Time to Toss It: Makeup’s Shelf Life

It’s always easy to tell when food has expired – you can tell just by the smell or taste. But what about our makeup? Unlike food, just because a product looks or smells okay doesn’t mean you should actually use it. Remember, this stuff is going on your skin and around sensitive areas like your eyes; you wouldn’t smear sour milk there, so why would you use old product?


Luckily, there are numerous sites that can tell you when a product expires based on the batch code (I like You can also follow this general guide for items you’re not sure about.


Mascara – – 3 months

Mascara is the makeup item you’ll need to replace most often, simply because the very packaging design makes it easy for bacteria to grow. Every time you remove the wand, you’re pumping oxygen into the mascara. This allows bacteria to travel and fester, something you don’t want in an item you apply around your eyes.

Lip products – – 9 months to 1 year

There is some wiggle room with lip products, but when in doubt, toss it out. Your liquid lip products, like lip gloss, will expire faster than solids. However, if it’s a lip balm that requires finger application, you’ll want to toss the product even before it expires, since you’re always adding new bacteria every time you touch it.


Foundation – – 1 year to 18 months

For your foundation, especially liquid foundation, check the ingredients; if it’s water-based, it’ll last a year. Oil-based foundations will give you a little more shelf life at 18 months. It might be tempting to keep using your foundation if it doesn’t smell, but think about it like this: foundation often settles onto your face and into your skin. Do you want expired chemicals to cause break outs? Didn’t think so.


Eye shadow/powders – – 2 years

Good news! If it takes you a while to hit pan on your eye shadows, you still have time! Shadows and other powdered products can usually last two years, maybe longer if you check the expiration date. However, make sure you clean your application brushes often – otherwise, you’re adding a lot of bacteria to your eye shadows that can fester and grow.



Remember, even if you think a product can last longer, make sure you follow the posted expiration date. Even mineral makeup has an expiration date, and if you don’t see one posted, use a website to look it up. When in doubt, toss it out.


How often do you toss your makeup, or are you a hoarder? Have you ever had a terrible experience with a rancid product? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!