Does Makeup Expire? Yep. Here’s The Shelf Life Of All Your Fav Products

“Does makeup expire?” I asked myself one day, as I pulled out my trusty black eyeliner and prepared to darken my waterline.

I’d worn my eyeliner on and off throughout COVID for virtual dates and important meetings. But because I hadn’t used it every day, I’d kept it for…a while…lining my eyes every now and then with a highly-coveted wing.

I was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to buy more makeup within a month, because I was being green by not throwing out another plastic utensil.

Sure, it was probably a little gross to use the same eyeliner throughout COVID. But whatever, right? I capped it and kept it at the proper temp, how could it be bad? 

Turns out: it’s not whatever. Makeup expiration is a real thing, and it’s a serious thing. All of your beauty products have expiration dates, and they aren’t there simply because they want you to buy more of it. Nope, there are legit reasons why it’s best to throw out that foundation. Here’s why.


Why Does Makeup Expire?

Makeup products expire, even if you haven’t used up that entire bottle of foundation or tube of lipstick. That’s because using them regularly over the course of several months allows bacteria to build up on your products. Then you use them again, and again, and again…and the bacteria continues to multiply. 

In one UK research study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, it was found that “about 79-90% of all used [makeup] products were contaminated with bacteria.” Bacteria strains that were found in beauty products included staph and E. coli, which can cause swollen skin boils and cellulitis, respectively. 

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The FDA also published an article on makeup expiration, stating that applicators are exposed to bacteria and fungi with each use, while touching makeup products like your foundation and eyeshadow can introduce bacteria like mold and yeast. Yuck.

Another reason your makeup goes bad: you’re not cleaning your applicators enough. Beauty blenders are gross – even if you wash them, they remain damp, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. It’s why you should be replacing your beauty blender every three to six months, says Ava Shamban, a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist, to Allure.

does makeup expire

Now that you know the deets on what happens and why those beauty blenders should be replaced regularly, here’s how long each product will last when used and treated properly.

When Does Makeup Expire?

So, how long does each makeup product last? Here’s a super useful graph from Real Simple:

As you’ll see, mascara and eyeliner are supposed to be thrown away first. That’s because they’re close in contact to your eyes, plus they’re exposed to the outside environment each time you uncap. 

Next up, your liquids and creams, like concealer, foundation, and nail polish. These products can grow bacteria, and then you’re constantly putting them on your skin. This is especially ick if you’re covering blemishes, because you can end up bothering them even more – if not fully infecting them – by applying germ-ridden foundation or concealer. Nail polish is also gross, but the main reason you should throw it away is because it separates. 

Finally, we have powders and lipstick. Powders are still capable of growing bacteria, but they don’t have a warm breeding environment like liquids do. They still pick up germs, and applying them to your dirty face can cause inflammation and potential infections; however, little to no build-up can keep your powders fresh.

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Lipstick, on the other hand, will change in texture when it’s time to be replaced – you’ll feel it when you try to apply. Changes can include flaking or a liquid, gooey feeling. Either way, it’s time to throw it out.

Finally, if your makeup starts smelling or looks foul, don’t hesitate to throw it into the trash. That’s a dead giveaway that it should go nowhere near your face.

To Sum It Up

Hanging onto that mascara bottle and using that beauty blender for too long can have consequences. When you buy new cosmetics, note when you’ve purchased them.

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When using beauty blenders or other toiletries, make sure you’re cleaning them properly – aka, no letting that beauty blender sit damp on your sink. Keep it sanitized and you’ll be fine.


Did you know that your makeup has an expiration date? Which products are you throwing out? Share with us in the comments.

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