Makeup expires and so do all beauty products. Like most things we consume, makeup has a shelf life or expiration date. It can be confusing to figure out when to toss a beauty product, so I decided to write a whole blog posted dedicated to makeup shelf life. Stay tuned for one about skincare shelf life and expirations. If you can’t wait, I discuss it with Kerry Hite over on Behind The Beauty Podcast Season 2, Episode 7. You can listen to the episode here or watch it here. Makeup shelf life differs from product to product. Key factors to how long makeup stays good include packaging and ingredients. While I cannot write a post for every product out there, here is a good general guideline. Happy Spring cleaning!

makeup shelf life flatlay


All beauty products have an expiration symbol on them. The symbol looks like an open jar with a number before “M.” The number indicates how many months the product is good for from opening. Makeup and skincare start to go bad the second it is exposed to air. Most beauty products have an actual shelf life of 2 years and up! That means products can be made in large batches and stored in warehouses for years before reaching the consumer. For the purpose of this blog, we are going to focus on makeup shelf life meaning when it goes bad in your possession.


makeup shelf life symbols

Photo from Hilary Says


Because it’s officially spring, I’ve been decluttering my makeup collection. My first step to any declutter session is to go through all the products by category from how I apply them. Again, remember this is a general guideline to help you with determining when to toss a product. First check out the handy symbol on your products. Can’t remember when you opened it? Then it’s probably time to go. When in doubt, use good judgment. I like to ask myself these three questions to determine if it’ll stay or go in the trash.

  1. Does the product look different from when you originally bought it? If yes, toss.
  2. Does is smell funky? Is it separating? If yes, toss.
  3. Have you used it in the last 3 months? If no, toss.

makeup shelf life foundations


Oil Free Foundations 12 months 

Cream Compact Foundations 18 months

Liquid Foundations 12-24 months depending on the ingredients

Remember to also consider how much air your foundation is exposed to. Does the foundation come in a pump? Is it a pour out? Pour out foundations are exposed to more air, there for causing them to breed bacteria faster. Have you stuck your finger in it? No matter how many times you wash your hands and face, your skin has tiny bugs that will contaminate your makeup. So, if you have touched the product to your hands or face, odds are the makeup is going to go bad faster. Don’t believe me, listen to the podcast episode with Kerry, she’ll convince you to never touch your products again.

makeup shelf life concealers


Stick Concealers 12-18 months (I’ve had some say 24 months)

Liquid and Cream Concealers 6 months (the kind that comes with a doe foot applicator) 

Same rules apply for concealers as foundations. A big one is to remember to avoid using your fingers for pot concealers. Remember all those tiny bugs on your fingers, yeah they are now living and breeding in your jar concealer. Invest in a small spatula or use a qtip to disperse product.

makeup shelf life powders


Powder Makeup 24 months

Because powder makeup like bronzers, blushes, and highlighters are dry, it takes longer for bacteria to grow. So go ahead a continue to hoard your powders a bit longer. Don’t forget to clean your brushes frequently! The oils and bacteria from your brushes can spread to your powders if you do not clean often. (To be completely honest, I gotta get better about cleaning my brushes myself)
makeup shelf life eyeliners


Pencil Eyeliners 24 months (my tip is if you haven’t used one in awhile, sharpen them before use. This will shave off some of the germs)

Liquid or Gel Eyeliners 3 months 

Don’t be stingy here, these products are going near or in your eyes! When in doubt TOSS!
makeup shelf life lipstick lip gloss

Lip Products

Lipstick 12 months

Lip liner 12 months

Lip Gloss 18-24 months

I’m not exactly sure why lip gloss last longer than lipsticks, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the waxes and oils in lipsticks. Personally I can smell when a lipstick is bad. I’ve made the mistake of putting on one that smelled bad because it was Tom Ford and who wants to toss a $50 lipstick? Well, lesson learned. My lips immediately felt itch, chapped, and uncomfortable. Trust me guys, you’ll know when something is wrong, but hopefully these guidelines will help you avoid having to be a guinea pig.

makeup shelf life mascara


Mascara 3 months

Again, this is something you put on your eyes and will most likely get in your eyes. Don’t be stingy, replace your mascaras often!

makeup shelf life fragrances


Fragrances 6-18 months  as soon as fragrances are opened, they start to deteriorate. Light, citrus based scents as little as 6 months from opening. Floral scents 12 to 18 months.

