How Much Do You *Really* Have To Pay Attention To Makeup Expiration Dates?

Do we really need to be chucking our lipsticks after a year?

Some of our readers may be a little shocked to learn that cosmetics do go off. For most products, going past the expiry dates simply means it just won’t apply like it used to, but there are more extreme cases where using an out of date product will cause skin problems like breakouts, rashes, swelling and irritation. Gross, right? STELLAR have got you covered for knowing all there is to know about beauty expiration dates.


Usually how we know it’s time for our fave eyeshadow palette to go in the bin is when we’ve hit pan but unfortunately, it can be a lot sooner than we had hoped. Every cosmetic product there is will have a PAO symbol (period after opening) somewhere on the packaging. This means that once opened, you have however many months to use it. So if its says 6m, that means six months.But incase your product doesn’t have the symbol or it’s worn off by now, here’s a general guide:

  • Mascara, gel/liquid eyeliner – 3 months
  • Foundation – 6-12 months
  • Pencils – eye, eyebrow, lip – 6-12 months
  • Lipsticks – 1-2 years
  • Lipgloss – 1 year
  • Powders – eyeshadows, blush, setting, contour – 2 years
  • Nail varnish – 2 years
  • Perfume – 8-10 years

The reason makeup has an expiration date is because it traps bacteria, so once it expires your beloved foundation will start to let in a load of gross germs. In other words, that foundation that’s supposed to give you a flawless matte finish is now turning you into a glossy egg. Not good.

But how important really are these dates? When it comes to products like eyeliner and mascara – extremely important. Using an expired, bacteria-filled mascara is basically just saying “Come at me eye infection”. We only have one pair of eyes, so bin that mascara after three months, gals.

Powder-based products you’ve a liiiiitttle bit more leverage with. What happens to an expired blush, highlighter or eyeshadow is that it hardens, meaning it’ll be slightly more difficult to apply. As long as you’re using clean brushes, it doesn’t smell, and still looks great, then use away.

Using a liquid foundation past its expiry date is not a good idea. When a foundation expires, the formula begins to separate, with the preservatives in the formula breaking down and allowing more room for contamination. So if you put it on your face, you’re more than likely going to get skin irritation.

Obvs, if you’ve had any kind of mouth infection while using a certain lipstick then you need to bin it immediately, but if you’re a bit of a lipstick hoarder, then you’ll be glad to know that the expiry dates on lipsticks are just a guide. The worst thing an expired lipstick will do is smell, form mold or become hard and crumbly when applying.

Tips on getting that bit extra out of that expiration date:

  • Wash your brushes on the reg.
  • Clean your lipstick – wipe the top layer with a baby wipe for a simple clean, but for something more thorough, dip the lipstick in rubbing alcohol for a few seconds and dab off with a tissue.
  • If using a jarred product like a face cream, it’s best to use a brush or sponge you clean daily to apply the product. Alternatively, scoop out how much you need with a beauty spatula and apply with washed hands to keep the germs at bay.
  • Keep your products out of direct sun light ensures they won’t spoil and split the formulas.

us with our expired makeup

We don’t know about you, but we’re definitely going to think again about buying that new mascara that we already have six of at home – there just aren’t enough hours in the day to go through all that makeup before it expires.


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