Does makeup expire? It sure does. Here’s a reminder of when to chuck that old foundation, mascara and other items in your beauty kit.
As a beauty enthusiast I love to hoard makeup. I want to try it all, and in every colour! Even though I learn more tips and tricks on this topic – from professionals and from my fellow media editors – than the average consumer does, I sometimes forget that makeup expires and beauty products do go bad. At best, they stop performing as well as they used to and at worst, they can cause irritations or infections.
“Unopened, well-formulated cosmetics can remain stable for a couple of years at room temperature,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist at Cosmetech Laboratories in New Jersey. “But the clock starts once you bring a product home and open it. When air hits the formula, certain ingredients start to oxidize and degrade. Every time you touch your makeup or skin-care lotions and potions, you transfer germs to them.”
After recently cleaning out my own personal makeup kit (think two garbage bags full of old, used and unused products) I decided it was time to compile a reminder list of expiry dates for each category of products. A general rule of thumb to remember is that liquids can expire anywhere from 3 to 6 month, while powders can last up to 2 years.
Mascara – 3 MONTHS
Out of all the makeup categories, mascara has the shortest life span. Because you are transferring the wand from your eye back into the tube daily, bacteria runs the risk of forming into the formulation and can cause irritation and infection. Once the package has been opened and usage begins, your mascara’s lifespan ends after 3 months. Plus, if you’re using one that’s old, the formulation won’t be at its best, it will stop going on in a smooth.
Pro Tip: To prolong the life of your mascara, avoid pumping the wand in the tube before use. Pumping air into the tube causes the formulation to dry out faster. Instead, draw out and twist the brush to grab the product in one swoop.
Eyeliner – Liquid 3 MONTHS, Pencil 2 YEARS
Just like mascara, any liquid formulation has a shorter life span, as bacteria tend to flourish in these environments. Liquid eyeliner therefore has a shorter lifespan, 3 months, than a pencil version, which has a longer shelf life of 2 years. Why? With a pencil you can continuously provide a clean surface through sharpening. (NOTE: Ensure you clean the sharpener!).
Lipstick – 1 YEAR
Even though it’s generally stated that lipsticks (in stick form) can last up to 1 year, because they have water content and travel with you everywhere, they may have a shorter lifespan. One way to tell if your lipstick’s number is up is performance (is the colour lacklustre?) and smell. Does it smell musty and stale? If so, chuck it.
Eyeshadow – 1 - 2 YEARS
Powders, unlike liquids, are less prone to contamination because they lack moisture and can stand up to every day usage as long as two years. But with time, your pigments will fade and you’ll find that the shadow may not be giving you the pop of colour you once loved.
Foundation makeup – Liquids 6 MONTHS, Powders 2 YEARS
Over time, liquid foundations that are past their prime will go on streaky and won’t blend into the skin because the oils begin to separate making the product thick and gooey. The short expiry date on these products is due to bacteria build up that is caused through the application process: dipping brushes into the product, transferring to the face, and vice versa. Powders have a longer shelf life because bacteria can’t grow where there’s no water.