Not sure where to throw fragrances in since it’s not quite skincare and not quite makeup, so I figure I’d add them into this post. To be completely honest, I keep my fragrances way longer than 18 months. Until I notice a change in the fragrance, I keep them around. Now if you are sensitive and have allergies, I would recommend following the expiration dates, but otherwise, I say here is a place you can hoard a bit more.


How bad are you? Leave me a comment telling me what the oldest thing in your makeup collection is. What’s that one product you just can’t bring yourself to toss even though you know it’s been years. I’d love to hear your confessions. Mine is foundations and concealers, I don’t know why I have a hard time letting go of concealers and foundations, when I know they are bad. I won’t even wear them anymore, but I just can’t toss them either. There’s always the what if mentality.

I hope this post helped clear up any confusion you might have had about makeup shelf life. Maybe it’s inspired you to toss a few things this spring. I know that I constantly am trying to declutter and purging old products based on shelf life has helped me start somewhere.

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  1. Vicki
    November 21, 2018 / 6:49 pm

    I just came across a suitcase full of 16 year old makeup. Come on…. the wooden pencils should be fine, right? Never used. ?‍♀️

    • Serein Wu
      November 25, 2018 / 2:38 pm

      If they were never opened it’s usually a 2 year shelf life.

  2. May 6, 2017 / 5:27 am

    Me too… I really don’t toss liquid foundations. My favorites are high end and I don’t know whether I can get replacement if I toss them all out! Cushion foundations are easier tho bc they literally dry out/ I go through them quickly

  3. April 26, 2017 / 12:49 pm

    I just bought some stickers to put on makeup so that I can document when I open them! Your blog post TOTALLY inspired me!

    Kate |

    • HerbieLoveBug
      April 30, 2017 / 4:04 am

      That’s so smart!!! I’m going copy you!

  4. Janine
    April 10, 2017 / 4:17 pm

    Shame on me! hahaha
    I have some itens in my make up stash for over 13 years! Mostly lipsticks. But my naked 1 eyeshadow palette it’s probably about 6 years old (at least!). And I have no plans to toss then! Well, maybe some lipsticks… And I have 2 mascaras and one primer that I know have gonne bad, so I must toss then and don’t use then. Just waiting for replace then so I dont forget the names…
    (sorry for my horrible english!)

    • Sheri McCoy
      May 11, 2017 / 6:24 am

      I’m there with you
      It’s hard to toss when we pay so much for makeup

  5. April 7, 2017 / 10:44 pm

    My Naked palette was a gift from 5 years ago. I have barely used it. Gah, I just feel so bad throwing it away so I just have it sitting in my collection.

  6. April 6, 2017 / 1:25 am

    What a helpful and informative post Serein! You are way more organized than me, that’s for sure! I have a hard time separating with my lipsticks – but you always know something is wrong when they smell funky. Thanks for sharing and yay – April is my birthday month too! xx

    Naya //

  7. April 5, 2017 / 11:26 pm

    Oh Lord, I’m awful… I keep lipsticks WAY too long– I assumed their shelf life after opening was 3 years! Opps! And great tip about pot concealers– I have the RMS one and I wish I would have used a q-tip with it!

    Thanks Serein!

  8. April 4, 2017 / 3:17 am

    This was a great reminder to go through my stash and get rid of some things. So hard though when you have so much and only use each thing once a month! Sarah from Iheartcosmetics x

  9. Joselyn T
    April 3, 2017 / 9:53 am

    Thanks for the post Serein! I think my oldest product is a Merle Norman cream blush that is probably 7-8 years old. I haven’t used it in a long time, I just hate throwing product away!!

