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How Often Should You Replace Your Makeup?

Keep Your Skin Clean and Clear by Following These Tips on When to Toss Your Old Products!


Out-of-date makeup can often be recognized by its mannerisms, such as clumpy mascaras and permanently separated liquid foundations. Even lip colors that have a funny smell may be past their prime.

After all, when was the last time you wore that frosted pink lipstick? If it’s been a while, perhaps it’s time to declutter your makeup bag.

Even though makeup usually lasts a long time (up to two years), there are some things you should do if you want your products to last even longer. If you use expired makeup, it can cause skin problems, blemishes, and the product might not work at all.

We’re here to help you understand why makeup expires, how it does so, and what measures can be taken to increase its shelf life.

Does Makeup Actually Expire?

Although some products, such as mineral loose powders, can last forever, other makeup will start to expire and lose potency over time, like lip color or mascara.

The number of months a product will last once it has been opened is denoted with a symbol that looks like an open jar. This number can be found on the packaging of most products. 

Not only should you pay attention to the expiration date on your product packaging, but you should also educate yourself about the ingredients that are included in the products.

Many products contain large amounts of preservative ingredients to extend their shelf-life, but this often poses its own dangers.

Why Do Cosmetics Expire?

Factors in your environment, much like food, make a newly opened product spoil. This is why most products have suggestions for when they should be used by.

Even if you take care of your products (washing brushes, using clean hands, etc.), there may be other things that are causing them to go bad without you knowing.

  • Even if you clean your brushes, sponges, or fingers before every use, you are still transferring bacteria onto your product each time you apply it. For example, when you dip a brush back into loose powder after using it on your face, you are also transferring bacteria from your face to the powder. Depending on the ingredients of the product, bacteria can cause it to spoil quickly.
  • Have you ever noticed that your once-favorite liquid foundation now resembles a grade school science experiment gone wrong (oil and water have separated)? This is due to ingredient instability, which renders the product less effective over time. In nature, oil and water do not mix; similarly, in the cosmetic industry, when these two ingredients separate, it creates an undesirable product. However, brands add emulsifiers to their products so that opposing ingredients will mix.
  • Once you’ve opened a new cosmetic product, it’s immediately exposed to oxygen, which then starts the oxidation process. This is similar to what happens when you leave a cut apple sitting out—it turns brown because of the oxygen exposure.

Makeup products often don’t last as long as we want them to for a plethora of reasons, from accidentally leaving a product open, not using it regularly, to (the most common reason) simply because they’ve expired.

Does Makeup with More Natural Ingredients Deteriorate Quicker?

In short, yes. And this is actually a good thing because it means the product contains safe and natural ingredients that work well with your skin. It’s similar to food—would you want to eat a salad that’s been sitting out for two weeks?

When using a product, you ideally want it to be at the peak of its healing properties. That being said, fresher ingredients, airtight containers, and the proper preservation system are all important factors to consider when choosing a skincare product.

Natural makeup with food-grade ingredients will spoil over time, just like real, whole foods. Look for brands that use living ingredients that are as close to their natural state as possible and raw ingredients, like unrefined, organic coconut oil that is cold centrifuged.

This guarantees a raw and living product that preserves the natural life force of the oil.

When you use cosmetics that are the cleanest in the industry, you can be confident that the ingredients in your products aren’t harmful to either your body or the environment.

Many products contain synthetic ingredients to prolong their shelf life, such as synthetic preservatives, alcohols, and antioxidants. Talcs, clays, minerals, and diatomaceous earth can also extend freshness, but they have the undesired side effect of drying your skin and causing premature aging over time.

Drying agents make the product last longer on the skin, but they strip away your natural oils in the process, which has a drying effect that ages the skin over time.

Natural brands use ingredients that have preservative qualities, like natural preservatives specially formulated with the clean beauty market in mind. This natural approach guarantees that the ingredients are always fresh and food-grade while maintaining as much of their original state as possible–including any preserving properties they may have.


How Can You Tell It’s Expired?

You can check if a product is still usable by looking for the manufacturer’s expiration date on the packaging. If you’ve lost the packaging, though, don’t worry! There are other ways to tell if a product has gone bad. These include:

  • A typical issue is that colors may change, and this effect is caused by light exposure (from both the sun and artificial sources). To prevent this, it’s advised to store your oils in a dark location.
  • Bad smell. Although coconut oil has a natural shelf life of 2–3 years, the scent of other oils can fade after only 1-3 months.
  • Have changed texture or separated.

