Does Makeup Expire? How to Check Makeup Expiration Dates

Wondering how to check your makeup expiration dates? We’re sharing when you should toss it out and how to tell when it’s gone bad.

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how to check expired makeup

Be honest, how long has that tube of your favorite mascara been sitting on your vanity? Chances are, too long!

Yes, even makeup and skincare products have a shelf life and it’s shorter than you’d expect.

Many cosmetic and skincare products are pricey so it can be tempting to continue to use every last drop.

I was sad to see my Estee Lauder’s Double Wear (pricey, yet amazing foundation) start to separate. I wore it on special occasions and, in the past 12 months, was only halfway through the bottle.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt having to toss it out. Another reason I tend to save on “special occasion” makeup.

does makeup expire if unopened

Why You Should Stop Using Expired Makeup

All makeup eventually expires, usually within 2 years, so it’s a good idea to do regular inventory checks.

Keeping beauty products longer than recommended may result in some undesirable effects.

Once a product is exposed to air, harmful bacteria start to grow and can become a health issue.

Skin irritation, clogged pores, infections, pink eye, and sty may result if you decide to overlook a product’s shelf life.

The best practice is to look over your makeup collection at the change of the season to either toss or use up before it expires.

You spend good money on beauty products so you want them to work as they are intended and that means using them within their shelf life.

How to Check Makeup Expiration Dates

Most makeup and skincare products, if properly stored in a cool, dry place, have a two to three-year shelf life if unopened.

It may be difficult to tell when a product was made and whether it is expired (unless you took a deep dive into researching batch codes to determine when the product was made.)

Your best bet, given you purchased your products from a reputable retailer, is referring to the Period After Opening Label on the product’s packaging.

Products are given a PAO (Period After Opening) date, indicating how long the product will provide “optimal performance” after it is opened and exposed to air.

If you look at the product, you’ll notice a picture of an open jar with a number near it (EX 12M.)

As a rule of thumb, you should reference this as your makeup expiration date.

how to check expiration dates on makeup

is makeup shelf life the same as the period after opening (PAO)?

No, the shelf life and the period after opening are two different concepts.

  • Expiration Date — The shelf life of a product that is in its “unopened” primary container when maintained under the conditions of storage indicated on the product’s label.
  • Period After Opening — The period of time that a product remains suitable for use after its primary container has been opened when maintained under the storage conditions indicated on its labeling.

source: consumer testing product company

Other factors may play a role in altering the general guidelines for skincare and cosmetic product’s shelf life.

Humidity, sunlight, and warmer temperatures may contribute to accelerating product breakdown, or contribute to faster bacterial growth.

Pro Tip: Do not store cosmetics and skincare products inside your bathroom. The humidity from warm showers may create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Items that are not opened may have a longer shelf life. However, even the best preservatives do break down over time so you’re better off tossing it after 2-3 years.

Another thing to consider is the ingredients in your beauty products. Organic or natural cosmetics may lack preservatives and may expire sooner.

To help preserve your cosmetics, try storing them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

You may even invest in a makeup fridge to help extend the shelf life of your cosmetics or skincare products.

How Long Should You Keep Makeup?

Not all makeup is created equal so don’t treat it as such. Different formulations and application techniques will determine how long you should keep certain products.

For example, mascara is frequently exposed to air and may dry out. You should toss it out around the 3-month mark.

You want to play it safe with products you apply around the delicate eye area because you could risk getting a sty or eye infection.

Products such as pencil eyeliners and lip liners may last a bit longer because they require constant sharpening.

Here’s a makeup expiration dates chart to help you stay on top of your inventory.

Print this Chart HERE

How To Extend Your Cosmetics’ Shelf Life

While there is no way to extend the shelf life of your cosmetics, there are some things you can do to help them last the entire duration.

Here are some things to remember to ensure your cosmetics last as long as they should:

  • don’t share makeup with anyone
  • wash your hands before application
  • wash your makeup brushes and sponges regularly (at least once a week)
  • store cosmetics in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight

Aside from being a potential health risk, you’ll notice expired makeup smells, look, or feel different.

Your pressed powders may be too compact to get any product. Your foundation may separate (actually happened to my Estee Lauder Double Wear), or you’ll notice a funky smell.

Pro Tip: As soon as you open a package, look at the chart and write the month and year that the product is set to expire. Then, once a month, review your inventory and toss what is old.

I hope these tips and suggestions are helpful. I know I need to be a bit more vigilant when it comes to my makeup.

Make sure you are sharing this information with a friend, or better yet, share this article on your social media, and don’t forget to tag me!


This post was all about makeup expiration dates.

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