Beauty How-To: Make-up Expiration Dates

Despite that fact that I’m make-up obsessed, I am definitely not a beauty hoarder. You wouldn’t eat oranges infiltrated with mould, from the fridge, right? (If you would, then please stop reading. This article probably wouldn’t apply to you). If so, you shouldn’t apply expired, old cosmetic products to your face, unless infections, irritation and conjunctivitis really are your thing.

All cosmetic products have a shelf-life or expiry date. This refers to the time period AFTER which the product has been opened. This is because once the seal is broken, bacteria and other nasties from the air, your fingers or brushes will enter the product. From then on, bacteria will replicate, increasing over time.

Some products are more susceptible than others. Liquid products, especially those with a cream or oil emulsions generally go bad faster, as the moisture encourages the bacteria make happy families at an accelerated rate. Eyeshadow, powder blush are dry, and tend to last longer for this reason.

Most products have an ‘expiry’ guildline after the product is opened. It’s shown in the form of a small symbol, resembling a jar with an open lid, and a number, e.g. 6M. The ‘M’ refers to the number of months that the product will be safe to use.

Here is a general guideline for products:


These are generally safe to keep longer, as they are dry and inhibit the growth of bacteria.


Often oils/silicones/waxes are incorporated into the product to give a slick feel, hence the shorter shelf-life.


Avoid sticking your greasy, crumb-laden fingers into the lip of the bottle to grab product. Pour the product onto your palm/foundation brush, or use a cotton bud. If you’ve got the Seriously Lazy Gene like me, only buy a foundation with a pump.

• LIPSTICK: 16-24 months


Don’t forget to sharpen these regularly, this will remove the surface bacteria and expose fresh product.


• LIPGLOSS: 12 months

I prefer to buy lipgloss in the squeezy tubes for hygiene reasons. Though the ones with applicators are particularly snazzy looking – hello, Chanel Glossimers, every time you apply the lipgloss from the wand, you also scrape all sorts of stuff off your lips, and straight back into the tube. This could include old lipgloss and ipstick, skin, bread crumbs, cornflakes or dried barbeque sauce. Yum. Not!

• MASCARA: 3-4 months

The ultra-super-dooper important one! Mascara is one cosmetic you simply cannot keep for more than 4 months. It has a moist, dark environment, and simply perfect for germs.

Every time you apply the product, you are also transferring bacteria back into the tube. And since you apply it particularly close to your eyeballs, the likelihood of nasties leaping from the old mascara/mascara brush into your poor eyes is highly likely, leaving you with infections such as conjunctivitis.

Don’t even think about adding water to your dried-out mascara, that’s like feeding the bacteria an a-la-carte banquet. And I’ve heard the excuses before: ‘‘But, my mascara isn’t finished yet! I only use my mascara once a month. I buy expensive mascara! It’s limited edition!’’ If this is the case, try to buy more budget-friendly mascaras or purchase sample/trial size tubes from the more expensive brands.

You only have two eyeballs, and they’re pretty hard to replace.

• MAKEUP BRUSHES: Wash every 1-2 weeks with baby shampoo.

• MAKEUP SPONGES AND FINGERS: Replace weekly, or when sponge or fingers become soiled. Just kidding, this only refers to the sponges.

These are JUST ESTIMATES, read your labels and packaging, and use common sense! If your products look different, smell different or have an altered texture, don’t be afraid to bin it.

Don’t forget to store your products in a clean, dry, and dark environment. Avoid the bathroom at all costs, as steam = moisture and temperate changes.



  • Reply dj23249 Sunday 24th February, 2013 at 5:46 am

    Wow I never really thought to consider the dates

  • Reply BellaB Saturday 8th December, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Useful information.

  • lanalang
    Reply lanalang Sunday 28th October, 2012 at 9:35 am


  • Reply betelgeuse Tuesday 9th October, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Hmm, I’ve had my mascara for a year… better get a new one!

  • Reply Senorita Tuesday 2nd October, 2012 at 8:52 am

    good to know

  • Reply vikki18 Friday 21st September, 2012 at 10:44 am


  • Reply cadam Wednesday 1st August, 2012 at 11:11 am

    great info

  • Reply sarahleeshanshan Sunday 17th June, 2012 at 9:00 pm


  • Reply locapez Tuesday 29th May, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I think everything I own is expired! 🙁

  • Reply BellaB Thursday 3rd May, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Very handy – I know I have a few things lurking that I should chuck.

  • Reply kiccules Tuesday 14th February, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for the info- note to self throw out my mascara stat

  • Reply shell0606 Sunday 29th January, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Oh!.. Clean up time

  • Reply mandystsai1 Thursday 26th January, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I never knew they had expiry dates…

  • Reply ethereal Wednesday 18th January, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Great tips! You can definitely get some nasty infections from old mascara (or sharing mascara)

  • flossyfewclothes
    Reply flossyfewclothes Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    ……very interesting…

  • Reply leighbonello Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Wow I think I’m going to throw out my foundation now and get a get one.

