Shelf Life of Makeup : Cosmetics & When They Expire

Cosmetics aren’t meant to last forever, but some products might seem like it because they’re sold in bulk or in giant packages. And if you like to buy makeup in bulk and/or try out new products on a regular basis like me, then your cosmetics collection really starts to build up. Eventually, you could have an entire drawer full of makeup and items that you either don’t use or that you’re keeping from high school because they bring you a sense of nostalgia. But even if you like collecting makeup, there is definitely a time to throw it away, and each piece has its own expiration date.

The most common ways to tell if a makeup item has worn out its welcome is by smelling for foul scents, feeling for dry textures, or if you simply can’t remember how long you’ve had it. If you’re holding on to makeup from 4 or 5 years ago, the odds are not in your favor, and you should introduce it to the trash can! That being said, here is a thorough guide to help you decide which makeup items can stay, and which ones have to go.

Does Makeup Expire? The Shelf Life of Cosmetics

Beauty Products : How Long Do They Last?

If you ever wonder how long you should keep your mascara, what’s the shelf life of your lip gloss or if does lipstick even expire? Here are some answers to those questions…


Blush keeps for about 18 months, but if your blush is still holding strong, and not drying out or becoming hard, it’s safe to use for a little while longer.


Concealer is used to hide all of the discolored problem areas on your face, neck or chest, and is essential for most women. Fortunately, you may not have to worry about it becoming hard, dried-out, gooey or runny. But just in case you’ve had your concealer for a long time, you should know that its average shelf life is between a year and 18 months.

Cream Blush

This adds a subtle glow to your cheeks, and in some cases, can be used for more than one purpose. Be careful after about 12-18 months of using this product because it may become difficult to use, and/or develop an unpleasant smell, it’s great time to call it ‘expired’!


Makeup powder is used for keeping oil at bay, and for setting liquid concealer and foundation, but it can also be used as a foundation itself. With a shelf life of 2 years, powders are some of the longest-lasting cosmetic products a woman has, and they certainly give you more than your money’s worth!

Gel and Cream Cleansers

These won’t be wasted, I’m sure. Gel cleansers are meant for oily, normal or combination skin types, and cream cleansers work best for dry skin since they leave skin feeling hydrated after you rinse the cleanser off. If you’ve been experimenting with cleansers, you’ll be glad to know that they’re good for about 12 months.

Pencil Eyeliner

If you’ve been keeping pencil eyeliner for what seems like an eternity, it should be sharpened on a regular basis. Assuming you’re keeping it sharpened and keeping your sharpener clean as well, your pencil eyeliner should last an amazing 3 years maximum; that is if you haven’t used it all up by then.


The big makeup product that comes in small packages with large price tags is eyeshadow. And it’s no wonder why the price of eyeshadow can reach well into the $60 dollar range because it’s such a crucial part of defining the eye. The rulebook says to toss it out after only 3 years; however, most women will turn their noses up at this statement. Beware though that if you’re part of this group, un-kept eyeshadow becomes dry, cracked, and can develop bacteria if you use dirty brushes or fingers.

Makeup Brushes

– These last for a very long time if maintained properly. Clean your makeup brushes and eye makeup brushes 1-2 times weekly. Avoid getting water or brush cleaner in the ferrule or metal piece that holds the bristles and handle together. Getting water in the ferrule will loosen the bristles and cause the brush to slowly deteriorate.

If your makeup brushes are scratchy or losing bristles, it’s time to replace them with new makeup brushes. Assuming you’re using cosmetic sponges or pads, take the time to wash them weekly as well. Sponges and pads usually begin to fall apart or feel dingy within 30 days, so it’s recommended to replace them with new ones.


Foundation gives your face a smooth and clear complexion, but the shelf life depends on the formulation of the foundation.

Water-based foundations last about a year, while oil-based foundations can last up to 18 months.

Interestingly enough, there are things you can do to increase your foundation’s lifespan. For instance, if it happens to become dry between the changing seasons, add a small amount alcohol-free toner to your water-based foundation. Shake the foundation and toner well, and you’re ready to apply. Oil-based foundations will separate naturally, so all you need to do is shake them up and voila!

Image of makeup products

Lip liners

Lip liners are great and last up to 3 years! To save yourself a lot of hassle, only buy pencil lip liners since the push-up or mechanical lip liners often break off, which is wasteful. Also, the push-up and mechanical lip liners dry out quicker than a lip liner pencil that you sharpen.


Your lipsticks can stay in your makeup bag for 1-4 years. An easy way to tell if your lips’ best friend has checked out is by smelling the tube; assuming the lipstick smells foul, then it’s time to kick it to the curb. If you’re concerned with your lipstick’s life draining rapidly, store it in the refrigerator because this has been proven to lengthen lipstick’s shelf life.


This has a well-known reputation for spoiling fast, and it’s true since the average mascara only lasts 3-4 months. To increase the life of your mascara, avoid taking the wand in and out multiple times for application since doing this exposes the product to the air, which dries it out.

Nail Polish

The problem with nail polish is that it becomes goopy and difficult to open when left alone for too long. It’s a stubborn product that needs a lot of attention if you want it to last longer than a year. Shake your nail polishes up a couple of times a month, unscrew the cap slightly, then screw it back shut, and you’ll have a greater chance of making your nail colors last! Since nail polish is based on solvents, no bacteria can grow inside of the bottle as long as you’re storing it tightly-closed and well-shaken. Even so, you can bring some nail polishes back to life by adding a small amount of polish thinner to products that become too thick. You can find these at most beauty supply stores.

Does makeup expire? It certainly does! It might be easy to notice with some products, but that’s not always the case. Before you apply makeup again, just take a look if it still has its value.

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