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Does Makeup Expire? How to Read Makeup Expiration Dates

How to Read Makeup Expiration Dates (Because Yes, It Expires)

Photographer: Matthew Kelly● Expires: No Expiration● Restrictions: Internal and editorial use approved. OK for Native and co-branded use. Must give product credits where applicable● Product Credits: Pat McGrath Labs eyeshadow palette, Rare Beauty liquid blush, Pat McGrath Labs lipstick, Pat McGrath Labs lip balm, Athena Club body lotion, Fenty Beauty lip color, Paddywax perfume,Beauty,Comb,Hair Accessories,Perfume,Makeup,Eyeshadow,Jewelry,Eyelash Curler,Lipstick,Brush,Serum,Mirror,Self CareImage Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Matthew Kelly

  • Makeup products, as well as skin-care and hair-care products, have expiration dates.
  • Like food, makeup can store bacteria, which is why replacing it regularly is important.
  • Here, you'll learn how to tell if your makeup is expired and you need to throw it away.

Like the food in your fridge, the makeup in your bathroom goes bad after a while. Even though a swipe of day-old lipstick doesn't warrant a trip to the hospital like food poisoning does, expired makeup can wreak havoc in its own way. Though it can be tedious, there are ways to check if your makeup has gone bad and it's time to throw it away.

Why Makeup Expiration Dates Matter

If you're not careful, using expired makeup products, like old mascara, can cause skin irritation, breakouts, eye infections, and more. Fortunately, the expiration dates on your makeup products depend on the first day you use them, not the purchase date. Despite this caveat, it's best to follow what the product label says.

How to Read Expiration Dates on Makeup

If you're wondering what the expiration date on a makeup product looks like, here's a simple breakdown. Regardless of what store you purchase your favorite products from, all makeup should be stamped with an image of an open jar, then a number followed by the letter "M." This is the "period after opening" (PAO) sign that lets consumers know how many months after opening until the product expires.

Using a Cosmetics Calculator

Another way to tell if your makeup has expired is to use a cosmetics calculator. This will help you determine the manufacture date of cosmetics by the batch code or lot number. There are websites out there, like, that allow you to look up your products by filling out just a few questions, putting your mind at ease on whether or not your makeup has expired.

How to Tell If Makeup Is Expired

Still not completely sure if your product has gone bad? Here are some red flags regarding old makeup. If a product is beginning to develop a seriously funky odor, it's time for it to go. Make sure the caps on all your products are secured after use, and store makeup in a cool, dry place. The FDA stresses that "a product's safety may expire long before the expiration date if the product has not been properly stored."

This does go both ways, though. Storing makeup in desirable environments, like lipstick in the refrigerator, can keep them fresh after the expiration date. Something else to keep in mind: don't "pump" your mascara wand in and out of the tube. All you're doing is forcing air in, causing the product to break down faster. Pencil eyeliners and lip liners last longer when sharpened regularly. If you have trouble remembering exactly how old a product is, use a permanent marker to write the date that you opened it on the bottom of its case for easy reference.

What Happens to Makeup When It Expires?

Unlike food, the signs of makeup expiring may not be obvious. For example, nail polishes are no longer good when they begin to separate. For makeup tools like sponges and brushes that don't exactly have expiration dates, it can be even harder to tell when they've gone bad. Makeup sponges should be cleaned daily, but it's best to toss them after two weeks of use. Makeup brushes, on the other hand, should be cleaned once a week.

To ensure you don't use your makeup past its expiration date, keep this chart on hand and count from the day you broke the seal on the product to tell if it's still good:

Product When to toss
Powder (including blush, bronzer, and shadow) 2 years
Cream shadow and blush 12-18 months
Oil-free foundation 1 year
Cream compact foundation 18 months
Concealer 12-18 months
Lipstick and lip liner 1 year
Lip gloss 18-24 months
Pencil eyeliner 2 years
Liquid or gel eyeliner 3 months
Mascara 3 months

— Additional reporting by Naomi Parris

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Matthew Kelly
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