If you’re like me, you have old makeup lying around that hasn’t been used in a while. You may have tried a product for a little while and then stopped using it since. Maybe you have makeup that you want to use but just aren’t sure if it’s past its expiration date. How to tell if makeup is expired?
To know if your makeup has expired, look for the expiry date on the packaging, and if past that date, throw it out. If there is no expiry date, other ways to tell if it has expired is if it smells off, the color has changed, or the texture has dried up. If you’re unsure, it’s best to replace with new makeup.
You might have experienced what we’re talking about and been guilty about using makeup products without bothering to check if they’re still good to go. But since we know that you care a lot about your skin health and how you look, then it’s best to pay special attention to what you put on your face to get the most out of your beauty investments.
It would not be good at all to do your makeup so you’re looking great, only to end up with irritated skin after! You can prevent this from happening by being an informed user rather than a passive consumer. Continue reading to learn more about how to tell if makeup is expired.
How to Tell If Makeup Is Expired
By looking for the product’s expiration date, examining it closely for changes in appearance, and smelling it to see if there’s a funny smell, these are ways that will tell you when it is about time to throw your makeup in the garbage bin.
First check your makeup product if it shows a symbol like the one in the image below. This is the expiry date. It will show something like 6M, 12M, or 24M for 6-month, 12-month, or 24-month expiry.
If there’s no expiry date, check for an off smell or to see if the texture has dried and become crumbly.
See below for common makeup products and how to tell when each is expired.
1. Eye Makeup
Makeup experts advise that, for best results, eye makeup should not be kept longer than 6 to 8 months from the time that you open the package. If you use it past the expiry date, you run the risk of developing an infection in or around the eyes! A good way to tell if eye makeup has expired is if it begins to crumble easily. A dry, crumbly texture indicates that it’s near its expiration date and is time to replace it.
2. Foundation and Blush
For foundations and blush, powders tend to last longer than the ones in cream form. Creams are usually good for 6 months while powders can be used safely for 18 months to two years. You can easily spot changes in the smell, consistency, compactness or color of the foundation or blush, to know if it’s time to replace it already.
This beauty formulation was invented in the 1950s. Today, it has four varieties: pencil, stick, cream or liquid, which is the most popular one because of its flawless coverage. Concealers work best when consumed within 1.5 years from the time you open them. If, however, you notice a different smell or a change in the color and texture, then get rid of them.
Like eye shadow, mascara has a relatively shorter lifespan, usually 3 to 4 months maximum. The compound gets dry easily and clumpy as time passes. Furthermore, studies suggest that the mascara bottle and brush tend to easily attract bacteria or fungi.  You, therefore, wouldn’t want to risk developing an infection like eyelid inflammation.
For more on mascara expiry, see the below video:
5. Lipstick and Lip Liner
Lipsticks are useable for a year (unless you only use one shade regularly, and in this case, the lipstick won’t even reach a year). After this period, they usually begin drying out and smelling differently. Note that bacteria can thrive on the hard wax of the lipstick, so just dispose of it once it starts to harden. It’s also not advisable to borrow lipstick from or lend it to another person, especially a soon-to-expire or expired lipstick – for hygiene purposes.
6. Lip Gloss
Cleaning your lip gloss regularly or more frequently will help preserve its life. Wipe the tip with a clean tissue or dry cloth. Wipe it again with a tissue or cotton cloth with alcohol or sanitizer. Once dry, put the cap back on. When the thick liquid of the gloss starts to look hazy and smell funny, it is close to being expired so throw it away.
7. Eyeliner, Lip Liner, and Brow Pencil
Eyeliners and lipliners in pencils, as well as brow pencils, are good to use until about two years, provided they are properly cared for. They should always be sharpened and after each use, the caps should be replaced tightly so they won’t dry up. Meanwhile, liquid forms of these liners will only last from 4 to 6 months, especially as they are prone to contamination by bacteria.
8. Makeup Brush and Sponge
To be safe and to maintain proper hygiene, make it a habit to clean your makeup sponges and brushes weekly by washing them with shampoo. Also, to prevent any germ contamination, refrain from touching the product with your fingers to apply the makeup. Brushes and sponges can last a long time if properly cared for. Once makeup brushes and sponges dry or crack, it’s time to replace with new ones.
