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How Long Does Makeup Last?

Last Updated on by Carly

It’s probably not what you want to hear, but makeup and beauty products expire. Some people are quite shocked when they realise this, finding it difficult to justify buying a lipstick, just to throw it away after a few years. However, failing to do so can cause problems such as irritation and skin breakouts. That said, there’s no legal requirement for companies to put expiration dates on their products, so people don’t worry about it. For me, keeping a close eye on makeup and skincare products was all part and parcel of working in the beauty industry. There’s nothing worse than throwing away makeup that’s hardly been used, but I couldn’t risk a client getting ill. The question is, how long do we have with our beloved products before they expire?….

How Long Does Makeup Last


Liquid foundation has a shelf-life of 6-12 months. Signs that it has gone off include a change in colour, and the separation of ingredients (unless the product specifies that it comes this way). Foundations that are in a jar are more likely to be at risk of bacteria, which will lessen their time.


Concealer is similar to foundation, and again has a shelf-life of 6-12 months. Products like this are often used everyday, leaving them more exposed to bacteria. I’ve had concealers that have started to dry out before, and for me this is a classic sign that they need to go!


Face powder has a fairly long shelf-life, and can last for two years. Gone off powders may have a bad smell, or change in colour or texture.

Blusher & Eyeshadow

These can be kept for 2 years and have a tendancy to become flaky when they’re off. Liquid eyeshadows last for even less time due to their formula. Their shelf-life is around 12 months.

Eye Pencils

It’s recommended that eye pencils are thrown away after 2 years. Sharpening pencils before each use can help to keep  them nice and clean, and lessen the risk of spreading bacteria.


Mascara has the shortest shelf-life of them all, with around 2-3 months left after they’re opened. As a rule, if they smell odd or become clumpy, I tend to throw them away. Also, if you’ve had an eye infection, then you must get rid!


Lipsticks can be kept for up to 2 years before they tend to go off. Just like concealer, if it looks like it’s drying out, then it might be time to say goodbye.


Unlike lipstick, lipgloss only has a shelf-life of 1 year. If it’s starting to become really sticky that could be a sign that it need replacing.

Other beauty products such as nail polish last around 1-2 years, depending on how much they’re used. Classic signs that they need to go, are a gloopy texture, bubbles appearing when applied, and the polish separating into layers. Perfume has a shelf life of 8-10 years, and is longest lasting of them all. Once expired, they often look much lighter in colour, and might smell odd. Body lotion lasts for 2 years, and you should ditch it if the colour has changed, as do face creams.

Things to look out for:

Some brands list expiration dates, regardless of the lack of legal requirements. The day, month and year that the product should be used by might be on the packaging. Lush Cosmetics set a really good example when it come stop this.

If you see a picture of a jar with an open lid then look closer, as you’ll notice a number and a letter. This might be an ‘M’ (month) or a ‘Y’ (year). For example ’24M’. This means once you have opened the product it should be used within 24 months.

When was the last time you had a good sort through your makeup?

Carly x


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