BY: Hannah Hartz

November 24, 2018

An Esthetician Answers: When Does Makeup Expire?

Hannah Hartz is a Chicago-based esthetician with 7 years experience. She currently works at CaTara Med Spa. Here, Hartz answers one of your most-asked questions: when does makeup expire?

The shelf life of your makeup is pretty straightforward. Many products will tell you on the label, and most of them will tell you themselves by ceasing to work over time. Really, the hardest part about throwing out your mascara – even after it has started to dry and clump up – are those nagging thoughts: “Um… do you know how much I spent on this thing?” and “But this is the only thing that makes my lashes look amazing!” And that makes sense. If your product is still kind of doing its job, what’s the worst that could happen if you just keep on using it? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t pretty.

The Shelf Life Basics

Let’s look at a basic rundown of your products’ shelf life. Shortest lifespan award goes to mascara, at merely 3 to 6 months. Your gel eyeliner is next at 6 to 8 months, and pencil eyeliner a little longer, at about a year. The difference in these is because your gel usually gets double dipped, versus the pencil, which can be sharpened and wiped clean. Foundation lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, the shorter side for pot formulations and the longer side for ones with a pump dispenser. Lipsticks and powders (such as blush and eyeshadows) run the longest: up to 2 years, especially if you keep them sanitized with alcohol! 

RELATED: An Esthetician Reveals Her Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routine

when does makeup expire

Why Is Using Expired Makeup So Bad?

Negative outcomes from using expired makeup can range from “meh” to “eww…” to “yeah, that’s pretty bad.” On the “meh” side, you’re pretty much just dealing with makeup that doesn’t really work anymore. These things are only formulated to last a certain length of time, and after that, formulas start to break apart. Colors, smell and texture start to change. Things get clumpy and flaky, pigment is less noticeable, and things no longer sit right on the skin. 

What’s worse: your products are a breeding ground for bacteria as soon as they are opened and exposed to the air. Every day that goes by that your product container is open, the more time you allow for additional bacteria to access your makeup; not to mention the bacterial exposure from your fingers or your not-so-clean makeup brushes. This bacterial growth leads to further unpleasantries: skin irritation – especially around the eyes, bacterial infections, breakouts, and even parasites! Yeah. That’s pretty bad.

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Is There Any Way to Prolong My Products’ Shelf Life?

There a few little tricks you can do to help your makeup last a little longer. Spray and wipe down your powders and lipsticks with alcohol to help keep them cleaner. Wash your makeup brushes regularly to avoid spreading bacteria (this also helps keep your skin healthy!). Store your makeup in a cool, dry area away from the sun; definitely keep them outside the bathroom, which can get very humid. While these ideas will help keep your products cleaner, which will preserve them a little bit extra, you still want to keep your timeline relatively short. Try marking your container when you open it with the projected expiration date, so when you pick it up and you’re past the expiration date, you can go right ahead and toss it in the trash. Remember, no matter how fabulous and expensive your mascara is, you are always better off just buying a new tube than having to heal a nasty eye infection! 

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