The expiry date of makeup

I got this email from Mandie the Magnificent a little while ago:

“Vanessa! I have a make-up question and maybe you can answer it on your blog?! How do you know if make-up is past its expiry date and if you can still use it? Sometimes its good for a while after but sometimes it goes bad really early? Is there a way to make it last longer or take care of it properly?”


Well, here are the answers.


How Long Does Makeup Last?

In general, the shelf life of cosmetic products depends on the type of product and how  the product is stored and used.


Most new cosmetics products have a little symbol on the back of the pack that looks like a little jar with a number inside it.  This symbol tells you how many months the product will last after the date it is opened until it expires.  However, not all products have this guide printed on them, so here is a quick run down of the shelf-life of most makeup products.


– Liquid foundation: 12 months.

– Liquid concealer: 12 months

– Powder: 2 years

– Cleansers and other skin-care: 18 months

– Eyeliner and lipliner pencils: 3 years

– Powder eyeshadow and blush: 3 years

– Lipstick: 4 years

– Mascara: 3 months

– Nail Polish: debatable.  Will be fine to use for 12 months, but I believe it is OK much longer than this.  Generally, you will get the best colour and consistency in the first year.

-Cream blush and eyeshadow: 6-12 months

– Liquid eyeliner: 6 months

-Lipgloss: 18.24 months.


Keep in mind that natural makeup products will expire faster than this, as they tend to have fewer preservatives.


Liquid products tend to expire much faster than powders, and any product that is in regular contact with your eyes should be replaced very regularly, so it’s not such a bad thing if you are going through a lot of mascara.


Do I really need to toss out my makeup once it reaches it’s expiry?

In a word, yes.  There are several reasons for this.


Firstly, makeup that is past it’s expiry date can contain all kinds of nasties that you don’t want anywhere near your face.  Makeup is a perfect breeding ground for germs, and if you continue using it after the expiry date, you could be leaving yourself vulnerable to a host of health problems.  Expired eye makeup can cause eye infections.  Lipsticks and glosses that have been left to fester can cause cold sores.  Your foundation and skincare products can cause anything from breakouts to skin rashes.  Also, if you put expired concealer onto a nasty pimple, you run the risk of introducing bacteria into the blemish, which could cause it to become infected.


Secondly, many skincare products contain active ingredients that work to improve the texture and tone of your skin.  Over time, these ingredients break down, and the product is no longer effective.  One of the best examples of this is sunscreen.  After about 12 months, the active ingredients in the sunscreen don’t work as well or at all, so you might be exposing yourself to sunlight thinking that you are protected, when actually you aren’t.


Finally, the composition of your cosmetic products may change over time, which means that they could cause an allergic reaction when you had previously had no problems with the product.


In the interests of your health, it really is quite important to clean out your makeup bag regularly and keep your products up to date.


 How can I tell if my makeup has expired?

If your makeup does not have an expiry date printed on it, or if you can’t remember when you opened it, there are still plenty of ways to tell if your makeup is still safe to use.


Look carefully at the product.  If you notice that the product has changed colour or texture, or if the product has begun to separate, it is probably past it’s expiry.


Give the product a little sniff.  If you notice a rancid smell, or if the smell of a product has changed dramatically over time, you should get rid of it.


Finally, if you notice mould growing on any products, you should bin it immediately.


Is there any way to extend the life of my makeup?

There are plenty of things that you can do to keep your makeup clean and sanitary for longer.

– Clean your makeup brushes regularly with warm water and a gentle anti-bacterial soap.

– Store makeup in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and moisture.

– Regularly sharpen your makeup pencils so that the surface that is coming into contact with your skin remains fresh

– Refrain from using makeup if you have a cold sore or an eye infection, or you run the risk of contaminating your makeup with germs.  If you must use makeup, apply with a cotton applicator and throw it away after each application, and don’t double dip!  If you do use a makeup product directly on a cold sore or eye infection, you should probably throw it away right afterwards.

– Dont share makeup with friends, especially eye makeup.  If you must share, use different brushes to apply it.

– Use makeup brushes, rather than your fingers to apply makeup.  Your fingers house millions and billions of germs, so dipping them into your makeup pots introducts those germs into the product.  Either use brushes, or use something else to get the makeup out of the container and onto your finger.

– If you add water to powder products (as I sometimes do), make sure that you allow the product to dry completely before you put it away.  An even better way to do this is to put a little of the powder into another container before mixing in the water, rather than adding the wayer directly to the pot.

– Never use saliva to dilute your makeup.

– If you have trouble remembering when you bought and opened a new product, write the date on the packet with a permanent marker when you open it.  This means that you will have a clear idea when it needs to be chucked out.

– Buy smaller quantities of makeup and skincare products.  I know it’s cheaper to buy the family-sized bottle of sunscreen, but if you are just one little person, you won’t go through the entire thing in a year.  Buy smaller packages that will need to be replaced more often.


I hope that this has answered your question, Mandie.  If anyone else has a makeup or beauty question that they would like me to answer, feel free to get in touch.

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