  10. nadiah
    April 3, 2017 / 6:58 am

    thanks for this post! I am a lipstick junkie so probably lipstick is the one that is so hard to get rid of.. btw, my birthday is also in April =)

  11. Barb C.
    April 3, 2017 / 6:16 am

    Love this post as usual so much fantastic helpful infirmation. . ❤

  12. Anjee
    April 2, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    Thanks for the great blog post- it was very informative! (and slightly disgusting thinking about bugs on my fingertips, ew!) I’m not sure what my oldest makeup item is but I definitely have a fragrance that is probably 10 (15….20?!?) years old. It one of the JP Gaultier perfumes shaped like Madonna’s famous gold boob-cone outfit. I know it is surely rancid at this point but I just can’t seem to get rid of it. It’s just so cool looking and it is still my favorite perfume of all time.

    • Serein Wu
      April 3, 2017 / 12:58 am

      I have a perfume that I wore on my wedding day that I’ll never throw away, but I’ll also never wear it again because I’m sure it’s gone bad :-p I think it’s okay to keep a few things here and there for packaging as long as we don’t try to put it on ourselves. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading!

  13. Angelica Calderon
    April 2, 2017 / 5:21 pm

    It breaks my heart to toss a make up product. I am a single mom guys that is hoping that make up can help me financially just through home servicing others. As of now i am still studying by myself through watching videos. If you guys will declutter make ups, expired or not, used or unused pls. Just give it to me instead of throwing it. It will be a help to me.

  14. Krista
    April 2, 2017 / 7:58 am

    This was a great reminder. I think the oldest thing in my collection is a palette from The Balm. It is the original BalmVoyage palette. I have sprayed it with alcohol and I don’t use the cream products anymore. Those I know are bad. I

    I had to crack up laughing when I saw you accidently put that pencil eye liners last 24 YEARS! I wish that was true! I have a small collection, but feel I’ll never be able to use most things up. I’d love everything to last that long. I hate throwing things out

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      Thank you so much for reading! Omg, I need to fix that!!! Thanks for letting me know! I hate throwing things out too, it’s such a waste, but it’s so bad to keep using things that have gone bad on our face!

  15. Barbara
    April 2, 2017 / 7:04 am

    I always learn something new and that’s what I really like about your Blog and Videos. Time to mark my calendar, Happy Birthday ????? Month to you!!!

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:10 pm

      aw thank you so much, this means a lot to hear from you Barbara. I read a few comments this morning that were not so kind and I’m happy that you find my content helpful! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  16. Jo Vee
    April 2, 2017 / 5:55 am

    I actually type in my phone calendar when I open a new mascara or liquid eye product. It’s the only products I throw away at EXACTLY 3 months since I wear contact lenses and have really sensitive eyes. This also means I tend not to buy these products high end since they get trashed so quickly and also why I love high end deluxe samples for the eyes !! Most of the time, the deluxe samples of mascara last almost 2 months so it’s great. Awesome article Serein ! xo

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:15 pm

      You are so good! Yes, mascara and eyeliners are definite no budge ones for me. I’ve had pink eye from being on set and other gross things happen before. Whenever people ask where to invest on makeup, I say foundations and a good eyeshadow palette, but mascara and eyeliner defiently buy drugstore! Toss them! I love my high end mascaras and liners, but if I have to choose to save then that’s where I would cut back.

      • Joselyn T
        April 3, 2017 / 9:54 am

        Great advice! I put a fine point sharpie in my makeup drawer to write the “open on” date right on the tube!

  17. Deana
    April 1, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    Thank you for this information… I have items , I honestly don’t know how long….time to clean out the makeup drawers!!!

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:15 pm

      Thanks for reading! Hope you do clean some stuff out!

  18. Katrina King
    April 1, 2017 / 8:58 pm

    I loved this, very informative! I am bad about throwing away any makeup and I definitely needed to read this because I’m definitely stingy with my makeup!

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:16 pm

      It’s so funny how we like to hold on to them! I use to be afraid to waste my product so I would not use something pretty! HOW WEIRD IS THAT?! I spend more money on it and keep it in a drawer afraid to mess it up! Lol.

  19. Amirah Hanum
    April 1, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    I have the worse time letting go of blushes, eyeshadows and lipsticks.

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:17 pm

      It’s so hard sometimes! I love my TF lipsticks my mom bought me, not throwing them away, but not going to wear them either.