Perfumes and colognes are cosmetics too, but unlike the above products we’ve seen, fragrances have a much longer shelf life. In fact, fragrances don’t have a predictable and tried-and-tested duration, as it all depends on their formulation.
Some will expire and lose their scent after a year while others will be good for a decade or so. Perfume experts attest that on the average, a fragrance can be used between 3 and 5 years. The heavier the base notes used, the longer the fragrance will last.
10. Nail Polish
Nail polish is considered makeup, too. And like its colleagues, it has an expiration date. Ingredients present in the polish tend to evaporate quickly once the bottle is opened. So it’s important to keep the lid tightly closed when not in use and store it in an upright position to prevent any spills and build-up in the brush area.
Nail polish usually has a shelf life of up to 2 years, but once you notice a thickening or hardening of the polish, plus discoloration, then it’s time to kiss it goodbye.
Still wondering how to tell if makeup is expired? See the below video for an easy way to tell if your makeup and other beauty products have expired or not:
Does Makeup Expire If It’s Unopened?
It happens at times – either we buy more makeup than what we need or stock up on our favorite brand and shade that happened to be on sale. Maybe we also got a number of cosmetics for Christmas, either way, we sometimes find ourselves with several unopened beauty products. But can we still use them after some years?
Well, cosmetics with pigments (lipstick, eye shadow) have a relatively short shelf life when unopened – about 2 years maximum after their expiry date. The rest of them (for the body, skin, and hair) may survive until 3 years when unopened. Of course, all of them should be kept away from the sunlight and in a cool dry place.
Do Makeup Removers Expire?
As you may have already realized, even makeup removers or skin cleansers have a shelf life, and it’s usually within 1 to 2 years. Like almost all products, they do have expiration dates; you just have to look for them. However, it also depends on other things like formulation and packaging. If by any chance, you picked up a cleanser that’s already expired, you are bound to face these risks:
- Reduced Efficacy – the ingredients that are supposed to clean your skin might not work properly as intended as their potency have been diminished or lost.
- Skin Reactions – such as pimples and flakiness on certain parts of the face, especially when you have sensitive skin
- Infections – the longer the expiration date, the more the cleanser is prone to having fungi and bacteria. These tend to breed in the bottle, making you exposed to skin infections.
Is It Safe to Use Expired Makeup?
It’s normal for us to not want things to go to waste, so much so that we’re tempted to continue using a product past its expiration date. When it comes to food though, we’re likely to be more careful as we don’t want to get sick! For cosmetics, while it’s not exactly life-threatening to use an expired product, we still need to be careful.
The worst-case scenario of using expired makeup is that it may cause some irritation or redness, especially if your skin is sensitive. Sometimes, expiration dates are difficult to find, but other manufacturers use codes like a number and “M,” which pertains to the number of months that the product is good to use.
See the below video to learn more about whether you can or can’t keep makeup past its expiry date:
How to Avoid Skin Reactions to Expired Makeup
Here are some things to remember in order to spare you from experiencing skin reactions brought about by accidentally using expired makeup. If the makeup is expired, throw it out and replace with new. But if you aren’t sure, then follow the below tips to avoid irritation.
- The fewer the ingredients in the label, the less likely they have a lower chance of harming your skin.
- Perform a patch test before trying on any product. Just rub a small amount of the makeup on the inside of your forearm or elbow and wait for around 24 hours for any sign of itchiness, swelling, redness or just irritation. When using fragrance, apply it on your clothes instead of your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- If you’ll be using a product for the first time, read the ingredients carefully and do the patch test nonetheless even if the label indicates that the product promises to be mild or claims to be tested by dermatologists or is hypoallergenic.
See the below video where YouTuber Wayne Goss describes makeup expiration dates and what to keep and what to toss:
Conclusion – How to Tell If Makeup Is Expired
So, how to tell if makeup is expired? Always check the expiration date on the label to see if the product is still good to use. Take the time to smell it too to make sure that it doesn’t smell bad and examine the color if it’s still the same (no discoloration). By doing these three basic things, then you can be sure that you can still use the product and keep on looking good!
If unsure, test the product on a small part of your skin. It’s best, however, to replace it with a new makeup product if you’re unsure. You can also write on the new product the date when purchased if you really want to be on top of your game.