Shelf Life of Beauty Products



How can I tell if my products have gone bad? How long do they last?

Just like food and medicine the ingredients in skin care products do expire. Unfortunately most skin care products and makeup don’t have an expiry date on them. You can normally identify their expiry by an unpleasant odor, texture or colour.  Other factors such as exposure to heat or direct sunlight over a period of time, packaging, storage and method of usage can affect the longevity of the product.

Here are some products and their shelf lives:

Mascara: 3 months
Mascara is an ideal environment for bacteria. Replace your mascara every three to four months, and never share your mascara or add water to it if it dries out

Lip-liner and eyeliner: 2 years
Lip-liners  and eyeliners can last up to two years if you sharpen them regularly which help them stay sanitary and fresh. Keep them away from heat and always buy the ones with a cap and keep this on them at all times. Avoid sharing, and when they start to crumble toss them.

Moisturizer: 1-2 years
How long your moisturiser lasts depends on the brand, ingredients and the container. The essential oils and natural components in most moisturisers break down quickly, and also they are prone to bacteria growth due to their high level of moisture. If your moisturiser contains antioxidants this can make the product become sensitive to light and oxidize quickly.

To help your moisturiser last longer buy the ones in a closed container or tube instead of a jar, and keep them in a dry, dark place away from heat. Also, buy a small size so you can use it up quickly.

Sunscreen: 12-18 months

This product should always have an expiry date on the container otherwise don’t buy it. Also it is recommended to throw away any sun product after a year as you want the potency of the sun protective ingredients to be at their peak.

Nail Polish: 18 months
The chemicals in the polish start to break down after about a year which could cause the colour to change and/or it can become dry. You’ll also notice the colour will start to separate and even when it is shaken it won’t be completely mix.

 Foundation: 12 months

The shelf life for these varies according to formula. Oil free foundations tend to dry out faster than cream or powder foundations. The oils on your fingers can also introduce bacteria into the liquid, so always use a sponge or brush to preserve it.

Powder foundation can last between 6-12 months but they can cake and collect bacteria. When the colour or smell of your foundation changes it’s past its prime. Also the consistency of the product changes. The good thing is as we use them daily they typically run out before their expiry date.

 Eye Shadow: 2 years

Powder eye shadow lasts as long as powder eyeliner if you always use a clean brush and avoid using it while you have an eye infection. If the powder starts to cake you should get a new one.

Lip Gloss: 18-24 months
Lip gloss dries out fairly quickly because it’s thinner and contains less fat than lipstick. If it becomes clumpy, dry, or changes colour then replace it.

Blush and Bronzer: 2 years
Powders last longer, but the oils in your skin will alter the texture and make it more difficult to apply after a couple years, and you may also notice changes in colour. When it starts to cake replace it. Try washing your makeup brush after each use – it will prolong the life of your powdered products. For cream blushes, replace after 6 months.

Face wash: 3+ years

Unless you only wash your face once a week your face wash will usually be depleted within 3 months, however of all the beauty products face wash lasts the longest after opening as many contain anti-bacterial ingredients and come in sealable containers.

Lipstick: 2-3 years
After two years the fats in the lipstick will start to break down, which will make it dry, crumbly, and probably change the colour. To make it last longer, apply it with a clean brush. Never share it with someone else.

Powders: 2-3 years
Powder tends to get clumpy after more than a couple years because it mixes with the oils in your skin over time. If you take excellent care of it, powder can last up to three years.

Perfume: 3 Years
Cheaper perfumes and eau de toilettes may only last two years, but good perfumes will last up to three. You can extend the life of your perfumes by keeping them in the fridge or a cool place, away from direct light and heat. When the colour or scent changes it’s time to replace.


The best ways to preserve your beauty products in order to maximize their shelf life are:

  1. Keep them in a cool, dry and dark place away from sunlight, humidity and heat.
  2. Wash your hands before using any skin care product.
  3. Wash your makeup brushes and sponges on a regular basis.
  4. Always wait for your brushes and sponges to dry before using them again.
  5. Don’t use a dirty sponge or brush in any of your skin care.
  6. If your cream comes in a jar use a spatula to take the product out instead of your fingers.
  7. Try not to carry too many products in your handbag as heating can change the consistency and even color of the products.
  8. Don’t share makeup or skin care products.
  9. Don’t add water or saliva to dilute your makeup.
  10. Only buy skin care in tubes and closed containers as they have a lower rate of bacterial infestation than products in a jar.
  11. Always check the expiry date of products before you buy them.
  12. If you’re not sure how old your makeup is then check the consistency. If in doubt, throw it out and start fresh.
  13. Write the date of purchase on the label with a marker so that you’ll always be able to tell how old your makeup is.

Throw out and replace if:

  • Smell has changed
  • Changes colour
  • Changes texture
  • Suddenly gives you skin irritation or breakouts
  • Has been exposed to prolonged heat
  • Container is cracked or broken