5-Minute Crafts
5-Minute Crafts

What the Real Expiration Date of Your Cosmetics Is and Why It’s Important to Stick to It

To find out the shelf life of cosmetics after opening them, all you need to do is to look at the packaging and find a small image of an open jar with the numbers 6, 12, 24, or 36. This is the number of months during which you can use the product after opening the package. If you can’t find this information, don’t worry — in our article, we will tell you about everything in detail.

We at 5-Minute Crafts understand that sometimes ditching your favorite cosmetics products might be a hard thing to do, even if their expiration date is over. But your health is more important.

Why it’s important

Makeup artist Ashley Rebecca says, “Skin irritations like rashes, bumps, and burning sensations can occur when using expired products. If you use mascara or eyeliner that’s past its expiration date, you can experience swelling, itchiness, or redness. It’s always best to see a dermatologist immediately if you experience any kind of reaction.”

The issue is in the fact that the expiration date of cosmetic products depends on the 1st day you use them, not on the date of purchase. And we oftentimes fail to pay attention to this date.

Makeup artist Britty Whitfield says, “If you’re ever stuck wondering, all products have a small symbol that looks like a jar with a number/letter on the inside, ex: 12M. This means, usually, that a product has a 12-month shelf life upon opening. For makeup, I always follow what the time frame is in the symbol. The worst possible thing would be to use an old, oxidized foundation.”

Concealers or makeup foundation

The expiration date will depend on its composition:

  • Water base: 12 months
  • Oil base: up to 18 months

The best way to store: Store the product in a cool place and shake the tube regularly.

How to understand if the product has gone bad: Regardless of the expiration date, if you notice that your cosmetics have stratified, it is better not to use this product.

Blush, bronzer and face powder

The shelf life of powder products is 18 months. Due to the fact that these cosmetics don’t contain water, it is more difficult for bacteria to multiply. However, liquid can get onto your bronzer or blush from a brush that you use to touch your face with foundation on.

The best way to store: Make sure to close the lid tightly after using the product. If possible, don’t use oily concealer before applying a bronzer, blush, or face powder. Make sure to clean the brush that you use for applying cosmetics before each usage.

How to understand if the product has gone bad: If you see that a hard rim has appeared on the powder, this means that the minerals have mixed with sebum.


Due to the damp consistency, which is a pleasant environment for the development of bacteria, mascara must be changed quite often. Its shelf life is:

  • If used regularly: 3 months
  • If used irregularly: 6 months

The best way to store: Try to keep the mascara open for as little time as possible to prevent it from drying out.

How to understand if the product has gone bad: If you notice that the smell has changed dramatically, and the popping sound has disappeared when you pull the brush out of the tube, you’d better get rid of this mascara.


The shelf life varies from 3 months to 3 years:

  • Liquid eyeliner: 3–6 months depending on how often you use it
  • Eye pencil: up to 36 months

The best way to store: If you use liquid eyeliner, cleanse its tip after each usage. If you use an eye pencil, disinfect the pencil sharpener regularly.

How to understand if the product has gone bad: The same applies to the liquid eyeliner as to the mascara — if you detect a change in smell. For eye pencils, it’s the appearance of a white layer that is impossible to remove.

Lipstick and lip gloss

The composition of the lipstick and gloss doesn’t contribute to the growth of bacteria, so they can be used for about 12 to 18 months.

The best way to store: Store them in the fridge and don’t apply hem right after eating.

How to understand if the product has gone bad: Drops of moisture on the surface of the lipstick, an unpleasant smell, and the appearance of a chalky texture.

Makeup brushes

One should be very attentive when it comes to the cleanness of makeup brushes because they can store a lot of bacteria. Dr. Jennifer MacGregor says the following about using makeup brushes, “It would be like rubbing a dirty washcloth or sponge on your skin, causing acne, infection, and irritation.”

The best way to store: Clean the brushes weekly and, ideally, store them in a drawer where they have no contact with air. MacGregor recommends spraying alcohol or diluted vinegar on the brushes after each use. Even with weekly cleaning, the brushes should be replaced every few years.

How to understand when it’s time to change the brushes: If the bristles start to fall out and if the brushes are several years old.

General recommendations

  • Wash your hands before applying makeup and after you finish.
  • Write the date of purchase on duct tape and stick it to the bottle so you know when to dispose of the product.
  • Clean your cosmetic bag regularly.
  • Store cosmetics in a cool and dry place. Make sure they don’t get exposed to sun rays and make sure to always tightly close the lid after using each product.
5-Minute Crafts/Beauty/What the Real Expiration Date of Your Cosmetics Is and Why It’s Important to Stick to It
Share This Article
You may like these articles