  20. Laura Romero
    April 1, 2017 / 7:50 pm

    Very informative, Thanks Serein!

  21. Tammie Lalone
    April 1, 2017 / 7:24 pm

    This was great information thank you so much for sharing. I’ll have to slow down on buying makeup now that I know it wont last. Skincare guidelines would definitely be appreciated as well.

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:18 pm

      Yes, it really puts things into perspective now for me as well. I try to only buy what I’ll use, but it’s so hard when I review things for a living! Lol, I do try to pass them on and let things go knowing I’ll have the chance to buy it again if I really need or want it.

  22. Kiran
    April 1, 2017 / 6:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing this information with us. It’s sad but sometimes the hard truth can be! I am going to start playing around more with my products seeming as I have built quite the collection and was not aware that makeup expired as fast as it did. I knew mascara did after three months. Looking forward to your skincare expiration blog!

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:18 pm

      Thank you so much Kiran! So happy you found this helpful. Yes, it does not last as long as I wish it did. I actually have been doing some major purging because of it. I bought so much makeup the first few years of YouTube and just left them in the drawers afraid to use or throw away.

  23. Tina Young
    April 1, 2017 / 6:17 pm

    It would be great if you could do the same for skin care products. Thanks for the information. I don’t like throwing anything out. I usually give it to my daughter if I don’t use it anymore.

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      Skincare is coming soon! Just gotta gather all the information. Oh that’s good to have a person to pass it on to, but please don’t pass on expired makeup!

  24. Jean F.
    April 1, 2017 / 6:12 pm

    Love this, very informative! I’m a stickler when it comes to using expired makeup, and I even label or sharpie my makeup products when I opened them to help me know when it’s time to toss them out. I will admit that powdered products, such as eyeshadows or blush, I will stretch a little past their expired date. When it comes to lipsticks or eyeliners that I know I probably won’t be using for a bit, I will take a alcohol wipe to them to help reduce bacteria growth. I also spot clean my brushes after every use, and clean them every few days. I realize this may be a bit excessive, but the idea of getting an eye infection or skin irritation due to expired products makes me cringe.

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Wow, you are so on top of it! I gotta get better. Love your tips for making lipsticks last a bit longer. I just feel so wasteful tossing things. I’m trying to be better at passing things on when I don’t wear it for the first month so someone else can enjoy it before it goes bad. I do agree powders can get a bit more stretch time :-p

  25. Rhonda
    April 1, 2017 / 5:35 pm

    I dont like to throw away any makeup. I always think someone else can use them. Except mascara. The oldest thing I own is a perfume that was bought for me for Christmas in 2011. It still has a lovely smell.

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:21 pm

      As long as it doesn’t perform different and you can still smell it, I think the fragrance is fine. I agree, if we all are a bit more aware, we can pass on the makeup we don’t use and let someone else enjoy it before it goes bad.

  26. Vivian
    April 1, 2017 / 4:09 pm

    Thanks for the tip on not using fingers for pot concealers! I just bought one and so I’ll remember to be mindful and use a brush. The only thing I am bad with is mascara and sponges cuz I just can’t bare to part with them!

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:22 pm

      NOOO! Please be better about the mascara! It’s on your eyes every day! As long as you clean the sponge I re use them for a long time. Thanks for reading!

  27. April 1, 2017 / 3:49 pm

    Is there a good way to clean pot concealers? I have the nars one and just used it and saw others using their fingers and didn’t think much of it. Now I can’t get the image of bugs in my concealer out of my head LOL

    • Serein Wu
      April 2, 2017 / 3:23 pm

      Omg, so sorry! I recommend taking alcohol, a clean tissue, dipping the tissue in alcohol and wiping away the first layer.

  28. Savannah Vu
    April 1, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    Do pencil eyeliners really last 24 years or is that a typo, haha. In all seriousness I’m so glad you made this post. I had no idea gel eyeliners are only good for 3 months, I have a couple I bought last year that seem like they need to go! Ive also been very guilty of dipping my fingers in my pot concealers. Looking forward to you skincare shelf life blog post!

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