Is Your Makeup Still Good After a Year?

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on September 21, 2021
3 min read

When you buy cosmetic products, you may not consider that they have an expiration date. The shelf life of makeup products depends on the brand and item. Learn how you can tell the expiration date of makeup products.

Makeup products don’t necessarily go bad or become dangerous to use. The shelf life of cosmetics refers to the length of time your makeup maintains the expected quality. After the expiration date, the texture and color of your product may change.

Your cosmetics break down over time. Makeup shelf life greatly depends on how you store and use it. Your makeup can last longer when you take the right precautions.‌

Using fingers. Avoid touching cosmetic products with your fingers. You should also avoid directly touching the brushes, pads, and applicators you use to apply makeup. Your fingers transfer bacteria and fungi that may cause your makeup to degrade faster.‌‌

Cleaning applicators. You transfer bacteria each time you apply makeup to your skin, lips, and lashes. Reduce mold and yeast growth by cleaning your makeup tools regularly.‌

Storage. Your makeup products break down faster if they are exposed to:

  • Sunlight
  • Heat
  • Air
  • Temperature changes‌
  • Moisture‌

Make sure to store your cosmetics in a dark, cool area. You can use a drawer or cabinet away from heat and moisture. If you don’t store cosmetics correctly, they have a shorter shelf life. Preservatives break down. Oil and water in some products may separate. Other products may dry out and become unusable.

You can calculate how long makeup is good for in two steps. First, look for a date printed on your makeup's packaging. Your cosmetic products expire by this date whether they are opened or not.‌

Next, look for the number of months your product is good for after opening. Each product has a standard symbol with a number in the middle. After you open a cosmetic product, you can safely use it for that many months. Some makeup products are good for a year or longer. Others have a shorter shelf life.‌

Eye makeup. Cosmetics like eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara usually have a shorter shelf life than other products. For example, you can safely use mascara for 2 to 4 months. After that, you risk transferring bacteria and fungi back onto the sensitive skin around your eyes.‌

SPF. The FDA labels most cosmetics as personal care products. Some items have a drug label. Products with an SPF have both labels. The FDA monitors drug expirations for stability. In the case of SPF, the expiration date ensures you receive the sun protection you expect from the product.‌

Keep in mind that the FDA does not regulate expiration dates for cosmetic products. It is up to the manufacturer to list expiration dates on their makeup. Many manufacturers conduct their own tests using different conditions to determine product shelf life. They also contact stores to discard expired makeup products.

Choose powder over liquid. If you want to get more life out of your products, buy powders. Cream or liquid makeup tends to have more oil and water, so it may not last as long. Powder makeup has less liquid, offering a longer shelf life‌.

Watch for changes in texture. If you notice that your makeup feels different, throw it away. For example, your mascara is bad when it becomes dry. Don’t add water or oil to make it last longer, or you risk an infection.

Don’t share cosmetics. You may be tempted to borrow a friend’s eye shadow or blush, but don’t. Sharing makeup spreads bacteria. This includes testing makeup in stores before purchasing. If you try makeup, use a new applicator. Test the product on the back of your hand instead of your face.

Don’t buy second-hand. It always feels good to get a deal on an expensive cosmetic product. But you may risk your health by purchasing makeup from flea markets or resellers online. You don’t know how long ago the original buyer got the products or how they stored the makeup. You also risk getting knock-off products that aren’t the original brand. You may not have an option to return the products if they aren’t what you expect.