Makeup Expiration Dates 101 – The Ultimate Guide

Most of us believe that expiry dates are only relevant to foods and disregard the same for almost every other product. This is a dangerous trend that is witnessed across the globe and requires attention. Time limits for which something can be consumed are printed on a lot of other items besides consumables like food and water. Makeup expiration dates are among these. 

In the US, there are no regulations that mandate printing of expiration dates on makeup products. This creates a bigger dilemma because even if you want to check the time when you need the chuck the product out, you can’t. Many people struggle to find a solution to this problem. Clinical and industry experts suggest that makeup products be used for an average duration between 3 months and a year. 

Makeup products are prone to bacterial contamination and general degradation of the ingredients used in it. It is important to care for what you apply to the outside of your body just as much as it is to focus on what goes inside. Different products have variable dates of expiry and this is why it is crucial that a little bit of research goes behind using them. It might hurt to throw away a slightly used item but it’s better than causing damage to the skin. 

Makeup Expiration Dates Guide

There is a wide variety of makeup products available these days. In general, makeup expiration dates vary between three months and a year. Not all products have these timelines printed on them so it pays to know how long something will last. Here, we will break down and discuss the average time after which a makeup product should be disposed of. There can be other visible signs that indicate the time to get rid of the item has come but in general, the duration suggested by experts helps. 


There is a constant debate about how long a mascara may last. Some suggest that it can go as long as 6 months but cosmetics experts believe that 3 months is more appropriate. Fact-finding studies by two Brazilian universities have shown that mascara begins to accumulate harmful bacteria. Within three months the buildup reaches an extent where it becomes unfit to apply on the skin. This is why the recommended time of usage is three months max. 

Liquid Foundation and Concealer – 6 to 12 months

For liquid foundation and concealers, the average expiry date is 6 to 12 months. The problem with makeup is that the ingredients in the product begin to breakdown. There can be other problems like the foundation doesn’t lay evenly on the skin. After application, its long lastingness is also affected. The preservatives in the concealer also start to degrade and as a result, bacteria starts to gather on it making it a health hazard rather than a beauty product.  

Cream Blush and Eyeshadow 

Creams have a relatively lower shelf life than powder products. For cream blush and eyeshadows, the makeup expiration date is 6 months. If you double dip or keep the container open for prolonged periods of time, the eye shadow can go bad in an even shorter time. There are ways to make makeup products last longer like using prescribed brushes for each item and keeping the bottles closed when not in use as well as some other steps. 

Powder Blush and Eyeshadow 

Powders generally last long and there is variation in what experts say about the healthy dates of powder blushes and eye shadow. Some believe that these items can last up to 2 years but the more soundly held notion is that they last for 1 year. You can use 70% rubbing alcohol to sanitize the makeup products so that they last longer. Keeping the brushes clean is another way to prolong the life of your powder blushes and eye shadows. Still, it is better that you not push it and dispose of the product within a year. 

Eyeliner and Lipliner Pencils

Pencil liners available for both your eyes and lips can be sharpened. Much like a normal pencil, the ability to shape a new tip every time means that the product can have a relatively longer shelf life than other products. Eyeliner and lipliner pencils can stay usable for up to 2 years. In this period if you witness physical evidence of mold or other damage, it is recommended that you chuck the product out even if it is not used too much. 

Liquid Eyeliner 

Liquid products generally last less than other items. This is why liquid eyeliner has the same expiry date as mascara, i.e. 6 months or less. The problem with liquid makeup products is that they are more prone to attracting contaminants and other elements that lower the shelf life. Also, liquid products can’t be protected with sterilization agents. Using clean brushes and being careful about leaving the liquid eyeliner exposed to air can preserve them for as long as the recommended shelf life. 


Although it may feel like a lipstick would be a hub for bacteria and contaminants because of the way it is used but research has shown that this is not exactly true. Lipstick doesn’t hold much bacteria and can last between 1 year and 18 months. Another reason why lipsticks remain contaminant-free is because of the many preservatives like essential oils, parabens and vitamins that are added to them. 

Moisturizers and Skin Care 

This is a relatively broad category. There is a lot that falls under this banner including face creams, sunscreen, anti-aging products and hair styling products etc. The average shelf life of these products also varies between six months to 2 years. Most moisturizers and skincare list the makeup expiry dates on the product. It is not mandatory but many manufacturers take the precaution of printing these dates on the products. In case they don’t, you need to chuck out face and eye creams in six months to a year, sunscreen and anti-aging products in under a year.   

How to Check the Expiration Dates on Makeup Products 

Using items beyond the makeup expiry date can lead to rashes, irritation and other infections of the skin. In order to avoid this, it is important to consider the time duration for which a product is good. Despite an absence of specific regulations with respect to printing expiry dates on makeup products, manufacturers indicate how long an item is good from the date on which it is opened. 

The expiry date on a makeup product is usually indicated on the label that contains the barcode. It is depicted through an open jar symbol. On the jar, there is a time duration given like 24M which represents 24 months. This is how long the product will last since you open the container. Of course, if the item is not used for a long time, the ingredients can degrade and other problems may arise in which case it is better to dispose of the product before the expiry period is up. 

Expiry Dates of Other Beauty Products and Toiletries

Although it may seem like makeup products as well as other toiletries like face wash, shampoo and toothpaste last forever if kept in sealed containers, research has shown otherwise. Once the airtight seal of the bottle is broken or even if it isn’t broken, the ingredients of the product begin to degrade over time. After a specific period, the effects of the item reverse which means that using them causing more harm than good. 

Here’s how long some of the other products on your dressing table and bathroom may last:


Alcoholic scents are one of the longest-lasting products on the shelf. Their airtight containers and presence of materials that don’t degrade easily over time prolong the time for which a perfume remains usable. These scents don’t expire in the same way as other products but using a perfume that has passed the ‘good-to-use’ date can cause rashes and skin irritation. A bottle of perfume can last anywhere between 3 to 5 years


Yes, makeup brushes also have expiry dates. The way in which these products are used, make them prone to contaminant buildup most of which remains invisible to the naked eye. After a certain time though, the accumulation reaches a point where it is unsafe to use. Also, the bristles on the brush can lose their composure after extended usage. There is no predefined time range in which a brush should be replaced but as soon as there are visible indicators of it going bad, that is the time you should buy a new one. 

Makeup sponges

The makeup sponge or beauty blender as it is also known falls under the same category as the brush and undergoes similar use. The typical lifespan of a makeup sponge is about 3 months and after this, ideally, these items should be replaced. Applying makeup using the same sponge over and over again can lead to skin damage, especially for people who have sensitive epidermis. 


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