How To Know When Your Makeup Has Expired

It’s hard to let go of your favorite, used-once-a-year product in the back of a bathroom drawer. But makeup doesn’t last forever, and you don’t want it to.

Take a moment and dump that makeup bag or drawer onto the floor, and sort through the plethora of products you’ve accumulated over the years. Your skin will thank you for it.

Some products have an expiration date on them. If so, abide by them! It’s the same rule as food; you wouldn’t drink milk that was two years past its expiration date, would you? So don’t apply rancid makeup onto your skin.

Unfortunately, not all products let you know when it’s time to toss. A good general rule is if you’ve had it over a year, you should be tossing it. And let’s be honest, are you really going to wear that purple roll-on glitter from middle school again?

Signs That The End Is Here

If you are wondering whether or not it’s time to ditch your makeup, there are three things you can look out for. Look for changes in smell, color, and consistency. These changes are good indicators that the product has gone bad. Some products naturally have a smell so look for a smell that is pungent and lingers. When a product has gone bad there won’t be any doubt in your mind but in case you do have doubts you can always check your order history and see when it was purchased.

If your makeup is expired, the quality that you’ve come to love is gone. This is easiest to detect in nail polish. You’ll know it has gone bad because you’ll spend hours trying to un-crust the screw-on top. And if you do succeed, your once-adored red nail polish looks like goopy mounds of glue.

Using expired makeup is risky because infections can occur from the bacteria and germs that grow on the product. Pay extra attention to the makeup around your eyes. These products, such as mascara, eyeliner, etc. tend to accumulate bacteria faster.

While organic makeup is better for your skin, it tends to go bad quicker. This is because organic makeup doesn’t contain many of the harmful chemicals that are used to preserve. For this reason, it is vital to keep an eye out for these changes.

Expiration Labels 

As previously stated many makeup products have an expiration date printed somewhere on the packaging. Here is an example of what to look for…

Here are the expiration dates once makeup is opened and exposed to air:

Lipstick: 1 year 

Eyeshadow: 2 years 

Lipgloss: 1 year 

Blush & Bronzer: 2 years

Rallye Balm: 1 year 

Eyeshadow Primer: 1 year

Mascara: 3 to 6 months 

Exfoliator (or any lip scrub even homemade): 1 year 

Lip pencils and Eyeliners: 1 year

Face Makeup (primer, foundation, powder): 2 years

Tips To Make It Last

There are steps you can take to make sure your products make it to the end of the year without going bad.

  • Everyone hates to throw out good lipstick; one way to avoid being wasteful is to buy colors by season. You don’t have a need for coral lipstick during December, so resist the urge to buy it until April. When you buy winter shades in winter and summer shades in summer, you save your makeup from sitting in your makeup bag unused for months.
  • Contrary to above, wear your lipsticks year round. Love that coral shade and it looks amazing on you? Then find ways to wear it in the winter – pair it with a “fall/winter” shade to get a custom look, top it with a gloss or just wear it by itself.  There’s no rule that you can’t wear coral in winter!
  • Another simple tip is to keep products out of the sun (i.e. don’t leave them in your car or a sunny bathroom window sill). Heat and humidity can ruin your makeup, so store them in a cool, dry, and dark place.
  • If you want to get the most out of your powder products, invest in a cosmetic sanitizing spray or mist 70% isopropyl alcohol onto the pan every month or so. Do this for any powder products.
  • Applying your makeup with a brush, not your finger, keeps the germs from your hands out of your products.  Clean your brushes regularly to keep bacteria from growing on them too. If you use your brushes every day – once a week to bi weekly cleaning is best. If you use your brushes less than that – aim for once a month.
  • Don’t share makeup with other people. It’s so tempting to let your friend wear that new lipstick shade and if you have a friend like that – carry some popsicle sticks in your bag to scrape off a little bit for her.
  • Encourage your daughters/granddaughters to not share makeup with other people.  It’s best to start this habit young. So that by the time they’re out on their own, they know how to stand up for themselves and not let others share their makeup.  Most makeup is shared between the ages of 15-21.  If your kid is in some kind of performance art – get them their own makeup.


  1. Ashley, does this hold true for lipsticks that have pieces cut off them with an alcohol-swiped knife (to use in smaller pots) and kept in the refrigerator? I usually do the “smell check” every few months! If it doesn’t have that delicious fresh smell that RAL lipsticks have — I toss it. Right now, I’m giving friends pots of lipsticks that I have had in the fridge – kind of spreading the love – in an effort to keep my (way to extensive) collection fresh.

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      Hey, Lynne. Great question! The expiration dates are generalized for “normal use” meaning a product that has been opened, used often and kept in conditions that might cause bacteria growth (heat, moisture, and light) Certainly, keeping them in the fridge can extend the shelf life. So what you’ve been doing is okay. You’ve been checking for changes in smell, consistency, and color so, that’s great!

  2. Thanks for the GREAT info! Incredibly helpful, Ashley!! Your timing is flawless, as I was recently surveying my makeup stash and wondering how to assess it all (as I have thrown away the packaging…lesson learned, will keep in future!). You all at Red Apple are simply the best!

    1. Ashley Teague says:

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear you found this to be helpful Carol 🙂 <3

  3. Mary Lee R. says:

    Is the company still accepting old cosmetics for disposal?

      1. The link to the trade in program “ doesn’t seem to exist”

        1. Ashley Teague says:

          Hi K, it’s possible that since this post *it is an older one* that the trade in program is not longer active. I will ask the team and see what’s up.

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