Makeup expiration is often one of those hushed topics people try not to think about too much. After all, it feels almost criminal to part with that trendy eyeshadow palette you bought all those years ago or to bid farewell to the mascara that’s gifted you months of gorgeous, fluttery lashes. Makeup does expire, though, and replacing products that are past their prime can be important for skin health. Here’s the good news, though: Tossing expired makeup gives you an opportunity to do a little shopping, and that’s always a good time!
Related: How Long Do Makeup Brushes Last? 7 Signs It’s Time to Replace Yours
How to Find Makeup Expiration Dates
So how do you know if makeup has expired in the first place? We’ve got a little trick for that. Many cosmetics have a small symbol on the packaging that indicates when makeup expires after the product’s been opened. It looks like a tiny opened jar with a number followed by an “M,” which is short for “months.” For example, if it says “6M,” that means it’s good for six months once opened. Other products may have a date printed on the packaging that indicates when it was manufactured.
If you can’t locate the cosmetic expiration date on your skincare or makeup products, you can look for signs they’ve gone bad. Some you might notice include:
- Change in color for both powder and liquids
- Separation has occurred in liquid products
- Liquid products have become dried out or flakey
- The smell has changed
- Your skin breaks out or is irritated after using the product
You can also date the product yourself once it’s been opened so you know when the makeup does expire.
How Long Does Makeup Last?
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate makeup expiration, nor does it require retailers to list an expiration date. However, there are some general rules you can follow. Let’s dive into how long makeup is good for based on makeup type.
When Does Eyeshadow Expire?
Powder eyeshadow lasts up to two years, while cream or liquid eyeshadow should be discarded after six months. Ready for something new? Check out the internet-famous Superhero No-Tug Waterproof Eyeshadow Stick. It comes in 12 gorgeous, pigmented shades and features IT Cosmetics' exclusive No-Tug Technology™ for a supremely gentle application.
When Should You Throw Blush Away?
Similar to powder eyeshadow, powder blush lasts for up to two years, and cream and liquid blushes expire at the six-month mark. Bookmark this page and come back when you’re ready to toss and replace your old blush so you can get your hands on the Bye Bye Pores Blush. Not only does it lend a gorgeous flush of color every time, but it's infused with optical-blurring pigments and instantly diffuses the look of pores and imperfections.
How Long Does Foundation Last?
Oil-based foundations expire around 18 months and powder foundation can last up to two years. Depending on the formula, packaging, and usage, you may find yours needs replacing even sooner. Be on the lookout for signs of makeup expiration, which include change in color, consistency, and scent. Look for those signs in your concealer, too.
Did You Know? Packaging matters when shopping for foundation. The Cleveland Clinic notes that foundations in airtight pump packages will last longer compared to open jars that are consistently exposed to the elements. All IT Cosmetics liquid foundations are packaged this way.
We argue you can’t go wrong with the original, skin-loving CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50+. This full-coverage foundation formula features ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and sunscreen to visibly nourish, hydrate, and protect. For lighter coverage, try CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum with SPF 40. This medium-coverage foundation has a 90% skincare formula that delivers an instant healthy glow while visibly improving the skin over time.**
How Long Do Eyeliner & Mascara Last?
Products that come into close contact with your eyes have a shorter lifespan since they come with a greater risk of spreading bacteria to your eyes. Replace your mascara and liquid eyeliner every three months or sooner if the formula becomes dry or flaky. Never try to revive it with water or saliva; just head to the store and get yourself a shiny new tube.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pencil-style eyeliners, gel eyeliners, and lip pencils are good for up to a year. Sharpening them or clipping the tip off (if they’re retractable) is a good way to help keep them more sanitary.
If you’re in the market for replacements, try the lash-lengthening, nourishing formula of Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing and Lengthening Mascara. (Now available in a 24-hour waterproof formula!) For eyeliner, we recommend the Superhero Liquid Eyeliner Pen because it delivers an inky, smudge-proof cat eye every single time. More of an eye pencil person? The Superhero No-Tug Sharpenable Gel Eyeliner comes in eight high-impact shades that allow you to create limitless eye looks.
How Long Is Lipstick Good For?
Lipstick expires after one to two years. Since this product goes directly on your mouth, it’s important to toss lipsticks older than this. As for how long lip glosses last, you can keep ‘em around for six months to a year. Keeping the applicator and tube opening clean can help prolong the shelf life. If you develop a cold sore, it’s best to replace any and all lip items you’ve recently used.
When you’re ready for a replacement, Je Ne Sais Quoi Hydrating Lip Balm Treatment is one of those purse must-haves you'll reach for daily. Pillow Lips Solid Serum Lip Gloss is another excellent choice. Along with imparting a pretty flush of color, the formula features a blend of hyaluronic acid and moisturizing ingredients.
When Should You Replace Makeup Brushes?
When taken care of, makeup brushes can last for one to three years. Wash them weekly, or after each use if you reach for them infrequently. Some signs your makeup brushes are past their prime include frazzled bristles, broken pieces, bristles that are falling out, odd smells, or subpar application. Sometimes cleaning can help with this, but if they’re still in rough shape after a good wash, it’s officially time to say goodbye.
For replacements, consider the multitasking Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7—which features plush, dual-ends for liquid foundation and concealer—and Heavenly Luxe Wand Ball Powder Brush #8, which delivers an optical-blurring finish when used with powder products.
Related: How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes
While you’re thinking about keeping your skin looking gorgeous and healthy, take a sec to review whether you’re giving your skin barrier the TLC it deserves.
- “Shelf Life and Expiration Dating of Cosmetics.” Food & Drug Administration (FDA). 4 Mar. 2022. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling/shelf-life-and-expiration-dating-cosmetics.
- “When Should You Toss Your Makeup?” Cleveland Clinic, 13 Jan. 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/when-should-you-toss-your-makeup/.
- “Risks of Using Expired Makeup.” Mayo Clinic Health System, https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/risks-of-using-expired-makeup.
*The NPD Group/US Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Makeup Product Sales, January- December 2022.
**Based on expert grading after 4 weeks of use.