If any of the aforementioned are true of your makeup products, then they have already expired and should be thrown away.

Even though waterless products can last up to two years, outside factors such as humidity can make them go bad faster.


The Lifespan Of Makeup Products

You don’t have the product packaging anymore, but you’re fairly certain you’ve had it for a while. How can you tell if it’s still usable? Here’s a helpful guide to set your mind at ease.


While a lipstick typically lasts 12 to 24 months, it can go bad sooner if it doesn’t have preservatives or if it’s improperly stored. Additionally, because lipstick is used on the lips (an area that is usually moist), it can harbor bacteria more easily than other makeup products.

However, you’ll know if your lipstick has gone bad because it will smell and look different than when it was first applied.

If your lipstick starts to smell waxy, it’s time to replace it. Most manufacturers add a fragrance or essential oil to cover up the waxiness, but in most cases, it’s best to promptly replace the product. Rancid oils can cause premature aging, and nobody wants that!


If unopened and well stored, a liquid primer will last for around one to two years. However, the ingredients inside the primer become unstable after that time, so it’s best to replace your product if you haven’t used it all yet.

Additionally, since primers usually contain water, they are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria, which may cause blemishes on your skin, so using an old bottle of primer is really not wise.

Liquid Foundation

Primers and liquid foundations both have a shelf-life of 6 to 24 months. If your foundation contains raw ingredients, it might expire sooner; however, you won’t be exposing yourself to potential toxins found in preservatives.

Once your foundation has separated, changed colors, or smells bad, it becomes ineffective and can actually cause blemishes.

Powdered Foundation

Your foundation will last much longer if you take proper care of it and use clean brushes. If stored correctly, a powdered foundation can last up to 24 months or until the end of its use.

Mineral powder has an indefinite shelf life as long as it’s used with clean brushes and kept away from moisture, which destroys most makeup products by changing their consistency.


The average person will use their favorite concealer for 6–24 months, but this largely depends on the ingredients. Liquid concealers only last for a year before expiring.

Although they are meant to cover blemishes, using an expired one can actually cause breakouts.


Mascara should always be replaced every three months, at the very latest, if it lasts that long. There’s no possible way to keep bacteria from getting into your mascara tube, which can cause an eye infection if applied on the lash line.

In this instance, it isn’t necessarily that the product expires in quality, but rather the likelihood of infection from using it.

Liquid Eyeliner

The average lifespan of liquid eyeliner is 2–3 months, regardless of the formula (gel, cream, etc.). Keep in mind that this product goes close to your eye; thus, it’s never safe to spread bacteria around that area.

To help lengthen its shelf life and keep you protected from bacteria, avoid lining the inner corner of your eye.

Pencil Eyeliner

Did you know that pencil eyeliners are more effective and last longer than liquid ones? You can regularly sharpen a pencil to rid it of bacteria, which also preserves the product’s safety. In fact, a pencil liner will usually last up to 12 months.

Brow (Powder and Pencil)

Just like eye pencils, brow powders and pencils can last up to twelve months. To get the most use out of your products, sharpen the pencil regularly and use a clean brush with your powder.

Powder Eyeshadow

To get the most out of your eyeshadow, plan on replacing it every 12–24 months. Not only can the pigments change over time, but if you don’t use a clean brush, oils from your skin will transfer to the product and change its texture.

If your eyeshadow palette shatters, you can use a bit of alcohol to hold the powder together and increase its lifespan.

Cream Eyeshadow

Shadows made with cream last up to one year, while those made with natural ingredients should be used sooner – within this time frame – to prevent the deterioration of said items.

Natural BB Cream

Your Makeup Will Last Longer with These Tips

If your makeup is beginning to expire, don’t fret! There are easy ways to make it last much longer.

  • Not only can you extend the shelf-life of your living beauty products by storing them in the fridge, but you can also make them last longer by portioning out small amounts into smaller containers.
  • Lipstick and gloss will last longer and be less messy if kept away from humid or extreme temperatures.
  • You should also use clean sponges and brushes each time you apply your makeup to preserve the product’s ingredients.
  • Expired makeup is one of the main causes of breakouts. If you store your products in the fridge, they will last beyond the state’s specified time frame. However, for best results, let them come back to room temperature before using.

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