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What You Really Need to Know About Makeup Expiration Dates

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We know it's a tough call throwing away your favorite blush or lipstick, but abiding by makeup expiration dates is actually incredibly important. Why? Cosmetics trap bacteria, which means replacing them regularly is necessary to avoid skin irritation, breakouts, eye infections, and styes. (And it's not just your makeup formulas—check out what happened when we tested bacteria levels on makeup brushes.)

But here's a caveat: Unlike the contents of your fridge, the use-by date on your makeup products relies on the first day you use them, not the purchase date. So how do you know when to toss that foundation or mascara? Separation or changes in texture along with foul smells are dead giveaways the product has gone bad.

The more moisture the product has—or the closer it comes to your eyes—the shorter its life span.

While it's crucial to look out for those telltale signs, it's still helpful to get a general idea of how long each product is meant to last. Below, find out exactly how long you can use your favorite products without worry.

The Shelf Life of Makeup
Elnora Turner / Byrdie 


Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation $44

Shelf Life: six months to one year

Tips: Keep your foundation germ-free for longer by keeping your fingers away from the neck of the bottle. Instead, gently drip the formula onto the back of your hand before you apply. If you notice your foundation starting to separate, it’s definitely time to toss it.


Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum
Chanel No. 5 Eau de Parfum $105

Shelf Life: eight to 10 years

Tips: Fragrance is the longest-lasting product in your beauty routine—by far! Max out your perfume’s shelf life by keeping your scents out of direct sunlight. (Some brands, like Le Labo, even suggest storing them in the fridge.)

Lipstick, Liner, and Gloss

Nars Lipstick
Nars Lipstick $26

Shelf Life: one year

Tips: It’s time to toss your favorite lip products when you notice a change in their texture—whether that means they dry out or they get goopy. Make your favorite red last longer by keeping it in a cool, dry place (no in your hot car).

Brow Pencil and Kohl Eyeliner

Lancôme Le Crayon Khôl Smoky Eyeliner
Lancôme Le Crayon Khôl Smoky Eyeliner $26

Shelf Life: one year

Tips: Pencils last longer than most eye products since they’re constantly being sharpened. Keep your liners away from your steamy bathroom to extend their life.


Maybelline Volum' Express the Falsies Mascara
Maybelline Volum' Express the Falsies Mascara $8

Shelf Life: three months

Tips: Replacing your mascara regularly is crucial for avoiding eye infections. Switch out every three months (or sooner if you notice the formula getting clumpy or starting to smell funny, signaling it’s gone bad). And, of course, don’t ever share mascara, as it can cause cross-contamination.

Liquid Eyeliner

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner
Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner $22

Shelf Life: three to four months

Tips: Just like mascara, don’t share your liquid eyeliner—germs are your biggest enemy with this type of beauty product.

Blush and Powder

MAC Cosmetics Powder Blush $25

Shelf Life: two years

Tips: The longest-lasting color cosmetics you’ll ever buy, powder-formula blushes last around two full years.

Cream Blush and Multiple Sticks

Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm
Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm $25

Shelf Life: 12 to 18 months

Tips: Toss cream blush and “multiple” sticks (as in, products you can use on your cheeks and lips) if you notice a change in their texture.

Always use clean hands when applying any product to help keep the tubes and pots germ-free.

Eye Shadow

Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow Single
Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow Single $12

Shelf Life: three to six months

Tips: While powder shadows can last as long as powder blushes (about two years), they should be replaced more often since they’re used around your eyes.

Nail Polish

JINsoon Nail Lacquer
JINsoon Nail Lacquer $18

Shelf Life: one to two years

Tip: Heat and direct sunlight will make your polish separate and become discolored faster, so store your lacquers upright in a cool, dry place. There are also tricks to help you extend the life of polish that has gone goopy.

Gel Eyeliner

Stila Cosmetics Smudge Pot $20

Shelf Life: two months

Tip: Unfortunately, a pot of gel eyeliner should only be used for a few months since it easily traps bacteria.

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