How to Tell if Your Makeup Is Expired, Even if It Looks Fine

September 7, 2016
By Meagan Morris
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Confession time.

There was a period of my life when I reused the same tube of mascara for over two years. Completely gross, but I figured since it didn't look or smell bad it was fine. I was wrong.

Makeup—like food—has a shelf life, and it's often shorter than you think. It may difficult to throw away your expensive makeup every few months, but it's worth it to keep you healthy.


I no longer keep my mascara around for years, but I'm lucky I never developed an eye infection during those days. At least I wasn't alone: a 2014 survey found that over 70 percent of women use their mascara for way longer than necessary.

Mascara should be ditched after four months—even sooner if you develop an eye infection or if it suddenly starts smelling funny or shows a weird consistency. The good news is that mascara technology is advanced enough that even inexpensive mascaras—like favorite L'Oreal's Voluminous Black Mascara—lengthens your lashes like a pro.


Every makeup lover has that favorite tube of lipstick that looks perfect when it glides on, but you can't get another one because the company discontinued it. It's tempting to keep it around forever, but lipstick only has a shelf life of 12 months. That said, some formulas last longer.

When is it time to ditch your lipstick? The easiest way to tell is when the consistency changes because it won't glide on as easily and it'll come off "chunkier" on your lips. The smell is also another big indicator—expired lipstick will have a weird, stale odor that reminds some people (like me) of crayons.


Foundation is probably one of the most expensive items in your beauty arsenal, so I have some good news: It lasts quite a bit longer than most other makeup. A good oil-based liquid foundation will last about 18 months, while a water-based one is good for a year or more.

As for when you know when it's time to toss it? The consistency will change and look goopy—and like lipstick, it'll start smelling strange.

Powdered or mineral-based foundations last about a year, but some of the ingredients in these—like bismuth oxychloride—can irritate the skin, so ditch it ASAP if you have irritation or redness.


Does blush ever expire? It seems like it would last forever, but every good thing comes to an end. You can keep blush around for a year or more and it'll still be good to go. The tell-tale sign that it's time to toss is when a grayish film covers the top. Consistency will also change over time.


Eyeshadow, like blush, seems like it would last forever. Sadly, it doesn't—and your favorite bold eye colors have a shorter shelf life than you'd think. Eyeshadow's proximity to your eyes means it could cause infection, so you should toss every three or four months, just like with mascara—even sooner if you notice a change of color or smell.

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