How to Know if Your Beauty Products Have Gone Bad
We’ve all opened a moisturizer or applied a lip gloss and had that feeling that something doesn’t look quite right. The color has changed, the consistency is off, or you actually find your skin being irritated after you apply it.
But you can’t bear to throw it away!
The jar is still half-full, or it’s your favorite lipstick, and even though your intuition is telling you something’s off, you dismiss that thought.
Surely it’s better to keep using this product until it’s finished instead of wasting it?
So, do makeup products actually have an expiry date? How do you know if your beauty products have gone bad? Do unopened makeup products expire? How can you check the expiry dates of your products? And is there any harm in using an expired product?
All great questions, and we’ll be answering them all in this article!
Here’s everything you need to know about makeup expiry dates.
How long do beauty products last?
There is no definitive blanket answer, but here’s a general guide for how long different types of beauty products last.
Makeup that you use around your eyes
Mascaras and liquid liners have the shortest shelf life and will generally last between three and six months before they need replacing. It’s really important you adhere to this to avoid any nasty eye infections.
Pencil eyeliners have a longer shelf life and can last up to a year. Sharpening your liners regularly will shave off any bacteria that has built up and help you avoid eye infections.
Water-based foundations can last up to a year while oil-based foundations have a slightly longer shelf-life lasting up to 18 months.
Depending on how fresh the ingredients are, moisturizers can last between six months to a year after being opened.
Eye creams, face masks & serums
These will all last between six months and a year.
A solid lipstick texture will last between one and two years, while liquid lipstick and lip gloss will generally last between six months to a year.
A lip liner can last up to a year and should be regularly sharpened the same way as an eyeliner.
Cream concealers and blushes can usually last between six months to a year.
Bronzers, powder blushes, powder foundations, and setting powder can all last up to two years.
Nail polish will last indefinitely if it’s unopened. But once opened, it will usually have a shelf life of two years. Around this time (or sooner) certain ingredients will begin to evaporate which will cause it to thicken.
Brushes can last a long time as long as they’re properly looked after. That means washing them every month to remove bacteria and build up.
How to check the expiry date of cosmetics
The best way to figure out if a beauty product is expired is to use your common sense.
Ask yourself the following questions: Does it look right? Does it smell right? Has the texture changed?
And check the expiration date—every tube or jar will have this clearly written on it.
What you’re looking for is the “period after opening” number. This will be written as “6M” or “12M” on the product somewhere. This essentially tells you how long you can use this product safely after you open it.
Usually, it will be fairly obvious if a product has gone off. For example, mascara will clog. Pencils will dry out. Creams and moisturizers will change in consistency or color and may even change in smell.
What to do with expired beauty products: If in doubt, throw it out!
Do unopened makeup products expire, or is this just an urban myth?
Most products on the market have a shelf life of over 30 months when left unopened. But this really depends on the product in question. As mentioned already, some products have active, unstable ingredients in them that go off quicker than other ingredients.
So you’d be wise to still practice caution before going ahead and using any product that has been hanging around in your beauty drawer for a while.
How to extend the shelf life of your beauty products
Did you know that the way you store your beauty products can actually extend their shelf life?
So, are you storing and looking after them the right way?
Here’s what NOT to do:
- Keep your makeup products somewhere humid (i.e. on a shelf in the bathroom)
- Keep them somewhere warm or in direct sunlight (on a windowsill)
- Dip dirty fingers, brushes, and sponges into your makeup pots
- Share your makeup with anyone else
This will encourage bacteria and mold to thrive, and wreak havoc with formulas.
Here’s what you should be doing to extend the life of your makeup:
- Keep your products somewhere cool, dark, and dry (not in the fridge though!)
- Clean your makeup tools regularly
- Use a tool to scoop out product instead of your fingers
- Wipe your lipstick after each use to remove bacteria
- Close lids and tops securely after using them
- Go for smaller product sizes if you find you’re not getting through them
How to keep your beauty products organized
As discussed, the period after opening symbol (PAO) is a great indication of how long a product will last before going bad. But sometimes, this will be located on a box and not on the actual product. On top of this, it’s difficult to remember when you bought and opened all your products!
To stay on top of things, add a small sticker to each product with a date on it for when you probably need to throw it out and replace it.
Can I still use expired beauty products?
What happens if you use expired makeup?
You might think there’s no harm in using an expired product, but you’d be wrong.
But the worst-case scenario is you can break out in spots, have an allergic reaction, or give yourself an infection.
A 2013 study found 70% of women used some type of expired product in their makeup routine—mostly eye makeup (mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow). The researchers sampled the eye makeup for contamination, and found that 67% of the products were contaminated!
It’s really not worth the risk ladies. Set aside a budget for investing in makeup as and when you need it and release the guilt of throwing away a half-used product.
Need a handy reminder when it’s time to replace your makeup?
Let’s be honest, life is hectic. In a perfect world, we’d all add expiry dates to our makeup products, and we’d always remember to replace them.
But most of us have so much going on that best practices like this get forgotten. That’s why we’ve created a handy subscribe and save makeup subscription option for all our products. You’ll save money on our makeup, and we’ll deliver a replacement product automatically at the time increments you choose!