Ask an Expert: How Do I Know When My Makeup Expires?

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OK ladies, it’s time to confess. Do you have a makeup product that you’ve been holding onto for years? Just because you’ve only used that sexy red lipstick or alluring gold eye shadow a couple of times, it doesn’t mean that it can’t expire. Well, it's time to clean out your makeup bag because as it turns out, when you use expired products, you could face some pretty nasty consequences.

“If you use expired products, your face can break out and you could set yourself up for an eye infection,” says Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD. On top of that, expired products may not work as well and can also cause irritation, adds Los Angeles dermatologist Debra Luftman, MD.

While that’s enough to make us throw away the products we’ve been hoarding over the years, it can be difficult to tell when it’s time for them to go. “If the foundation or blush is cracked, has lost its color or smells bad—it is usually expired,” says Dr. Downie. The rule of thumb that you should follow is, “Mascara lasts three months, eyeliners last three months, blush and foundation last at least six months, eye shadow lasts three to six months and lipstick can last for a year.” 

What’s more, there’s actually a sneaky way you can tell if you need to get rid of the product. Simply look at the packaging that the product in question comes in for a picture of a little jar. The number that’s in the picture is actually the suggested length of time that you should keep the product starting the day you open it.

For more information on how to make your products last as long as possible, follow these tips.

SPECIAL: The Secret to Discovering the Beauty Products That Are Right For You


  • Claudio Pinto
    Master Aesthetician - New York, NY

    Ladies, It's not worth the hassle.... IF your mascara, Lipstick, Or foundation is expired throw it away... You havent used it in a while its time to move on. Many eye and other skin infections are caused because of it. Normally powder things can last a while - Like eye shadows and pressed powder. But anything moist cannot. Bacteria, fungus and other lovely things thrive in moist environments and you do NOT want that near you. You could develop many unwanted diseases.Also DO NOT donate to charity or give it to a friend. Simply get rid of it and make a trip to your favorite store. You will be glad you did. Normally Mascara lasts about 3 months or so. If you are always on the run i would also recommend disposable wands and disposable sponges for sanitary makeup application. Enjoy looking your best with the very best!

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