Can Makeup Expire If Not Used?

We know you adore that gorgeous pink lipstick or the eyeliner that’s been sharpened to the point of a nub.

There comes a time when you have to let go and face the fact that your favorite makeup product may someday become bacterial breeding grounds.

What is the initial course of action?

Examine the label for an expiration date.

Even if you can’t discover an expiration date or the product appears OK when it’s officially out of date.

There are a few important ways that specialists can assess a beauty product and determine whether it’s still advisable, functional, and safe to use.

Here are some tips that you should be wary about.

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Can Makeup Expire If Not Used?

When Do Makeup Expire?

In an ideal world, all cosmetic products would be branded with a “sell-by” date and instructions on how long they should be used after opening.

Unfortunately, we aren’t there yet, and with so many different products and formulations, defining a certain shelf life isn’t always easy.

Expiration dates in cosmetics are complicated because they are entirely dependent on the product.

When in doubt, look around the container with a number printed on it (it represents the number of months to use once open).

“That’s always a safe indicator for when something needs to be tossed,” said Tomlinson Management Group makeup artist Austin Evans.

Keep in mind that some product formulations last longer than others. “In general, liquids and lotions expire the quickest, but powders stay far longer,” Evans explained.

“The more wet a product is (for example, mascara or liquid eyeliner), the easier it is for bacteria to thrive. Your eye shadows, on the other hand, can last a long time.


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About Makeup Expiration Dates


Mascara has the shortest shelf life – you should discard yours every three months. Two to four months is likewise okay, depending on the frequency of use.

Mascara dries out faster than other cosmetics, and because it is an eye product, it is also more prone to cause infections if used for an extended period of time.

You may be introducing little amounts of moisture into the tube because there is wetness near your eye.

Tasha Brown, a beauty artist at Exclusive Artists Management, remarked, “Dry and over-clumpy mascara is beyond its prime.”


Although eyeliner lasts longer than mascara, it nevertheless has a rather short shelf life.

The effectiveness of eyeliner varies depending on the brand and type. If it’s liquid, it’ll probably last three to six months; if it’s a pencil, it’ll probably last six to twelve months.

“A decent rule of thumb is to look for smell and visible dryness” Exclusive Artists Management represents Lydia Sellers, a makeup and hair artist.

So, when should you throw away your eyeliner?

When the wax hardens, the eyeliner will no longer glide, so discard it.

Eye Shadow

Eye shadow is your best bet if you want to invest in an eye product that will last more than a few months.

Due to their dry nature, powder items such as eyeshadow and blush have a longer shelf life.

However, this does not rule out the possibility of microbial development. To decrease the possibility of introducing microorganisms, use clean applicators. Kelly Dobos, a cosmetic chemist, agreed.

Clean applicators and brushes can help your products last longer.

Lip Products

Lip products, such as lipstick, lip gloss, and lip liner, often have a one-year shelf life. However there is no universal expiration date.

“The shelf life of these formulas is determined by the exact components and preservatives used. The variety of formulations has grown and varied, making broad suggestions more difficult.” Dobos stated.

Foundation and Concealer

Foundations and concealers can also last six months to a year.

“Keep your fingertips away from the neck of the bottle for a longer shelf life and to avoid oil separation,” Sellers advised.


Grungy beauty is making a comeback this fall, but your makeup brush should not be included.

Good brushes can last for years if properly cleaned and preserved, but when the bristles fray or fall out, it’s time for a new pair.

Dubroff recommends washing them down with a dry paper towel or washcloth after each usage, and giving them a thorough cleaning every two weeks with a light hair shampoo.

The easiest way to store them is upright in a glass, where they can air out and are not squashed or misshapen.

Cheap makeup sponges should be replaced after two uses—one side, then the other.

The exceptions, according to Dubroff, are “high-quality ones that come with a cleanser, such as the Beauty Blender, which clean out effectively.”

Not only will old, porous sponges absorb too much makeup, but they will also become “little bacteria pits” if left lying around, she says.

Nail Polish

It’s like the Twinkie of the beauty world: it won’t go bad due to bacteria.

Lacquer, on the other hand, dries up and becomes thick and clumpy, with the colors dropping to the bottom of the bottle.

If the formula remains separated after shaking, it’s time to give it up.

Repeated Use of Expired Makeups

For one thing, continuously putting your fingers in an old liquid foundation increases the probability of bacterial growth and so, breakouts and infections.

According to Bartlett, “using old eyeliners may irritate the sensitive eye area, causing it to become puffy, red, and swollen.”

Expired powders can irritate your skin, causing little red lumps that resemble acne.”

Foundation and mascara are two items that should be discarded right away. When both of these products are opened, they are exposed to air, allowing bacteria to enter the container.

As the makeup becomes ‘aged,’ more bacteria and air are introduced. This may increase your chances of infection or discomfort.

Our Thoughts

It’s not uncommon to use the same cosmetics for years, especially if it’s something like blush or eyeliner that you just use a tiny amount of each time.

However, in order to avoid diseases and skin irritation, you should adhere to all makeup expiration dates.

Expired items will also perform poorly.

Look for the PAO sign stamped on the goods or its packaging to find the expiration date, which will tell you how many months you have until it expires.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is expired makeup bad for your skin?

Your expired makeup can also start to harbor bacteria. When it comes to your skin, this can mean irritation and bumps that look like acne.

And when it comes to your eyes, this bacteria buildup can actually cause infections and pink eyes, says King. As for lipstick, using an expired one can cause swelling.

How long does makeup last opened?

Products like foundation, primer, blush, and eyeshadow can last for up to two years.

Lipstick is typically good for one year after you’ve opened it.

Eye makeup like mascara and liquid eyeliner should be replaced every three months.

How do you dispose of old makeup?

Toss it in the garbage. Just make sure the product is sealed if there’s anything left inside. You could also consider donating it to a friend. Some women’s shelters will also gladly take your unwanted makeup.

Can you use expired unopened skin care products?

Yes, according to the FDA you could safely use expired but unopened beauty products long after reaching their expiration date, if they have been stored properly and appear to be in ideal condition, as expiration dates are mere “rules of thumb”.

Is it bad to use old eyeshadow?

Anything used around the eyes can cause irritation if it gets too old. Foundation can grow germs. Blush won’t expire for a while, but it might get crumbly and difficult to apply.

By now, we probably know one of the rules of makeup is to not use anything past its expiration date.

Monica, who thinks most bios are pretty boring, wants to live in a world where dragons exist so she can feel she is Daenerys Targaryen.