The Truth about Using Expired Makeup

Gone are the days of ‘ignorance is bliss’ when it comes to expiry dates on beauty products. We’ve all done it, kept an expired mascara or foundation in our makeup bag because it’s our favourite or cost a lot of money (for what it is). However, keeping a product past its expiry date not only makes the product less effective but it can also be bad for your skin. If you find yourself caught up in the ‘it smells ok and looks ok’ approach, the side effects may make you think again. 

Here, we look at the key products we rely on in our daily beauty routines, their shelf life and what can happen when that shelf life is overlooked.


Shelf life: 6 months – 1 year 

It will become very clear when your foundation is ready to replace due to a change in consistency. The oil will rise to the top with the consistency thickening which will leave an uneven and streaky coverage as well as the risk of irritation as ingredients begin to separate and increase the risk of bacteria growth due to preservatives being no longer effective. It’s recommended that you avoid touching the neck of the bottle of your foundation to avoid the transfer of bacteria from your hands and use the back of your hand to drip the right amount of makeup onto ahead of application instead.


Shelf life: 2 years

Powder formula blushes last for up to two years and are one of the longest lasting colour cosmetics products you can buy. The build-up of bacteria is less of concern plus bacteria doesn’t thrive in a dry environment. As long as the product still delivers ok, you’re good to go for a little longer with powder-based products. Bacterial issues or irritations that do arise are likely more to do with a quick clean of your brush.

Mascara and eyeliner

Shelf life: 3 months

Being one of the most sensitive parts of your face, going near your eyes with out of date products is a huge no-no. Experts recommend that mascara should be discarded with three months to avoid bacteria thriving and causing irritation and infection. Is it really worth messing with your eyes for the sake of salvaging some old mascara? And for obvious reasons, avoid sharing mascara. The same goes for eyeliner. In fact, liquid eyeliner is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to causing infections so the minute you notice eyeliner drying out, losing colour or starting to become ineffective, throw it out.


Shelf life: 1 year

Similar to eye products, lipsticks and glosses are ones to keep an eye on due to their connection with a sensitive part of your face. The skin on your lips is the thinnest on your entire body and although lip products themselves don’t tend to harbour much bacteria, once lipstick or a lip gloss wand comes into contact with something like a cold sore and the wand has been placed back into its packaging, it can contaminate the entire product. Other than that you’ll notice when lipstick starts showing signs of expiration as the consistency begins to dry out and become chalk-like. To avoid this keep products away from heat to avoid breakdown of the ingredients that will speed up the expiration process.

Niamh Crawford-Walker

Niamh is a full time fashion and features writer at The Style Edit. Her work has previously appeared in IMAGE magazine, and Emirates Woman.

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