  • Reply whatsupmonkey Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I thought mascara was good for a year. Oh well.

  • Reply laurenchock Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    ah feeling inspired to do a super big make up clean out. interesting about the mascara too..

  • kailaferrelli
    Reply kailaferrelli Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 11:56 am


  • Reply fifi73 Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Hmm great article, and it’s reminded me that I need to go through my make up too….

  • Reply Tashie Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Looks like im a makeup hoarder too!!

  • Reply darling Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 9:44 am


  • Reply juliew Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 9:37 am

    great thanks

  • Reply aalana Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Thanks for the advice!

  • Reply thugsy Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Useful information 🙂

  • Reply doogs Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I’m guilty of keeping expired beauty products

  • Reply bardie Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I never check expiration dates 🙁

  • Reply midnightstarfish Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Thanks for the info!

  • Reply tessarella Tuesday 17th January, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Great advice, it’s made me realize how I need to chuck some things out

  • Reply i-n-u-r-e Monday 16th January, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Wow, looks like it’s time to clear out my make up bag!

  • Reply ladadidah Monday 16th January, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    ack, time to buy new mascara.

  • Fashionista8P
    Reply Fashionista8P Monday 16th January, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    i am so badat expiry dates 🙁

  • Reply punkemohardcore Monday 16th January, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I don’t like these rules. I don’t particularly want my eyeballs to fall out, but I probably wear mascara less than once every 3-4 months so it seems like such a waste to just chuck it out.

  • Reply qwysycl Monday 16th January, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    totally agree, I’m a clean freak and nothing irks me more than old makeup

  • Reply chris Monday 16th January, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    wouldn’t mind replacing my fingers lol

  • sommy7
    Reply sommy7 Monday 16th January, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I never knew mascara had such a short life

  • newbie
    Reply newbie Monday 16th January, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    thanks for the info!

  • Reply sappheire Monday 16th January, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Using disposable mascara brushes protects your mascara longer

  • Reply Crystal Monday 16th January, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    hmmmm <3

  • Reply MsKimo Monday 16th January, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for this, bookmarked to make sure I’m not using products that aren’t at their full potential.

  • Reply Xiaxiao Monday 16th January, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    heard this before yet i’ve kept my makeup well over their supossed expirey date and haven’t had a problem yet. Though I do clean the top of my foundation bottle with hand sanitiser (i do the same before on my hands when i use it)

  • GoodThanks
    Reply GoodThanks Monday 16th January, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Also worth noting that nail polish expires in 1 year. I’ve had some of mine for about 5 years and still use them. Can’t say I completely follow all the rules..I keep eyeshadows and lipsticks.. Foundations are generally used before exp. But it’s so expensive to be throwing out and replenishing my huge polish or lippie collection!

  • ivysaurus
    Reply ivysaurus Monday 16th January, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I’m such a massive hoarder haha but I really should cleanout some of my makeup

  • Reply chrystal Monday 16th January, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    very handy to know

  • Reply dapperdolly Monday 16th January, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Very good article, it’s just hard to let go of items when you can’t find the same colour replacements!

  • Reply KNY Monday 16th January, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Great tips – but oh how hard is it to throw away old favourites!

  • Reply ichigolove01 Monday 16th January, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Great tips! But I must admit that I am a makeup hoarder…

  • Reply lauralai Monday 16th January, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    This makes me embarrassed to admit how old some of my make up is! Time for a cleanout

  • Zoe93
    Reply Zoe93 Monday 16th January, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I’ve always been very careful, I leant from my mother, it really does make such a difference!

  • Reply Whatthe Monday 16th January, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t have time for all that cleaning – I just keep buying new brushes!

  • andthebirds
    Reply andthebirds Monday 16th January, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    are there expiry dates on make up products?

  • Reply traanster Monday 16th January, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Great advice. Thanks! 🙂

  • Myra
    Reply myra00 Monday 16th January, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Some good tips here, mascara is the only one I come near getting close to the expiry date so I buy a less expensive brand as I don’t use it that often, or sometimes I buy magazines that have sample mascaras!

  • Reply mandystsai1 Monday 16th January, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Wow. Thanks for telling us this. A lot of mine needs to be chucked out!

  • Reply medeirose Monday 16th January, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    love it!

  • Reply JENNIFAARRH Monday 16th January, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    i dont like these rules 🙁

  • Reply krisbrink Monday 16th January, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I have heard that wiping off your eye shadow, blush etc with a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol on it can also prevent bacteria growth.

  • Reply xoxoMayy Monday 16th January, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    wow looks like my makeup bag needs some spring cleaning and splurge!

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