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Check the Date: Is Your Makeup Expired?

The other day I did a massive clean-up of my makeup vanity making piles of old and barely used products. I realized that I hadn’t checked the date on any of these things post-pandemic and it was definitely time to throw some things away. Much like your food or old medicine, makeup has expiration dates that should be adhered to. That old lipstick that’s ashy or that liquid lipstick that is separated and oily? It may be time to toss them out. Cosmetics used once they’ve expired can cause skin irritation or acne breakouts. I know more than anyone how expensive makeup is and trust me, it hurts to have to toss it out. However, it’s a necessary chore that will ensure our face is flawless and our skin is free of irritation.

We’re going to give you a guide on what makeup to toss and when. 

We spoke with Shana Henry, a licensed esthetician based in San Diego, about what can happen with your skin if you use expired makeup. Here’s what Shana had to say: “It’s super important to pay attention to when cosmetic products expire. When cosmetics expire that’s when the preservatives in the product break down which can allow bacteria to grow. This can cause irritation and skin concerns. Using old foundation and face makeup could cause skin to become sensitive with redness, dry flaky skin and easily irritated. Using expired eye makeup could cause redness and inflammation, a stye and increased tearing.” Shana adds a great tip, “write the date on your products when you open them in order to keep track of when to throw it away.”

Follow Shana on her social media channels:

The expiration date on your cosmetic products can be found on the label on the back or bottom of the products. 


As a general rule, once the foundation is opened it has about a 6 month to a year shelf life before you have the risk of it expiring. Once your product starts to separate, unfortunately, it’s time to toss it. In order to keep your product as sanitary as possible, keep your fingers away from the applicator. I like to use a stainless steel makeup palette or pour the foundation on the back of my hand and apply it with my sponge or brush. 


Mascara has the shortest shelf life of all of your makeup products. After 3 months, it’s time to let it go. Expired mascara can cause some serious eye irritation and infection on your eyes. Switch out the mascara immediately if you notice the formula getting clumpy or if you notice any smell. 

Liquid eyeliner has the same shelf life as your mascara and can carry the same risks of infection if used past the expiration date. Toss it after 3 months of opening to avoid any complications. 

Eyeliner pencils have a bit more durability, if you constantly keep them sharpened.  It should go without saying, but don’t share your liquid eye makeup products. 

Eyeshadow lasts about two years as long as it has been maintained well. The powder formula should be kept away from humidity and in a cool, dry location. If you notice your eyeshadow is caked, looks ashy, or has a smell, it’s time to let it go. You don’t want to risk using any old products around your eyes, so pay attention to any obvious changes. 


Your lipstick has a shelf life of about one year. Once liquid lipstick or gloss starts to separate and get oily, it’s time to let it go. With cream lipstick, look for any changes in texture, an ashy finish or dryness is a good indicator that it’s time to toss it. Again, the goal is to eliminate the risk of any skin infections, and holding on to old makeup is not worth the risk. 

As a makeup artist, and collector, I tend to buy a lot of products. I know how expensive this habit is, so I pay close attention to things after I’ve opened them to make sure I’m not using anything that will cause my skin harm. As a tip, I spend the least amount on products that expire quickly. My favorite mascara costs $6.99 for a reason, if I have to toss it because it’s expired, it doesn’t hurt my pockets nearly as much. As the seasons are changing, take this time to go through your makeup bag or drawer and separate the products that may need to be tossed out. Once you have the old stuff out the way, you can make room for something new. 

We hope this guide on when to toss your makeup was helpful for you. While we all want to look snatched when our face is done, we also want our skin and eyes to be protected from bacteria. Take a look at your makeup stash and toss or keep what’s needed. Leave us a comment below and let us know if this helped you at all. 

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