Expired Makeup: How to Tell If Your Makeup Is Passed Its Shelf Life

When it comes to applying makeup, you may not check whether the product is expired or not. Importantly, using expired makeup can be really damaging to the skin so it’s essential that you know.

Read on to help us make you familiar with the shelf life of different types of makeup items and their importance. We’ll also reveal the tell-tale signs that it is time to throw away your expired cosmetics.

an array of makeup, foundation, lipsticks and eyeshadows.

What Happens to Expired Makeup?

Makeup can be expensive, so you might find it hard to throw away products you spent a lot of money on, especially if you didn’t get as much use out of them as you wanted.

But did you know that using a makeup formula that has passed its expiration date can actually wreak havoc on your skin? Caring about the shelf life of makeup products is wise, especially when they are your much-treasured items. We hate to tell you this, but even the product that seems to be ‘absolutely fine’ after the expiration date can also cause major damages to your skin, eyes, and lips. Furthermore, wearing expired makeup is not only gross but also pretty unsafe.

No matter how strict you are about makeup hygiene, you cannot prevent your favourite palettes, liners, etc. from going bad due to contamination. So, the biggest question is, how will you know if your cosmetics are past their prime? Just keep up with the expiration dates and be aware of the tell-tale signs that it is time to ditch them.

broken expired makeup.

Suggested Article: Here’s How Stress Affects Your Skin and How to Reduce the Effects of It.

Why You Should Not Use Expired Makeup

The effects of using makeup beyond its shelf life are actually worse than you think. It is, therefore, critical to have an out-and-out view of the situation in order to understand the scary realities of how expired cosmetics can impact your skin upon continuous usage.

So, here is what happens to the product formula when it expires and what really happens to your face when you use it.

Expired Makeup Loses Its Potency

Expired cosmetics do not remain as smooth and effective as they were when fresh. The very first thing that changes over time is the consistency of the product.

Whether it is your budget foundation or expensive mascara, it will dry out and turn streaky or clumpy, leading to an uneven application. And as it stops applying the way it used to, it also stops working the way it used to.

Above all, the strength of the active ingredients gets reduced significantly. This results in a compromised efficiency of the product.

various powder shades with makeup brushes.

Expired Makeup becomes decomposed

As the time to replace your old and expired makeup gets closer, it starts to decompose. That’s where the real danger lies.

The chemicals in the product separate followed by a molecular breakdown, which makes the skin susceptible to adverse reactions. The most common issues individuals experience in the response to makeup decomposition includes irritation, inflammation, and mild burns. You can even end up suffering from a more severe form of inflammation called contact dermatitisThis usually causes redness, swelling, rashes, bumps, and even blisters.

Expired Makeup Harbours Bacteria

You could actually be inviting serious skin infections onto your face by wearing your cosmetics, even when they have passed their expiration dates.

Since such compositions degrade automatically, no hygiene measures work for them. As a result, they become vulnerable to contamination and turn into the perfect breeding ground for menacing bacteria. Whilst in the early stages, this causes nothing more than breakouts and acne-like bumps, the bacteria build-ups will eventually lead to skin infections.

It can turn out to be even riskier due to the infections caused by the herpes virus, which cannot be reversed easily just by replacing your makeup products.

cosmetics eyeshadow and lipstick tube, possibly expired.

Suggested Article: Sustainable Beauty: How to Recycle Your Beauty Products.

How Often Should You Replace Your Makeup?

What expired makeup can cause on your skin doesn’t sound good at all, right? Clearly, the purpose of makeup expiration dates is quite bigger than just indicating that the products have lost their efficacy.

Typically, the shelf life of a product depends upon multiple factors including the type of packaging, the time of unsealing, and the way of storing. Importantly, there is an average expiration date for each item, which gives us a general idea about how long it will last and when to replace it.  

Facial Makeup


Liquid and cream foundations are more prone to contamination and hence, you need to replace them every 3 to 6 months. You can hold onto your powder foundation for 1-2 years though.  

Suggested Article: Find the Perfect Foundation for your Skin Undertone.


