How Long is Foundation Good For?

Makeup set

It can be hard to part with makeup, especially a good foundation. When you find a good foundation, it’s like hitting the jackpot. You know the moment. You’ve finally found a foundation that doesn’t streak when you put it on, holds all day long, even through the sweat and tears, and has that flawless finish that adds the finishing touch to your makeup.

Parting with this integral part of your makeup bag isn’t always easy. But when your foundation is expired, it’s important to throw it out and replace it. Using expired makeup is kind of like using expired skincare products. They just don’t work the same.

When you toss out expired makeup, it can be a lifesaver to have a backup handy. Knowing when to buy more foundation to replace your current foundation? Not so easy. That’s why we made this guide. Let’s walk through everything you need to know about how long foundation is good for and how to tell when it isn’t good anymore.

Expiration Date of Foundation

Expiration dates are there for a reason. The expiration date, or shelf-life, of a product is the amount of time you can use the product safely. The expiration date of makeup can vary depending on what kind of product it is, what ingredients it contains, how it’s used, and whether it’s stored properly.

For example, eye makeup tends to have a shorter shelf life than other products. This is due to the possibility of eye infection from the bacteria that enters your mascara, eyeshadow, or eyeliner. Most experts recommend using eye makeup products for a maximum of 4 months before throwing them out. If you let bacteria sit for longer than this, you may risk infection.

Face makeup tends to have a longer expiration date. The typical expiration date of foundations is around one to two years, depending on ingredients. Water-based liquid foundations can last around one year. If you have an oil-based liquid foundation, it can last up to 2 years.

Don’t worry. We aren’t forgetting about powder foundation. Powder foundation products can last for up to 2 years as well. If you aren’t sure what kind of foundation is right for you, this resource goes over the different kinds of foundation and everything else you might need to know.

Foundation makeup is always tested to make sure it’s safe until the expiration date. After that, your foundation isn’t considered safe for use anymore. 

What Factors Influence Shelf Life?

While there are some general guidelines to how long products are considered safe, your makeup might expire before this if you use it incorrectly, store it improperly, or let others use it. Here are some of the factors that influence shelf life:

The day you open it plays an important role in the shelf life. Even if you bought your makeup a month ago, it might still be good as new if you haven’t opened it yet. The key is whether the seal has been broken. If you opened the makeup product but haven’t used it, it’s still been exposed to bacteria and will keep the regular expiration date. If you bought it but haven’t opened it yet, it might last you a bit longer.

How and where you store your foundation matters too. Each makeup product has a proper way to be used and stored. It’s important to carefully read any directions on how to store and care for your makeup product when you buy it. However, if you can’t find directions, try to avoid warm, moist places. This can encourage mold and bacteria growth which can speed up the expiration process. Aim to keep your makeup in a cool, dry place. Avoid the bathroom or anywhere where there’s steam and heat.

How your makeup is packaged can also influence how long it’s good for. If you open up your foundation and notice that a seal is already broken, it’s opened, or it’s not packaged correctly, toss it out. As disappointing as this sounds, contacting the company and getting a new foundation is better than exposing your skin to bacteria.

It’s important to note here that if your liquid foundation has SPF, it doesn’t last as long as other foundations. At least, it won’t continue offering the same protection from the sun. After six months, your foundation with SPF no longer offers the full UVA/UVB protection that it used to. You can continue using it as foundation, but it’s important that you don’t rely on it for sun protection.

What Happens When You Use Expired Makeup

It may seem harmless to use expired makeup. After all, it’s not like you’re drinking expired milk that could get you sick, right? Actually, there are some serious reasons why using expired makeup isn’t the best idea.

According to Cleveland Clinic, expired face makeup can lead to unwanted breakouts, blemishes, acne, and skin irritation. It can even lead to allergic reactions. This is because of the amount of bacteria that can find its way into our makeup products.

When you use the same foundation brush and dip the brush directly into your foundation, it can spread bacteria and expose your foundation bottle to germs. The germs sit in the bottle and grow in the right environment, and when you use it again, these bacteria then transfer to your skin.

While a little bit of bacteria is just a part of life, it’s important not to keep foundation after it’s expired. Plus, by storing it correctly and using it correctly, you can avoid exposing your foundation to bacteria and having to throw it out early.

Using Your Foundation Correctly to Extend the Shelf Life

Here are some of the correct ways to store and use your foundation!

Our two biggest tips are actually our favorite ways to apply HIDE’s Premium Foundation! The first way is to use the custom pump applicator. The pump is designed for easy application that doesn’t expose your foundation to any skin or bacteria directly. Instead, you pump some onto your fingers and then apply it to your face.

The second tip is similar to the first but involves a foundation brush. If you don’t like to apply foundation with your fingers, a thin, bristled, synthetic makeup brush is the way to go. The synthetic bristles don’t absorb product, and the thin edges allow for smooth, streak-free application to your skin.

If you’re a fan of using a makeup brush, try using the pump to put foundation on the back of a clean hand. Then, dip your foundation brush in and apply your skin. This is another way to apply liquid foundation without exposing the contents of the bottle to bacteria unnecessarily.

It’s also important to note here that sharing isn’t necessarily caring when it comes to foundation. Sharing makeup can result in cross-contamination between you and your friend, leading to bacteria in your foundation, on your skin, and a shorter shelf life. No matter how desperate your friend is for extra coverage, sharing may not be the best option.

Knowing the proper ways to use your foundation can make or break how long it will last.

How to Tell if Foundation is Expired

For liquid foundation, there are some telltale signs that it’s expired. If the texture of your foundation has changed from smooth to chunky or grainy, it’s time to toss it. Similarly, if the liquid or oil has separated in your foundation, that’s a sign that its time is up. Think of it as checking to see if your milk is still good. If there’s a funky consistency, chances are it’s time to go.

You can also look for changes in color and smell to see if your makeup is expired! Foundation that is no longer good may produce a funky smell as a result of excess bacteria build up. If you happen to catch a whiff of an off smell, you certainly won’t want to put that on your face.

And, just like checking to see if a fruit or vegetable is still good, check the color! Those brown strawberries probably aren’t good anymore, just like the bread with the blue and green spots that indicate mold. If your foundation color has gone from fair porcelain with neutral undertones to a yellow tint that’s starting to separate—sorry, sister. It’s time to toss it. 


Makeup used after the expiration date isn’t the best idea—especially foundation. This can lead to lots of unwanted bacteria on your face. To avoid using expired makeup, take a look in your purse, makeup bag, or drawers. If you do find any old makeup, we recommend throwing it away.

We know it can be hard to part with your first blue eyeshadow or your first full coverage concealer, but using products that are no longer good for your skin? Not the best idea.

Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have to go makeup-less to the store. You can replace your favorite concealers and foundations with HIDE’s Premium Concealer and Foundation to get the same full coverage you love!



Shelf Life and Expiration Dating of Cosmetics | FDA

Shelf Life and Expiration Dates | Cosmetics Info

Beauty Product Shelf Life: How to Tell If Makeup Is Expired | Masterclass 2021

Foundations | Cosmetics Info

When Should You Toss Your Makeup? | Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic

Is the Sunscreen in Your Makeup Enough? | Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic