Using Expired Makeup Isn’t a Good Idea – Here's When It’s Time to Toss It

Eva Hagan - Author

Feb. 28 2023, Published 9:32 a.m. ET

Putting on lipgloss
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This may be hard to hear, but no matter how much you spent on the last lipstick or foundation you bought, it will expire.

Makeup can be expensive – especially if you are looking for reliable ingredients. But makeup has an expiration date for a reason. Your products can trap all sorts of bacteria and germs, which could eventually cause breakouts, infections, and irritation. So, the next time you pick up a bottle of last summer's foundation, ask yourself: should I use expired makeup?

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Women applying mascara
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Don't use expired makeup – even if it's unopened.

Unfortunately, regardless of how much you spent on that lipstick, you should abide by its expiration date. Per Susan Massick, MD, Dermatologist and Associate Professor at Ohio State University, makeup expiration dates matter, especially depending on the kind of product.

For one thing, makeup that has passed it's expiration date (even if you haven't opened it!) just won't work as well. This could look like a weird smell, color, change in consistency of the product, or separation of ingredients.

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On a more concerning note, opened expired makeup can contain bacteria colonies that could be bad news for your skin. If you have noticed increased breakouts, irritation, or even a skin infection, consider checking the dates on your daily products. This is especially important when it comes to eye makeup, which can cause a myriad of serious eye infections, per Ohio State University, from styes to pink eye.

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When does makeup expire?

Depending on the brand or the type of product, makeup expiration dates will vary. Therefore it can be hard to keep track of when to replace what. According to Mayo Clinic, these are some good general guidelines to follow.

Water-based foundation should be replaced after one year, while cream-based foundation can last six months to a year. Oil based foundation, on the other hand, should be replaced after about 18 months.

Mascara and liquid eyeliner should be replaced around every three months. Meanwhile, pencil eyeliner, gel eyeliner, and lip liner can keep for up to one year.

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Applying eyeliner
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Blushes can be used for up to six months, whereas powder products can last as long as two years. One of the longest lasting products is lipstick, which can be used for up to two years. However, the same doesn't go for lipgloss, which is only really good for up to a year.

Is buying mini-makeup a good alternative?

If you are reading this and getting ready to do a reluctant dump of expired products, listen up. Buying mini versions of the products you use could be a way to spend less money, while reducing the amount of makeup you inevitably end up throwing away – especially if you don't wear a ton of makeup every single day, per allbeauty. So, the takeaway is that mini makeup is portable, usually much cheaper, and within travel size regulations. Honestly, in our opinion, it's the way to go.

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