Makeup Expires, Stop Acting Like It Doesn’t

Is your makeup past its prime? Don't risk irritation or breakouts! This guide tackles the often ignored truth about makeup expiration.

Facetune team
min read

I get it, you spent an arm and a leg on that high-end mascara that promised the world, and now you want to get every last ounce of use out of it. Sound familiar?

If you’re like most, the mere idea of throwing out makeup probably has your eye twitching, but here’s the deal: makeup expires. Plain and simple. I know, I know, we all want to pretend our makeup can somehow last for years, but this simply isn’t true. In fact, some of your makeup only lasts months.

So what happens when you insist on using expired makeup? Do different products expire at different times? How often should you be replacing your makeup?

All valid questions and below is allll the answers to keep your makeup collection in tip-top shape.

So first, let’s look at how you can determine if your cosmetics have expired.

How To Check If Your Makeup Is Expired

Unless you have a bit of Monica Gellar in you, there’s a good chance you have no idea when you purchased certain pieces of makeup. A palette here, a mascara there, it’s not particularly difficult to find yourself in a pile of products that you don’t exactly even remember buying (guilty as charged).

So, what’s a girl to do? Keep using makeup that could potentially be expired?

Nope, nope, nope, definitely not. If you’re concerned about the expiration date on your makeup, there’s a secret symbol right there on the packaging that indicates how long the product should last after you open it. There should be a number with the letter “M”  somewhere on the package. For instance, a “3M” on a tube of mascara indicates that you can safely use the product for 3 months, but after that period, you should throw that product out.

Of course, if you have absolutely no idea when you purchased the makeup then you probably don’t still have the package it came in either, or if you do the label is probably faded - rendering this new trick you just learned essentially useless. So, if you’re having difficulty finding the expiration for whatever reason, here’s a list of how long makeup products should actually last.

Common Makeup Product Expirations


While it’s always nice to have different concealer products available (sometimes you’re tanner, sometimes you’re ghostly pale), remember, concealer can generally only last a year. If your concealer feels dry or it’s giving you that dreaded “cakey” look, throw that baby out.


Foundation is a tricky one because the expiration depends on what kind of foundation you’re using. For instance, foundations that are oil-based will likely only last 6 months to a year, while a powdered foundation can last up to two years. If you find you take a long time to go through products, you might be best off with a powdered foundation. If you’re a regular makeup junkie, you should be fine with oil-based.  


While you can find cream blush/bronzer, powdered products are much more common, and as stated above, powder-based makeup can last up to two years. But hey, a word of warning: Be careful about cleaning your brushes when using powdered products. While the powdered makeup might not expire as quickly, if you’re using a brush to apply the powder, it’s very common for pesky bacteria to grow on the brush. No thanks, right?


I know you want to make your mascara last, but if it’s dry, has a smell, or is a different texture from when you bought it, it’s time for a replacement. You’ll generally find this starts to happen around 4-6 months, depending on the quality of the mascara. Also, keep in mind, if you’re regularly pumping your wand as if your life depended on it, put that wand down and listen up. Pumping your mascara lets air into the tube and dries it out quicker. Mind blown? Trust me on this one.


This is another one that depends on whether the product is oil-based or not. If you’re using liquid eyeliner, you’ll likely want to chuck your eyeliner after 6 months; however, if you’re more about that classic pencil, your eyeliner should last you a year.


Probably the makeup that can last you the longest, lipstick has a good bang for its buck, lasting up to two years! A good reason to start rocking a bold lip, right? For balms and glosses, you’ll have a solid year of use.

What Happens When You Wear Expired Makeup?

So you just read through the list above, and you’re still not convinced you’ll be throwing out any of your makeup anytime soon. If this is you, let me ask you this: How does the sound of redness, bumps, inflammation, and blisters sound to you?

Probably not so great…

But hey, when you continually use expired makeup, this is what you risk.

Expired makeup can harbor bacteria, especially if you’re storing your makeup in the bathroom (hello mold). This means that even if you keep to a strict skincare routine, you'll find yourself with breakouts caused by those old cosmetics.

And oh, what about expired eye makeup? Oh, it’s a cause of pink eye. Yum. In fact, mascara is probably the first product you should check for expiration dates. It has the shortest lifespan of any makeup product and is also the one that can cause the most irritation if you’re using it past its expiration date.

Are You Using Expired Makeup?

If you are using expired makeup, don’t despair, it’s a simple fix. Run, don’t walk to your makeup bag, and just start chucking. Be ruthless with what makeup you keep. While it might be all fine and dandy now, if you’re applying expired makeup to your skin, eyes, or lips, you’re increasing your chances for infection.

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