What You Need to Know About Makeup Expiration Dates

We all would love our favourite makeup products to last forever. The reality is all skin care and makeup products do have expiration dates. Why? Over time, your makeup products start to harbor bacteria that can lead to infections. By replacing your makeup products when recommended, you will avoid irritation, infections and breakouts. If you’re ready to cull your makeup collection, here are the recommended expiration dates to follow.

How to Know if Your Makeup Is Expired

If you look at the back or bottom of your makeup product, you’ll see an open jar symbol with a number and an “M”. This is called a PAO, or ‘period after opening’, and indicates how many months you can use the product after opening it.

Besides makeup expiration dates, there are also physical clues to help you decide whether or not your makeup has expired. If you notice that your makeup (i.e. foundation) has oxidized to a different colour, then this is a definite sign you should not be using the product anymore. Smell is another key indicator. If your product has developed a gasoline or vinegar-like smell, it has definitely expired. If the texture has changed in your product (foundations, concealers and mascara), this is another sign that it’s time to part ways with that product.

Shelf Life For Products

Makeup expiration dates vary depending on the product. Here is a breakdown of how long you could potentially use your makeup product before it’s time to bin it.

Foundation and concealer

Liquid and cream formulas can last up to 12 months, as they contain more water and hydrating agents. These factors may increase the risk of bacteria in your products. To help preserve your foundation, try storing it somewhere cool and regularly shake it to mix the oils and pigment.

Powder products

This could be a pressed or loose powder foundation, blush, bronzer or translucent powder. Makeup expiration dates for these products last between 18 to 24 months. Make sure you regularly clean your brushes to minimise the risk of bacterial contamination, and always make sure your compact is closed shut after use and avoid exposing the product to air for a long period of time.


Mascaras should only be used for three months once opened if applied daily. If mascara is just a sometimes product, you may be able to keep using it for an additional month or so. Bacteria also naturally exists on our eyelashes, so when we use a mascara wand, the chances of us transferring germs from our lashes into the tube are pretty high. So, it is important not to share your mascara with anyone else to avoid cross-contamination.


Similarly to mascara, you should be careful with liquid eyeliners and the transfer of bacteria into the liner tube. It is recommended to toss your liquid eyeliner after three or so months if used regularly. Pencil liners, on the other hand, last significantly longer because you can sharpen them to remove any bacteria. You can use your pencil eyeliner for up to a year.


While makeup expiration dates for powders are between 18 to 24 months, pressed or loose eyeshadow powders should be replaced more often than face powders to avoid applying harmful bacteria around delicate eye area.

Want to Know More About Makeup Expiration Dates?

If you’re keen to learn more about makeup expiration dates and how you can prolong the life of your makeup products, please get in touch!