How to Tell if Your Makeup is Expired


Spring 2024

Check out the latest digital issue.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest on what’s moving the world delivered to your inbox.

Trending Articles

While it is generally common knowledge that makeup has an expiration date, many of us may view it as a suggestion rather than a guideline. We’re all guilty of keeping products longer than we probably should, and many of us may not even look at the expiration dates on our cosmetics to begin with. 

However, using expired makeup has very real consequences. Expired makeup can cause breakouts, rashes, and infections if you’re not careful, and old makeup can even grow mold. Of course, in addition to the health risks, the formula in makeup starts to break down with use and your cosmetics will no longer apply how you’d like them to. Their ability to blend will decrease drastically, and the colour may even change.

Unopened makeup 

To start, the guidelines you see are for after the makeup has been opened. If you are storing your makeup in a cool, dry place, completely unopened, cosmetics can last between two and three years. So, if you have any backup products on hand, don’t worry, they’re not going to expire as quickly as your opened products. Just be sure to keep them out of the bathroom and in a cool place like the fridge or a room that receives little heat.


Look for an open jar symbol with an M. This tells you how many months a product is good for after opening.

General Guidelines

If you can’t find the expiry date on a product, generally it’s best practice to throw out any makeup that smells weird or off, has changed colour (oxidized), or if the texture has changed. Additionally, the shelf-life of a product entirely depends on the preservatives in the products. This means that the more natural the product, the faster the expiry. 

Some products expire more quickly than others, for instance mascara and liquid eyeliner have the shortest shelf lives. This is because they are liquids, which bacteria loves to grow in, and any bacteria that may be present on your face ends up back into the tube through the application process. It is recommended that you buy travel sizes of expensive products or tried and true inexpensive alternatives to avoid wasting money. As a quick tip, expired mascara smells a bit like gasoline.

Lip and eye pencils alternatively last quite a bit longer than their liquid counterparts. This is because regular sharpening removes any bacteria that may have been present on the product. That being said, if there is a white film on the top of your pencil, it’s best to throw it out.

Your makeup will also last longer if you wash your hands before applying cosmetics, and you wash your brushes and applicators regularly. As in, once per week on average. This may feel like a lot, especially if you lead a busy life, but keep in mind that it is safe to put most synthetic brushes in the dishwasher. Just make sure you’re using a gentler soap and you’re not washing any dishes that may cause food to transfer to your brushes.

Finally, nail polish does have an expiry date, but not due to bacteria. In fact, unopened nail polish can last indefinitely if stored correctly, and opened nail polish can take years to expire. In this case, the nail polish formula will start to break down over time, and you’ll find that it no longer applies as intended.

All of that is to say, when in doubt, throw it out. If you’re looking at a product and don’t remember when you bought it or how long it’s been sitting in your collection, there’s a very good chance you’ve had it for too long.

Expiry Dates 


ProductExpiration Date
Water-Based Liquid Foundation12 months
Oil-Based Liquid Foundation18 months
Concealer12 months
Face Powders
-Setting Powder 
-Powder Foundation
18-24 months
Cream Products 
12 months


ProductExpiration Date
Mascara3-6 months
Liquid Eyeliner3-6 months
Cream Eyeshadows12 months 
Powder Eyeshadows 24 months
Eye Pencils12-24 months 


ProductExpiration Date
Lipsticks24 months
Lip Pencils12-24 months
Lip Gloss12 months

Lily Frances | Staff Writer

Trending Articles

8 Must-Have Summer Fashion Accessories

Hats are definitely one of the accessories that scream—summer, especially, if it’s big and brightly coloured. The trend in the past has been for summer