expiry:

What happens if you use expired makeup?

Using expired makeup can cause skin irritations, rashes, allergic reactions, and even infections. So it’s best to avoid it.

Is it okay to use expired unopened makeup?

Unopened makeup has a longer shelf life than opened makeup. However, it still has an expiry date. If the makeup is a few years past its expiration date, it’s probably best to toss it.

Why should you throw away old makeup?

Old makeup can harbor bacteria and fungus, which can lead to skin problems. Plus, its performance will likely not be as good as when it was fresh.

How long does it take for makeup to go bad?

The lifespan of makeup can vary greatly depending on the type of product, the ingredients it contains, how it’s stored, and how often it’s used. Here’s a general guideline:

  • Mascara and liquid eyeliner: 3 to 6 months
  • Liquid foundation and concealer: 1 year
  • Cream blush and eyeshadow: 1 year
  • Powder-based products (e.g., blush, bronzer, and eyeshadow): 1-2 years
  • Lipstick and lip gloss: 1-2 years
  • Pencil eyeliner and lip liner: Up to 2 years

When should you throw away makeup?

You should throw away your makeup:

  • If it’s past its expiration date (if provided).
  • If it looks or smells different from when you bought it.
  • If you notice any changes in texture or performance.
  • If you’ve had an eye infection (in this case, you should discard all eye makeup).
  • If it’s a mascara or liquid eyeliner that’s been open for more than 3-6 months.
  • If it’s a liquid or cream product that’s been open for more than a year.

How often should you get new makeup?

How often you should get new makeup depends on what type of product it is, how often you use it, and how well you take care of it.

As a rule, you should replace your mascara and liquid eyeliner every 3-6 months.

Liquid and cream products like foundation, concealer, cream blush, and cream eyeshadow should generally be replaced every year.

Powder-based products and lip products can typically last 1-2 years.

However, always check for signs of expiration and replace any product if you notice changes in smell, color, texture, or performance.

Remember, replacing your makeup regularly is not only good for performance but also crucial for maintaining healthy skin.


Knowing when to toss your old makeup might seem like a chore, but it’s an essential part of a healthy beauty routine.

Not only will it help keep your skin in top condition, but it also ensures your makeup looks its best.

So next time you stumble upon that forgotten eyeshadow palette or lipstick, give it a quick check. Your skin will thank you, and hey, it’s a perfect excuse to update your makeup collection, right?

Stay gorgeous, and keep that makeup fresh!

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