Does make-up expire and can you keep using it once the date has passed?

Aug 22, 2021
Like most good things, makeup doesn't last forever. Source: Getty

Can’t remember the last time you bought makeup? If you answered yes, your makeup drawers may be in need of a full-blown clean out.

Unfortunately, like all good things, make-up does have an expiration date and its lifespan may be shorter than you think. Here, Cher Donaldson, director at Alluring Minerals, explains how often you should update your beauty drawer and why old make-up products can wrack havoc on your skin.

Make-up expiration dates you need to know

Cher says liquid face makeup, such as foundation or concealer, should be replaced every six months. Powders, such as pressed mineral foundation, finishing powder, blush or eyeshadow, should be replaced every two years. Powder products have a longer shelf life because they don’t contain water, which means it’s harder for bacteria to grow.

Most of us are guilty of having a 10-year-old red lippy floating around the bottom of our handbag or bathroom draw, but Cher recommends tossing them as lipsticks, glosses and lipliner should be replaced every two years as well.

One of the products with the shortest shelf life is mascara, which Cher says should be replaced every four to six months. Using mascara for longer than this can increase the risk of an eye infection.

Asked if mineral make-up products last longer, Cher says they typically do because they often come in a powder format. However, there’s not too much difference between mineral powder products and traditional powder products when it comes to expiry dates, so it’s best to always check the product’s packaging.

To extend the shelf life of your makeup, Cher recommends cleaning your makeup brushes every one to two weeks.

“A quick spot clean in between with a brush cleanser is also helpful,” she adds.

“Make sure you put lids on properly, close the compacts properly and don’t pump the mascara brush up and down to get more product as the exposure to air increases bacteria.”

She also recommends storing your makeup in a cool, dry place — yes, ladies that means out of the bathroom!

“The bathroom can be a hot and steamy area, which encourages mould and can also shorten makeup shelf life,” Cher says.

She adds an easy way to keep track of the expiry dates is to write the date with a marker directly on the package. However, most products should have a date stamp, often written as 24M (24 months), that tells you how long it lasts.

Is it safe to use old makeup?

Technically yes, but you won’t be doing your skin or yourself any favours. Cher says old makeup is usually riddled with bacteria, which can lead to skin irritation, or worse a skin infection.

How to tell when you need to replace your makeup?

As well as the expiry date, Cher says the biggest telltale signs a product needs replacing is when it starts to crack, produces an unfamiliar scent or starts to change colour.

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