When Does Makeup Expire?

Updated on March 23, 2018
Jayne Lancer profile image

A beauty consultant by profession, Jayne has been advising on correct skin and hair care, makeup, and other cosmetics for almost 20 years.

Although makeup is perishable, cosmetic manufacturers are not legally obliged to display expiry dates on product packaging. Here’s a guide to how long you can expect makeup to last, including an easy to use reference chart.

Source

The PAO Symbol

Cosmetic manufacturers are not legally bound to specify expiry dates on product packaging.

If any such information is included, it’s voluntary and usually takes the form of a PAO (Period After Opening) symbol. This depicts a jar with its lid off and a number followed by the letter "M" (see illustration below), which indicates how long a product can be used after opening (e.g., 6M means six months, and 24M two years). When you open a product, always mark it with either the current date, or the month and year it is due to expire.

Expired makeup is ineffective at best and poisonous at worst. If contaminated by bacteria, which can obviously happen before its expected expiry date, it’s likely to cause infections and breakouts.

Handling and Storing Makeup

Hygiene and correct storage are key factors to prolonging the usability of makeup and other cosmetics.

Handling

Before applying with your fingers, wash your hands to avoid transferring germs to the product, and always keep application tools clean.

Storage

The bathroom may be the most convenient place to keep makeup, but its warm, often steamy and moist atmosphere can turn it into an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Dampness is particularly damaging to powder products.

Keep makeup in a dry place away from direct sunlight, and seal containers tightly after each use.

A PAO symbol. In this case, the product is due to expire two years after opening.
A PAO symbol. In this case, the product is due to expire two years after opening. | Source

How Long Does Makeup Keep?

The following is a guide to how long you can expect makeup to last, and how to tell if a product is no longer usable. You'll also find a few practical tips on prolonging the life of your makeup.

Cream and Liquid Foundation, Tinted Moisturizer, and Alphabet Creams

Cream and liquid foundations keep for between one and two years. Tinted moisturizers and alphabet creams (BB, CC, and DD) may last only about six to eight months.

Dispose of foundation products when you notice a change in color and/or smell.

If the product is packaged in a jar or pot, don't dip your fingers in. Instead, use a cosmetic spatula and deposit the amount needed for one application on the back of your hand, which serves as a palette from which to pick up. In case you overestimate how much product you need, discard the remainder—never put it back in the container.

Compact Foundation, Concealer, and Cream Blush

Compact foundation, concealer, and cream blush can last for up to two years. A change in color indicates that the product is no longer good.

Powder Makeup

You can expect powder products like face powder (loose and pressed), blush, and eye shadow to last about two years, depending on how well they are stored.

Pressed powder products, whether blush, eye shadow, bronzer, or face powder, often develop a hard, shiny surface that makes them unusable. This is known as "hard pan" and is caused by an oily film deposited by applicators, brushes, and puffs that have collected fat from the skin. To remove hard pan, press a piece of packing or duct tape firmly over the product, then carefully peel it off. This should lift away the film, making your product usable again.

Loose powders tend to clump for the same reason. To prevent this, never apply straight from the container. Instead, sprinkle the amount you need for one application on a cosmetic tissue from which you can pick up.

You can expect powder products like face powder (loose or pressed), blush, and eye shadow to last about two years.
You can expect powder products like face powder (loose or pressed), blush, and eye shadow to last about two years. | Source

Lipstick

On average, lipsticks keep for about two years depending on oil content. Because matte lipsticks contain the least oil, they tend to last longer.

Throw away lipstick the moment you notice a rancid smell and taste.

Lip Gloss

Lip gloss lasts for up to eighteen months. Get rid of it when its texture thickens and it starts to smell and taste rancid.

Mascara and Gel and Liquid Eyeliner

The most perishable of all cosmetics are mascara and gel and liquid eyeliner. You can expect these to last for three to six months.

If you notice a change in smell and texture, and/or lumpiness, the product has gone off.

Mascara dries out more quickly if you pump the wand before applying. It’s better to just twist it a little in its tube.

If you develop an eye infection, your mascara and eyeliner could be contaminated with bacteria—throw away at once.

