How Long Makeup Lasts and When You Must Throw It Out

How Long Makeup Lasts and When You Must Throw It Out

You may not want to throw away a makeup product before it's completely gone, but following expiration dates are important. If you go through your makeup collection, you'll probably find products you've been holding onto for years. While wasting makeup may feel wrong, a negative reaction to spoiled products can feel even worse.

Cosmetics can become contaminated with bacteria, and replacing them is a must. Expired makeup can also lead to a number of skin irritations. When it comes to your skin and health, it's always better to be safe than sorry. 

We are going to go over how long makeup lasts and how to tell if it's time to throw a product out. 

Why Makeup Has Expiration Dates

You may be wondering why makeup even has expiration dates. They may appear to be made to last forever, but this is unfortunately not the case. 

Once a product is exposed to air, it begins to change slowly. Foundations and other liquid products contain ingredients that can separate over time. If you're using a foundation that contains oil, you may notice it start to rise to the top. This is similar to the way oil sits on the top of natural peanut butter, but in this case, it means it's probably expired.

If your foundation separates, you may get too much oil in one application that can lead to clogged pores and acne. If you notice your foundation's formulation changing, it's probably time to throw it out. 

Even if a product is never opened, the ingredients will eventually go bad. Makeup preservatives don't last forever. Since cosmetics contain water and other organic compounds, preservatives shield them from microbial contamination. Once they break down, the product becomes unsafe to use.

How Long Does Makeup Last 

There are helpful symbols to help you know how long your makeup is safe to use after opening. There is usually a number and a letter together on the packaging somewhere. It most often will say either 12M or 6M. The number stands for the number of months the product should last after you open it. 

Liquid Makeup

Foundation, in particular, can begin to oxidize after this time period. It will no longer match your skin tone and won't look ideal. If your foundation or other products are contaminated or exposed to high heat, they could change consistency and even smell. If you notice these changes, it's time to toss the product. HIDE products, and other makeup, does best when it’s stored in a dry environment away from sunlight. 


Dry powders, like face powder, blush, and bronzer can last for several years. Since bacteria don't flourish in dry environments, they are usually safe to use for up to four years. However, if it's not delivering the results it should, or if it looks off, it's best to replace the product. 


Your lips are susceptible to bacteria since the skin is thinner than anywhere else on your body.  If you have a cold sore, you may be transferring the bacteria onto the product. Lipstick is made with hydrating ingredients that can dry out once exposed to air. Lipstick usually lasts at least a year, but if it gets contaminated or loses its moisture, it may be time to replace it. 

Eyeliner and Mascara 

You should be most cautious when it comes to eyeliner. The eye area is delicate and can show signs of irritation quickly. You can experience redness, irritation, infection, and swelling from eyeliner that is expired or contaminated. Try not to share your eyeliner with friends or wipe it off with alcohol if you do. Once it begins to lose color, it dries out, or you notice an adverse reaction, throw it away. 

Generally, a tube of mascara can last up to two years unopened, but after that, it needs to be thrown out. If you notice it’s flaky or smells, it’s probably time to move on. 

How To Make Your Makeup Last Longer 

There are ways to clean your makeup if you left the cap off one of your products or you're worried they may be contaminated. You can also make it last longer by following a few simple rules.

Isopropyl Alcohol is a great makeup disinfectant. They even use it in medical and healthcare settings. You want to look for 70% IPA because it does the best job at killing bacteria. You can spritz it on almost any makeup, let it sit, and then wipe it off. It will kill germs and bacteria, so you don't need to throw out makeup early. 

Try not to share your makeup with anyone. You can end up with an infection from bacteria on your friend's skin. You want to be especially careful with your eye products since they often transmit germs.

We know powders last the longest since they don't attract a lot of bacteria growth. However, it can get a little crusty. The best way to maintain your powder products is to rub off the top layer gently. You may notice your compact blush change color or develop a film on the surface. 

This hard surface is from the oils on your makeup brush transferring to the powder. You can rub off the top layer with a tissue or scrape it off with a butter knife. 

Effects Expired Makeup Can Have on Your Skin

There are many adverse side effects you could experience if you use expired or contaminated makeup. As the molecules in the products' ingredients break down, you may end up with irritation. This irritation can look like redness, bumps, a rash, or swelling. 

Your makeup can also develop bacteria buildup, which can also cause skin irritation and infection. If you're dipping your fingers repeatedly into a product, like a cream concealer, you could be transferring bacteria, dirt, and other germs onto the product. Over time, the bacteria multiply, and when you apply the makeup to your skin, you could have skin issues in a hurry. 

Even if you're not putting your fingers into a product, it can still become contaminated. When you expose makeup to air, bacteria enter the container. You could also be upping your chances of a problem if you store your makeup in the bathroom. The steam from your shower provides the ideal environment for mold and bacteria to flourish. Try to always make sure your makeup is sealed and put away before showering. 

If you are using makeup with active ingredients in it, like foundation with SPF or salicylic acid, you definitely want to pay attention to expiration dates. The efficacy of these ingredients deteriorates over time. If you're going out in the sun and you think you're protected because your foundation has SPF, but it's expired, you may be in for a rude awakening later. 

Save your skin by always checking expiration dates and give it the smell test. If you're noticing sudden skin changes, and your makeup doesn't stink and isn't expired, do a patch test before using again. Apply a small amount of makeup on your face to see if you have the same reaction again. If you do, throw it out. If not, it may be another factor causing your skin issues.  

In Summary 

Your makeup can last a long time if you take care of it, but eventually, it will expire. You should try to be mindful of expiration dates and not continue to use your makeup after the recommended time. You can develop skin issues from makeup that is no longer considered safe to use. 

By storing your makeup in a dry environment and not leaving it open, you can make it last longer!



Cosmetics Preservation: A Review on Present Strategies | NCBI

70% ethanol / 70% isopropyl alcohol Frequently Asked Questions | EHS UMICH

What Happens to Your Face When You Use Expired Makeup | Women’s Health