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Is It Time to Dump Your Makeup?

When's the last time you cleaned out your makeup bag? Most makeup products do not list manufacturing or expiration dates so how do you know when it’s time to toss an item? In the United States there are no laws or regulations regarding the shelf life or expiration dates of cosmetics. The FDA considers determining a product's shelf life to be a part of the manufacturer's responsibility. In today's blog I'm going to give you a few recommendations based on my research (thank you Google!) and experience in the makeup industry over the last 28 years.

Old products can irritate skin or eyes. Expired products may cause rashes, bumps, burning sensations, swelling, itchiness, and redness. According to experts, makeup typically has a 3 year shelf life - unopened. However, once it’s opened, each specific type of product will have a different recommended toss date, depending on the formula and where and how it’s used. Each time you use a product air gets in which exposes it to dirt and bacteria. Using fingers and dirty applicators also contribute to germs being introduced into your makeup. And products containing water are at a higher risk of bacterial contamination. The more moisture the product has or the closer it comes to your eyes the shorter the life span. A rule of thumb is that a cream or liquid product will expire faster but powder makeup will typically last a bit longer. Exposing products to heat and sun can also shorten the shelf life.

How can you tell if a product is past it’s prime and should be thrown away? With cosmetics such as mascara you know when it's time to replace as it gets dried out and flakey. But it's not always that easy to know exactly when to toss an item in the trash. Other indicators that a product is expired is if the product has a foul odor or you see separation or changes in texture. Products that include SPF will almost always have an expiration date listed on the package. It is important to toss these items if they are past the date listed as the ingredients may no longer be effective. It may be harder to determine when other items are ready to be trashed, such as powder cosmetics that seem to last forever. According to everything I've researched and my many years of experience, no cosmetic should ever be used after 3 years of opening. So it really is time to throw away that makeup you've had since the mid-2010's. I promise it's okay to finally let it go! If you apply a cosmetic and experience any kind of irritation you should discontinue using the product. For any serious reactions contact a dermatologist.

So that you don't have to spend hours of your life on Google trying to figure out exactly when each type of makeup expires, I did the work for you. Here's a comprehensive list of the most comment types of cosmetics and exactly when you should toss them after they've been opened. I've included a printable worksheet at the end of the blog.

Brow Products - 1 year

Concealer - 6 to 12 months


Cream - 1 year

Powder - 2 years


Cream - 12 to 18 months

Powder - 2 years

Bronzer - 18 months


Gel - 3 to 6 months

Liquid - 3 to 6 months

Waterproof- 3 to 6 months

Wooden Pencils - 1 year


Cream - 6 to 12 months

Liquid - 6 to 12 months

Powder - 1 to 2 years

Finishing Spray - 1 year


Liquid/Cream - 1 year

Powder - 2 years


Liquid - 6 to 12 months

Powder - 1 to 2 years

Lip Gloss - 6 to 12 months

Lip Liner - 1 to 2 years

Lipstick - 2 years

Mascara - 3 to 6 months


Eyeshadow - 6 to 12 months

Face - 12 to 18 months

Setting Powder - 12 to 18 months

Knowing that most makeup is good for two years or less once it's opened, it's a good idea to keep your makeup collection only to the products you use regularly. Since most cosmetics do not list expiration dates, you could take a Sharpie and write the date you first used the item on the bottom of the product or keep a list in your vanity. When we continually purchase more and more makeup the odds of us using it all up before it expires is pretty slight. In my last blog I wrote about building a makeup capsule wardrobe. This allows me to not only streamline my routine and save time each morning, but it will also help me save money as I won't be continually throwing away partially used products. If you haven't cleaned your makeup drawer or bag out in the last 6 months, this weekend is a great time to do that. Toss anything that's past its prime or you haven't used in the last year. And when you're ready to build your very own makeup capsule wardrobe contact me to schedule a free consultation.

Makeup Shelf Life
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