If you do not change your concealer every 2 years, it will end up worsening the breakouts and other imperfections on your skin that you are trying to camouflage.


A powder blush lasts for a year or two, however, you should replace your cream or gel-based formula every 6 months.

blush in a pink container on a window ledge

Suggested Article: The Best Blush For Your Skin Tone And Face Shape.


The texture of powder helps it to avoid contamination too easily, but nonetheless it is wise to replace an old product every 1 to 2 years.

Eye Makeup

Eyebrow Pencil

Your eyebrow pencil will last for 6 months to 1 year (sometimes even less).

Suggested Article: Tint your Eyebrows Naturally at Home Using Coffee and Chocolate.

Eye Shadow

Powder eyeshadows can stay safe for up to a couple of years but don’t expect the cream ones to last for more than 6 months.


It is hard for liquid eyeliners to serve for more than 4-6 months. However, thankfully, pencil products will last easily for around 2 years.  

Suggested Article: 20 Best Drugstore Liquid Eyeliners That Will Give You the Perfect Wing.


It is essential that you replace your mascara every 3 months.

mascara on a wooden palette.

Lip Products

Lip Liner

A well-maintained lip liner can last anywhere between 6 months and 2 years.


When you follow the hygiene standards religiously, your coveted lipstick can last from 1 to 2 years.

Lip Gloss

Make sure that you do not use the same lip gloss for more than a year.

How to tell if Your Makeup is passed its Shelf Life

Wondering how to remember the shelf life of dozens of makeup products?  Fortunately, there are plenty of indicative signs that show if your cosmetics are too old to be applied safely. We’ve got you covered with a handy cheat sheet that will help you declutter your makeup closet efficiently!

Read the Labels

Most cosmetics come with a PAO (Period after Opening) symbol right on the back of their packaging. It tells you the number of months for which a product can be used once you have opened the package. Needless to say, you are supposed to toss it out after that specific time.

period after opening symbols, wise to prevent items becoming expired before their time.
Period after Opening symbols.

Notice the Colour

Any makeup that looks more and more off due to change in shade is probably experiencing bacterial growthHence, if a product has oxidized to a slightly different colour of late, get ready to replace it.

Check the Texture

Cosmetics, irrespective of the formula, can lose their original texture

When the cream product dries up or a liquid product gets clumpy, be wary of bacterial infections. Similarly, if your powder product develops a grey, chalky film over it or the pencil product gets white spots on its tip, it is time to part ways with them. 

Tip: You should also consider your liquid foundation unhealthy when it looks separated and does not blend back together even after a good shake.

Smell the Product

When in doubt, take a whiff of the product. If it is already out-of-date and has undergone contamination, it will smell stale or foul rather than fresh. Simply throw your makeup away if it smells like chemical or gasoline.

A woman smelling a beauty product, ensuring it has not expired.

How to Make Your Makeup Last Longer

Finally, here is the good news! You can actually make your makeup last longer than its usual shelf life and get the most out of it. All you need to do is follow some storage and sanitation tips & tricks and you will never have to stress over tossing your favourites before their time is up again.

Store Makeup in Cool, Dark Places

Store your makeup in a much-controlled environment. Do not let heat and humidity ruin the items too fast. You can do this by either keep them in cabinets to avoid sun exposure or store them in the refrigerator, especially if it is too hot outside.

Keep the Lids Tightly Closed

Ensure that you close the lids of your makeup products tightly when you are not using them. If a product is left open in the air for long, the formula will get oxidized and you will have to discard it.

Replace Fingers with Sponges

Stop dipping your fingers into your makeup as it transfers the bacteria from your hand to the product. Instead, make use of a cosmetic sponge that will reduce the chances of contamination to a great extent.

Sanitise Your Makeup Tools

Do not forget to clean and sanitise your makeup applicators regularly. This is crucial!

array of makeup brushes next to bottles of makeup.

Don’t Share your Makeup

Say no to makeup sharing! The more you will share it, the faster you will have to replace it.

By knowing these tell-tale signs, learning when to break up with your expired makeup and noting how you should be taking care of your products, your beauty product collections’ only way is up!

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