If you’re wondering, “does makeup expire?”, your prayers are answered. Just like skincare can expire, so too can makeup. Unfortunately for us, makeup doesn’t last forever. However, since makeup is something we apply to our skin - our largest organ - we definitely shouldn’t use anything past its expiry date!
Is expired makeup bad? Experts suggest avoiding it. Using makeup that’s gone off can lead to many skin issues, such as breakouts, skin irritation, and even eye infections. You won’t question if it’s bad to use expired makeup any more after reading this!
Here are our tips for how and why to check your stash periodically to clear out any expired products for the sake of your skin. Plus, we’ll give you some ideas on what to do with expired makeup!
Why Does Makeup Expire?
If you’ve ever opened a lipstick or concealer that smells a little funky and doesn’t look right, it’s probably expired. But why does makeup go off in the first place? There are three underlying factors that contribute to why makeup expires:
Just like food or medicine, makeup isn’t designed to last forever. Every product is a unique blend of ingredients that can include pigment, fragrance, stabiliser and preservatives to create a final product that you love to use!
However, over time, the efficacy of this formula can break down; for example, stabilisers can eventually stop working, causing a liquid formula to separate and go clumpy. Or, if the formula contains oils - which is common for dewy foundations - the oils could become rancid, spoiling the entire formula.
This is especially true for products such as lipstick, mascara, and liquid concealer - to name a few. Any product where you use the applicator directly on your face and then reinsert it back into the tube is vulnerable to bacteria.
While it’s true that all makeup products are made with preservatives to prevent excessive microbe growth, eventually, these can only do so much and for so long. So if you’re still wondering if expired makeup is safe - no, it most certainly isn’t!
Over time, especially if a product is stored in a warm or humid environment, bacterial accumulation can grow to levels that might change how the product performs and, ultimately, pose a risk to your skin.
I know it sounds like a funny one - but it’s true. Firstly, there’s the obvious: leaving your makeup open to air can dry it out, making it not work as well. Secondly, air can trigger oxidation in makeup formulas, causing formulas to change colours - common with foundations and concealers - and ultimately degrade the formula.
And looping back to microbial growth in makeup, it’s possible that bacteria and fungus can enter products if they’re left open and exposed to air.
How Do You Know If Makeup Is Expired?
So, now we know why makeup expires - but how can you tell if your makeup has gone off? When should you throw out makeup? There are four tell-tale signs I look for:
- Skin Irritation
Changing Makeup Texture
This is the first sign that your makeup is expired. This change is most noticeable in liquid formulas, such as liquid foundation, concealer, lip gloss, or liquid lipstick. It might look lumpy or separated - sure sign you shouldn’t use this makeup product anymore!
You might notice that your powder blush just isn’t as pigmented as it used to be - even though there’s plenty left in the pan. Or, a pencil eyeliner just won’t draw cleanly, no matter how carefully you try to press. Basically, if your makeup is not doing what it has done the last few times you used it, there’s a big sign there that it could be expired!
This can be quite an obvious one, but if something doesn’t smell right about your makeup, you should definitely dispose of it. Luckily, this one is super obvious from the get-go - if it stinks, get rid of it!
Sometimes, makeup doesn’t show any of the above signs of expiry - only that it irritates your skin. This can look like breakouts, or redness and itching. If this happens with any makeup product, you know it has to go! Expired makeup isn’t safe to use for this reason.
Common Makeup Expiry Timelines
Not all makeup expires within the same time frame. Here’s our guide to how long you can expect your makeup to last for before going off! This is a good guide to follow to get an understanding of how long you should be holding onto that mascara or lipstick for before getting rid of it.
Like skincare, most makeup products have a PAO (Period After Opening) date on the packaging to help you understand when makeup expires. It looks like a little jar with a number of months in the middle.
The PAO definitely varies among the different types of makeup - for example, powder makeup can generally last longer than liquid formulas. Each brand will have their own suggestions, so it’s a good idea to follow what’s on the packaging. However, if you’re unsure, don’t worry! Here’s our guide to makeup expiry dates:
Mascara and Liquid Eyeliner
3 to 6 months
These products have a short shelf life because the risk of bacterial contamination is high, especially since they're used near the eyes.
Liquid or Cream: 6 to 12 months
Powder: 1 to 2 years
Signs of expiration include separation of ingredients or a change in texture or smell.
Liquid or Cream: 6 to 12 months
Powders (Blushes, Bronzers, Setting Powders, Eyeshadows)
1 to 2 years
Over time, they may become harder to blend or may become cakey upon application.
Lipsticks and Lip Glosses
Lipstick: 1 to 2 years
Lip Gloss: 6 months to 1 year
Look out for changes in texture, like stickiness or grittiness, or any off smell.
Eyebrow and Eyeliner Pencils:
1 to 2 years
Regular sharpening can help remove bacteria and extend their life.
Cream Blushes, Bronzers, and Eyeshadow
6 to 12 months
6 to 12 months
1 to 2 years
1 to 2 years
Of course, this can vary by brand and PAO as well. One important thing to note is that expiry dates for natural makeup can be shorter than traditional makeup, as fewer preservatives are used and natural ingredients are less shelf-stable.
How to Delay Makeup Expiry
There are a few things that you can do to prevent your makeup from going off as quickly.
The first is to store your makeup in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place. Unfortunately, this means the bathroom is the worst place to store your makeup and skincare!
The constant humidity causes fluctuating temperatures and creates the perfect environment for bacteria to breed in your makeup.
Secondly is to have good makeup hygiene. Don’t dip dirty fingers or brushes into makeup - this introduces bacteria to your makeup!
Risk Of Using Expired Makeup
So, what happens if you use expired makeup? There are a few problems with using expired makeup - no matter how much you love that foundation, there comes a time when you need to let it go and try something new. It’s not worth the effects of using expired beauty products!
Breakouts and Clogged Pores
The number one issue that could happen when using expired makeup is breakouts. Expired makeup is likely to have an overgrowth of bacteria due to failing preservatives and other issues. If you’re struggling with breakouts,
This especially rings true for makeup such as mascara and eyeliner. Eyes are incredibly delicate and prone to infection. When you apply expired mascara to your lashes, you can introduce bacteria that could mean a doctor’s visit.
When makeup is expired, there’s no way to guarantee that it’s safe for your skin anymore. This is why expired products can cause irritation and bad reactions such as swelling, rashes, and visible redness.
What to do With Expired Makeup
If you’ve gone through your collection and found some products that are less than usable, what are you supposed to do with them? Now that you know when you should throw out makeup, this is the next question to answer.
Some brands have take-back programs, where if you bring them a certain amount of empty products, you’re able to redeem a free product!
With others, you may have to take the packaging apart to separate it into recyclable bits.
Explore all of your options for disposing of your expired products to make sure you’re minimally contributing to landfill.
Wrap Up: Is Expired Makeup Safe?
Using makeup that’s past its best-by date could lead you down the road of skin irritation, excessive breakouts, and at worst eye infections. Being able to identify if your makeup needs to go starts with checking: texture, smell, and performance. Makeup products have guidelines for when they should be thrown out by - stick to these to ensure that your makeup and skin looks good!