Are you a makeup junkie? Or maybe you’re a minimalist who rarely wears makeup but has it on hand for special occasions. Wherever you fit in the cosmetics lovers chain, you need to know that makeup, even left unopened, goes bad, harbors bacteria and can cause infections and breakouts if it isn’t used within a certain time frame. Didn’t know that there’s such a thing as makeup expiration dates? Don’t worry…we’re going to tell you all about it.
If a product has an makeup expiration date on it, go by that, but remember, that the makeup expiration date is usually only for when the product is unopened. Once you open a cosmetic, the clock starts ticking. Even if you’re super careful about sealing the products, keeping your hands clean at all times when using a product, and storing your makeup in a cool, dark room (which is generally best), the stuff is going to go bad anyway.
Eye makeup especially can wreak havoc if it is old and bacteria-laden. Keeping a tube of old mascara around isn’t worth the potential hazards. And hey, following the makeup expiration date gives you a reason to go through your makeup and dump the old … so you can buy new stuff!
Mascara expiration: Four to six months
This is the one product that goes bad faster than any other cosmetic. Part of the reason is that many users pump the wand in and out of the tube, allowing air into it which than mixes with the chemicals and causes bacteria. Professionals say to toss mascara out after four months, even if you only used it a handful of times.
You can probably get six months of wear from a mascara without any issues if you are careful not to pump the wand and keep the tube tightly closed after every use. Four to six months is such a short time, but better to be safe than sorry.
This stuff is going around your eyes and can flake and get INTO your eyes. More than likely, you will only experience an eye infection (not blindness or anything permanent) but still, protect your peepers. Toss the old mascara out within six months.
You may be itching to try a different mascara once you trash the old ones. Our reviewers suggest CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Blasting Mascara for intense color and volume, Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Washable Mascara for natural looking and feeling lashes and CoverGirl LashExact Mascara for unbeatable length.
Read all of our mascara reviews to find ones that you want to replace your old ones with.
Foundation expiration: 12 to 18 months
This goes for liquid, cream, and stick foundation. If your foundation says it is oil-free or the ingredients don’t have any oils in them, your best bet is to toss your foundation after about 12 months. Oil-based foundation lasts a bit longer, around 18 months. That’s not bad for a bottle of foundation, and most women find that they run out before the makeup expires.
Mineral powder foundation should be closed tightly after each use and stored in a cool place. In theory, this makeup should NEVER spoil because it contains only ingredients that don’t go bad. However, you will see a makeup expiration date on many mineral foundations. Heed that date. If the foundation smells funny or changes color, toss it.
Remember that even though mineral foundation itself generally can’t spoil, you can introduce bacteria into it from your face and the brushes used. Err on the side of caution and toss mineral foundation after a year to 18 months just like the regular stuff.
Don’t go barefaced! Try some of our highest reviewer-rated foundations! Our reviewers love Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Matte SPF 15 Foundation for all natural, light coverage. They go gaga for Clinique Superbalanced Makeup as well as L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup, just to name a few.
Read all of our foundation reviews to find a replacement for your expired foundation. There are some great new formulas on the market!
Concealer expiration: 12 to 18 months
Most concealers hold up pretty well and are gone before they reach the makeup expiration date. However, if you notice that your concealer is drying out, becoming flaky or has a weird scent, throw it out! You don’t want anything that’s going bad on your skin.
There are loads of concealers to try if you don’t want to replace your old one with the same brand. Read all of our concealer reviews and choose one that seems best for your skin type and needs. I absolutely adore Maybelline SuperStay 24 HR Concealer. I just tried it recently and can’t believe how well it conceals and how long it lasts!
Blush expiration: Powder blush is 24 months and cream blush is 12 to 18 months
You’ve got quite a bit of leeway with blush. This is another cosmetic that is usually gone before it reaches the makeup expiration date. Be careful of cream blushes though if you use your fingers to apply. Bacteria will transfer and could make the blush go bad before its time. If cream or liquid blush starts to dry out or smell funny, toss it.
You’re pretty safe with most blushes, unless you stockpile them like I do. To try: Nars Blush in Orgasm, a powder blush that’s a cult favorite. Also, if you like all day flush, pick up some Benefit Benetint Rose-Tinted Lip & Cheek Stain. It will NOT budge all day and night!
Lipstick, lip gloss, lip liner, face powder, eye shadow, eye liner expiration: About 24 months
All of these cosmetics hold up well over time. Keep them well sealed and away from extreme temperatures, and you should get about two years use from them. The exception is cream eyeshadow which usually starts to go bad at about the 12-to-18 month mark.
Again, if the products dry out, change color, or have an odor, no matter how old they are, throw them out. That’s a warning sign that something’s funky with them. Read all of our cosmetics reviews if you’re looking to replace (or add to) some of these products.
Remember that, once a product is opened, it starts to deteriorate. If you tend to have a lot of products on hand, open them, try them, and then move on to something else, you may want to write the date that you opened the product on the label. I have a huge bin of cosmetics, and I have now started writing dates on the products as I open them. That way, when I pull out mascara from 2003, I know to toss it.
Editor’s note: If you have professional experience with beauty products, Viewpoints is recruiting experts in priority product categories to write for our blog. Check out this overview of the Viewpoints Category Expert Program, including qualifications, compensation and how to apply.