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Makeup Expiration Dates - Shelf Life of Makeup

Preeti Sunil
Even the most hygiene-conscious among women, who would throw away that milk carton sitting in the fridge if it's even an hour past the expiry date, would not think twice before applying their favorite shade of lipstick even weeks past its "use-by" date. Are you wondering how much you can push your luck with the shelf life of your beauty products? Let's find out!
Most women would find it hard to believe that makeup and beauty products too have an expiration date. What harm could that innocent looking, expensive night cream that's a little over 3 years old possibly do during the course of external application! Well, for one it would be past its prime, in that, it would simply not have any effect on your skin.
So basically you would just be dabbing on lots of wax on your face. Same goes for sunscreens and most other application products whose active ingredients become ineffective past the use-by date. Of course, there are few others that might wreak havoc with your sensitive skin and even cause infections.

Harmful Effects of Using Out-of-date Beauty Products

  • Acne patches
  • Blemishes on the skin
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Eye infections manifesting as watery eyes, dryness of eyes or redness
  • Rashes and other allergic reactions

Makeup Shelf life

U.S. labeling regulations do not make it mandatory to display makeup expiration dates on most beauty products. For this reason, a lot of women believe that they probably can be used forever.
Nothing could be further from the truth! So, go grab your vanity kit and you'll surely find several things in there that you may want to toss out immediately. Do not feel guilty if you haven't used it since buying it months ago. Don't let the cost of the product determine its mileage.
You might end up spending more time and money in treating the side-effects of using an old, "expired" product than chucking it out and buying a new one. The table below lists down some common beauty products and their respective shelf life for your ready reference.

Beauty product and it's shelf life

Mascara: 3-4 months
Face Makeup (Liquid: liquid foundation, concealing liquids, liquid/cream blush, eyeshadow, etc.): 6-12 months
Face Makeup (Powder Form: Pressed foundation, Pressed powder, powder blush, eyeshadow, etc.): 1-2 years, depending on use
Lip gloss and Lipsticks: 1-2 years, depending on use
Eye pencils, lip pencils: 1-2 years, depending on use
Moisturizer and Skin care (including day creams, night creams and anti-aging products):1-2 years, depending on use
Brushes, sponges and tools: 3-4 months, depending on use
Nail Polish: 1 year
Perfumes, deodorants: 2 years
Hair care products (shampoo, conditioner, oils, gels, sprays, etc.): 3-5 years

Tips for Using Makeup Products within the Safety Threshold

Now, what if you don't remember exactly how many months have passed since you bought a product. Do not fret, if there's no expiration or use-by date mentioned on the product and if you don't remember the date of purchase, here are some pointers.
  • If you have an old but unopened product of a reasonably good quality, you may use it for 3-6 months.
  • Generally, water-based products harbor bacteria and are prone to contamination after being opened. If it's a mascara that you remember opening more than 3 months ago, just toss it out. When it comes to eye products, it's better to be safe than to be sorry.
This holds true for eye products that are not "old" too. If you notice there's irritation or reddening of the eye, simply discard the product.
  • Notice that we have mentioned the shelf life of certain products as "depending on use". If you are careful about keeping makeup and other skin care products in a dry area, away from sunlight, they would be less prone to contamination.
In addition, wash your hands before and after makeup application and do not share your makeup (especially water-based ones that transfer germs rapidly) with anyone else. Do not dilute makeup using water or saliva, it increases the chance of infections.
If you take care of these hygiene requirements, your beauty products will have a better shelf life and will most likely not cause any harm if you extend their use by a few weeks.
  • Keep your applicator clean. It is important to keep your makeup brushes clean. Sponges should be discarded when they start becoming worn out or within a month, whichever is earlier.
  • Alcohol-based products such as hair sprays and nail polish removers are made for prolonged use and do not cause any harm.

Few Warning Signs

Now, here are some warning signs that override all the above tips including the use-by dates mentioned on the product (if any). If you notice any or all the below in your beauty product, discard them without hesitation.
  • Mascara that has dried up
  • Evident change in texture, color and/or smell of the product
  • Storage environment was exposed to prolonged heat and/or moisture
  • Instant reaction on skin or in the eyes such as redness, itching or irritation
Having seen the shelf life information, if you now have a huge jar of that expensive, anti-aging face cream staring at you from the corner of your shelf waiting to be thrown out, no worries.
Although the antioxidants have probably "vanished" from the product, you can still use it on your arms and feet during winter. You can subject old products to such different uses, but be careful not to overdo it.
Hope you now have some insights on the need to do away with old beauty products and those past their shelf life. If you have skin allergies or extremely sensitive skin, you need to take extra care even if your products are not past the expiration dates. Ensure that you check makeup shelf life while purchasing the product.
If it is not mentioned on the product, ensure that you follow the recommendations listed above. Talking about makeup shelf life, the makeup you have on your face has a shelf life of only a few hours, so never forget to get all the makeup off your skin before you retire to bed.