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Cosmetic Expiry Chart and How to Extend Makeup Shelf Life

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Can you tell which of these have passed their shelf-life?

Can you tell which of these have passed their shelf-life?

Why It's Important to Check Makeup Expiration Dates

Since our cosmetics and skincare products are applied directly onto skin, it's important to make sure that they stay fresh and devoid of nasties and bacteria that could cause infections, skin inflammation or acne breakouts.

Many of us check to know when the things in our pantry will expire because we don't want to suffer from a tummy ache or food poisoning. But most of us tend to overlook the significance of knowing when our makeup expires! So while we check for the expiration of the food in our cabinets, fewer of us actually take note of the manufacturing or expiry dates on our cosmetic and skincare products (maybe only when we first purchase the item). While they may not cause a tummy ache, expired cosmetics could potentially bring about psychological and physical pain.

Cosmetic Expiry Chart

If you have never sanitized your makeup, it is going to degenerate faster!
* MFG: Manufacturing date

ProductHow long from MFG*?


6 months

Liquid foundation

1 year

Cream foundation

1 year

Compact foundation

1–1 1/2 years


1 year


2 years

Blush & bronzer

1 year

Cream blush

1–1 1/2 years

Powder eyeshadow

2 years

Cream eyeshadow

1–1 1/2 years

Pencil Eyeliner

1–2 years

Liquid eyeliner

3–6 months

Gel Eyeliner

1 year


3 months


1–2 years

Lip liner

1–2 years

Lip gloss

1 year

How to Know if My Makeup Has Gone Bad

There are three steps to quickly identify if your makeup has gone past its use-by is to smell, look and feel.

1. Smell: Try to make it a point to check the smell of your cosmetics or skincare once you’ve opened them. If your product is starting to give off a funky odor or smells distinctly different than how it was initially, it’s a good idea to toss it.

2. Look: Your cosmetics could change in appearance when they have gone bad, such as a difference in color, appearing cloudy, patchy or caked. Product separation (usually seen in liquids where a layer or oil starts to form on the surface, giving the look of 2 different layers of products) can occur when you’ve not been using your cosmetic for a while.

Most of the time a good shake will mix it all up, however, products tend to take a while to separate, which could imply that you’ve probably left it out for far too long.

3. Feel: Chemical reactions can cause the texture of your cosmetics to change considerably. Touch and check the consistency of your makeup; if it was a thick lotion before and runny now or has chunky bits, it could be spoiled.

It’s also important to note that cosmetics can go bad even if they haven’t gone past their expiry date, and improper storage such as placing them in a sunny area can exacerbate the process.

Extend the Life of Your Cosmetics

How to Properly Store Makeup

Cosmetics and skincare products should be kept in cool, dry places and out of direct sunlight. The heat from the sun could melt cream products like lipsticks, dry up liquid products such as toners, and the UV (ultraviolet rays) can break down the chemical bonds and preservatives in your makeup, causing them to turn bad faster.

Avoid keeping them in places with high humidity (like the bathroom). Moisture is a bacteria breeding ground, added warmth from the steam of your shower creates a haven for them. If in doubt, look at the directions included on the label, certain skincare products are better suited in the fridge because of the volatile ingredients contained (vitamin c is a good example, it’s a wonderful pigmentation lighting ingredient but degenerates and oxidizes fairly quickly if not kept in a dark, opaque bottle and in the fridge).

Repacking Makeup: Depot and Decant

You could depot or decant your lotions and creams into a container that eases dispensing. For example, for moisturizing creams that come in a pot, you can transfer them into a squeeze bottle with a flip-top cap or into a pump dispenser. This removes the chance of contamination from fiddling around it with your fingers. It is mess-free, fuss-free and hygienic.

Storing serums and oil products in dark-colored glass bottles is a good housekeeping practice. This protects the contents from oxidizing, UV rays and a barrier to the continuous fluctuations in temperature.

How to Keep Makeup Hygienic

For the sake of convenience, many of us will dip our fingers into our cosmetics for direct application, especially with things like eye shadows, moisturizers, cream blushers, etc.

However, the oils from our fingers could contaminate our makeup and cause bacteria to build up!

The best way is to use clean disposable or washable applicators like cotton pads, cotton swabs, brushes, sponges, and spatulas.

A light sharpen with every use keeps your lip liners, eyebrow and eyeliner pencils from dirt build-up on the surface.

Used brushes, time for a dip!

Used brushes, time for a dip!

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

  1. Under warm running water, hold your brush with the tip facing down.
  2. Once it is soaked, add some mild detergent—baby shampoo is great—and lather it up! If you have a makeup brush washing mat, use that! It's washes the dirt, grime and makeup off your brushes effortlessly.
  3. Rinse out all the shampoo thoroughly, if the water is still dirty, shampoo again and repeat till you get a clean rinse.
  4. Gently pat your brush on a paper towel to remove excess water and hang till completely dried, again, with the tip facing down.

* Brushes should be washed every other week, depending on how often they are used.

Tips to Avoid Bacteria Contamination in Makeup

  • Avoid sharing makeup that comes in direct contact with your skin (concealers, mascaras, lipsticks etc.) with others. Honestly, avoid sharing makeup, period.
  • Maintain good hygiene when using your products. Wash your hands clean before application.
  • Use the correct applicators when applying makeup to avoid dipping the same tool in everything, eliminating cross-contamination.
  • Do not be afraid to bin your expired makeup. If you feel that it is going to be such a waste, use them for arts and crafts projects, not on your face!

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.

© 2012 Peony


Peony (author) on May 11, 2012:

@ Modern Lady - That's what I'm guilty of as well, sometimes it's really hard to part with them! I guess the best thing is to buy in smaller quantities.. (Is that possible though? God bless consumerism!)

Peony (author) on May 11, 2012:

@ Efficient Admin - Thanks for reading!

Modern Lady from Chicago, IL on May 11, 2012:

Makeup expiration is overlooked way too much! It's amazing the risk we put ourselves in with old products. Your chart is a great reference. I've been trying to be better about tossing old makeup, but it's hard when you know how much you've spent on it!

Michelle Dee from Charlotte, NC on May 11, 2012:

Great information. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.