Kohl, Eyeliner, Lip Liner, and Eyebrow Pencils

Most pencils keep for up to three years, although real kohl can last a lifetime.

A white discoloration doesn’t necessarily mean an eyebrow pencil or eyeliner has gone off; it’s usually just a harmless salt residue that’s found its way to the surface. Remove it by sharpening the pencil. If this doesn't help, it could be something less auspicious and should be discarded.

But regardless of how a pencil looks, you should always sharpen before each use, since the eye and mouth areas are particularly prone to infection.

Before showing signs of going off, pencil products tend to crumble, which makes them unusable.

To prolong the life of cosmetics and protect yourself from infection, keep application tools clean and free of bacteria.
To prolong the life of cosmetics and protect yourself from infection, keep application tools clean and free of bacteria. | Source

Other Cosmetics

Nail Polish

Nail polish is a long-life product that never actually goes off in the organic sense, but its consistency thickens with age.

You can thin nail polish with nail polish remover, but expect a change in color.

Perfume

Like nail polish, perfume and other fragrance products cannot go off, but they can alter their color and scent after two or three years. To make them last longer, keep in a cool, dark place.

If you're not a regular wearer of perfume, buy Eau de Toilette, which keeps its scent for longer than Eau de Parfum.

Skin Care Products

Body lotions, moisturizers and self-tanning products keep for about six to eight months. When their smell changes they become less effective and are likely to cause breakouts.

Use a cosmetic spatula instead of dipping your fingers into pots and jars.

Cleaning Makeup Tools

To prolong the life of cosmetics and protect yourself from infection, keep makeup tools clean and free of bacteria.

How to Keep Makeup Brushes Clean

Wipe makeup brushes on a cosmetic tissue after each use and wash once a fortnight.

To wash, swirl in a few drops of baby shampoo in the palm of your hand, then rinse thoroughly under tepid water. Gently squeeze out excess moisture and, if necessary, tease back into form. Allow to dry on the edge of a counter so the bristles are in mid-air. This helps keep their shape.

Cleaning Other Makeup Tools

Use each side of a foundation sponge only once before throwing away, unless it’s a high quality, washable product that doesn’t become porous.

Wash eye shadow applicators and powder puffs once every couple of weeks as described above for makeup brushes.

Use rubbing alcohol to clean items like sharpeners and lash curlers.

An Easy to Use Reference Chart of When Cosmetics Expire

Cosmetic
Longevity
Cream and Liquid Foundation
1 - 2 years
Compact Foundation
max. 2 years
Tinted Moisturizer
6 - 8 months
Alphabet Cream (BB, CC, DD)
6 - 8 months
Concealer
max. 2 years
Cream Blush
max. 2 years
Powder Eye Shadow
max. 2 years
Face Powder (loose and pressed)
max. 2 years
Powder Blush
max. 2 years
Lipstick
approx. 2 years
Lip Gloss
max. 18 months
Lip Liner
max. 3 years
Mascara
3 - 6 months
Gel and Liquid Eyeliner
3 - 6 months
Pencil Eyeliner
ca. 3 years
Eyebrow Pencil
ca. 3 years
Nail Polish
Long-life*
Perfume and Fragrance Products
Long-life*
Skin Care Creams and Lotions
6 - 8 months
*May alter in color, smell and/or consistency

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Jayne Lancer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Jayne Lancer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayne Lancer 

      3 years ago from West London, UK

      You're absolutely right, BuyMeBeauty. Refrigeration does prolong the life of cosmetics.

    • BuyMeBeauty profile image

      BuyMeBeauty 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing all the different expiration times. I always find that putting mascara in the refrigerator helps it last a little longer. Thanks for the post!

    • Jayne Lancer profile imageAUTHOR

      Jayne Lancer 

      4 years ago from West London, UK

      Thank you for taking the time, MarieLB! If in doubt, throw out! I think the main problem is buying certain products on a whim, then forgetting we've got them.

    • MarieLB profile image

      MarieLB 

      4 years ago from YAMBA NSW

      Thank You #Jayne Lancer. That is very useful to me, cause I am shocking with make-up. Some of it is so old that I do not recall when I bought it. Probably years ago!! :)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, bellatory.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://bellatory.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)