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How to Tell if Your Cosmetics Have Expired

Posted May 21 2009 10:10pm 2 Comments
Most women don't realize that cosmetics expire and it is very important to get rid of old beauty products. Tossing out old cosmetics will help you get the maximum benefits and avoid serious rashes and infections.

The FDA does not regulate the expiration dates of cosmetics so you can not check for them on your products. Most experts agree that mascara lasts the shortest amount of time and is the most likely to cause infections such as pink eye.

When your cosmetics are opened and exposed to light this causes bacteria to start forming, which also decreases the effectiveness of the product.

Mascara should be tossed after about 3 months. Never keep mascara longer than 3 months and avoid pumping it because this pushes bacteria back into the tube. You can check your mascara by doing a sniff test. If you believe that the smell has changed since you last purchased it then it's time to toss it. Keeping mascara out of heat and light will make it last longer. You can also wipe the brush off with a tissue after each use to help prevent the spread of infection. Never share your mascara with another person.

Heat can also damage creamy cosmetics such as eye shadows and lipsticks. If beads start forming after using these get rid of it. Heat can cause the oil to rise to the surface which makes it a bad idea to keep it. Older lipsticks that are exposed to extreme temperatures should be tossed to prevent bacteria from spreading. After a year of use you should replace all your lipsticks and lip gloss.


Below are some basic expiration date guidelines for cosmetics.

  • liquid foundationicon, 3-6 months (Cream foundation, 4-6 months.) Bottled foundation should last about 3-6 months. It is time to replace it if the ingredients begin to settle or separate, the smell changes or the texture is different.
  • Concealer, lasts up to 6-8 mos.
  • powders, pressed powders, eye shadows and blush, 1 year.
  • Mascara, 3 months
  • Lipstick and lip gloss, 1 year
  • Eye/ lip pencils, 1 year. Make sure you sharpen your pencils at least once a week to prevent bacteria from spreading. If it is dry or crumbles you'll know that the product has gone bad.
  • facial cleansersicon, 6 mos.
  • Toners, 1 year
  • Natural cosmetics, 6 mos (including "All Natural Body Washes.") Natural cosmetics that contain plant-derived ingredients have a short shelf life because they are conducive to bacterial growth.
You also need to take care of your brushes and tools to avoid infection. Oils and bacteria can get trapped in the bristles of the brushes. Synthetic brushes should be washed once a week and natural- bristled brushes once a month. You can use mild soap or baby shampoo when washing your brushes.

Make-up sponges should be washed after each use and tossed after a month or if the brush tears.

Comments (2)
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Many people are not aware of the effects of make-up used past its prime, a "Period after Opening" date (mandated in Europe) or  that permanent markers are not resistant to oil and shouldn't be used to mark-up products.  It's exciting to use my many years of risk management experience, coupled with my studies as a PhD candidate in Instructional Technology, to start my own business educating consumers. If you have time, please view my avatar video for the "Once Opened Beauty Expiration Kit"  or purchase kit
Great article, especially the experation dates of different cosmetics. 
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