We’ve all got that friend — you’re at their place and you notice their makeup collection is filled with products that have been discontinued for years. If you don’t have a friend like that then you may be that friend. But no judgements here — we’ve all been guilty of hoarding makeup way past the expiration date, especially our favorites that go out of production.
We’ll give you a minute if you paused at the words “expiration date.” Yes, makeup expires and your products should always come with an actual use-by date or length of time post-opening that signifies when you should stop using them. If this is news to you you’re not alone. Lots of beauty lovers find themselves asking, how long does mascara last? How long can you keep foundation? Is this lipstick still good to use?
To spare you from going down the product expiration rabbit hole, we’re breaking it down for you below and explaining how long makeup lasts by product and even explaining how long you can use your makeup tools.
How to Tell How Long Makeup Lasts
There are general guidelines for how long you should keep each type of makeup after opening, but there’s one handy tip to know: A lot of your makeup has a little symbol on the packaging that indicates when you should throw out your products. It’s called a POA, or period-after-opening, symbol.
Flip over your foundation or face powder. See the small jar symbol on the back? The number scribbled inside the jar indicates how many months the product is okay to use after opening. This number is typically dictated by formula safety and efficacy properties, not by consumer experience.
In other words, your naked eye can’t analyze whether or not that mascara is still good to use. After the POA the product could essentially be ineffective or undergo changes in the formula. Your safest bet is to stick to the timeframe that the brand set out in order to avoid potential issues.
Is It Okay to Use Expired Makeup?
Some hardcore beauty lovers may still decide that if a product is wearing well and the pan is full, there’s no need to chuck it. But beware — transfer and fading could be the least of your worries if you’re using expired cosmetics.
According to the Mayo Clinic, using old products can result in serious issues. At a minimum it could lead to clogged pores and breakouts, but you could also suffer from irritation and serious infections. When in doubt, just throw it out!
How Long Can You Keep Makeup?
Since different types of makeup expire at different times it can be hard to keep up with all those dates. That’s okay, just remember to check your POA. Once you’ve done that, take a marker and write down the projected expiration date (from the date of opening) on the product so that you’re always mindful of that. Also, follow this basic breakdown below to help guide you on the expiry dates of various cosmetics.
How Long Does Mascara Last?
You may not want to part with your favorite tube of mascara, but we hate to inform you that it has the earliest expiration date when it comes to makeup. Mascara lasts around three to six months, and shouldn’t be kept around for longer.
Think about it: You’re putting it right near your eyes. An old tube of mascara could be an eye infection waiting to happen, so consider swapping your old tube for a new one each season to stay on the safe side.
Luckily, the L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Washable Mascara gives you six good months of bold, fanned out lash looks. So you really only have to re-up twice a year — though, it’s such a stellar product that you’ll probably run out well before six months from using it so much.
How Long Does Powder Makeup Last?
Powders, on the other hand, have a much longer shelf life. This includes blush, bronzer, powder foundation like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear in a Powder, and translucent setting powders like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Sweep & Lock Loose Setting Face Powder.
These products can be kept for around one to two years, so you’ll have plenty of time to put them to use. Challenge yourself and see if you can use them up before they go bad.
How Long Does Eyeshadow Last?
Powder eyeshadows can be kept around for just about as long as your other powder products. Since they’re used around your eyes, we would recommend trying to stick with that one-year timeline for replacing shadows.
We know with all the fun makeup looks to try it can be difficult to use one eyeshadow palette at a time to get the most use before it’s time to part ways, but if you’re on a budget you may want to consider it. An alternative is to buy single eyeshadow pods, like the L’Oréal Paris Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadows — they’re affordable and come in a variety of colors and finishes.
How Long Do Creams Last?
How Long Does Lipstick Last?
Now, let’s talk about that lipstick you’ve been hoarding since high school prom. We’ll acknowledge that stockpiling lip products in your collection long past their due date is much too easy, but it’s a habit that needs to be broken. Lip products, including lipstick, as well as lip gloss and lip liner, should only stay in your makeup bag for one to two years.
If you’re realizing that it’s time to get rid of some of your beloved lippies right now, replace them with the L’Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Balm-in-Lipstick and L’Oréal Paris Glow Paradise Lip Balm-in-Gloss. They’re both formulated with pomegranate extract to soothe and moisturize lips while giving them a beautiful glow.
How Long Does Liquid Foundation and Concealer Last?
We covered powders and creams, so you may be wondering about liquid foundation and concealer. While you may swear by the L’Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup like we do, it, along with your other liquid foundations and concealers, should be swapped out after 12 months.
Editor’s tip: Be especially mindful of foundations with SPF as the sun protection factor may be ineffective past the POA. Using an expired sunscreen could mean it may not have the full SPF that you think you’re getting at that point.
How Long Do Eyebrow and Eyeliner Pencils Last?
If you use pencil eyeliner or an eyebrow pencil, you’re in luck. These products last longer than other formula options for liner and brows, as they’re constantly being sharpened. Keep them around for 12 to 18 months.
How Long Does Liquid and Gel Eyeliner Last?
Alternatively, if you use gel or liquid liner like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Precision Felt Waterproof Eyeliner, as well as liquid or gel brow products, it’s important to keep an eye on the expiration date. Similar to mascara, these products have a shorter lifespan than most. They can hang in your makeup bag for about six months. Chances are you’ll notice the eyeliners starting to dry out around that time anyway, so it won’t be too hard to say goodbye.
How Long Do Makeup Blenders and Brushes Last?
We’ve covered all the products in your makeup bag — but your tools are no exception. It’s really all about keeping your makeup brushes and blenders clean. Since it’s all dependent on your sanitation ritual, they have a rather large range for their lifespan. If you typically slack on cleaning, keep them for six months. Give them a regular pro cleaning and your makeup brushes and blenders can be good for years.
How Long Does Nail Polish Last?
If you’re a nail lover then you likely considered your nail polish collection as part of your beloved cosmetics. While you may have accumulated quite the array of colors, it’s best to keep each bottle for about one to two years. That’s a decent amount of time so make sure you get the most out of your favorite shades.
Can You Refrigerate Makeup to Extend Its Shelf Life?
We’re always here for a hack so we get it if you’re trying to find a way to extend the life of your favorite makeup. If you’re tempted to put foundations, blushes and other products in your skin care fridge with the hope of getting over on the POA, you may do your must-haves more harm than good.
Unless your product explicitly calls for refrigeration (for example, it says it on the package), you could run the risk of formula separation and changes. Plus, the claims on the product may not be valid for cold temperatures and refrigeration could render your favorite makeup useless.