Home Lifestyle Expired Beauty Products: Toss or Keep?

Expired Beauty Products: Toss or Keep?

Kelly Monroe

An email from a reader:

Dear Kelly,

I’ve heard I should toss my makeup and skin care products after a certain length of time. What are the recommendations for when to toss beauty products like moisturizers, mascara, and lipstick? Do I have to toss the item even if I’ve only used a little bit of it?  



This is a question I get asked a lot by customers. Usually people either ignore this topic completely or are fanatical about following the guidelines… me personally, I fall somewhere in between the two.  In my opinion, it comes down to what the product is and how you take care of it as to how strictly you should follow expiration guidelines. There are two things you want to watch out for when you are concerned about your beauty products expiring: product stability, and product contamination. You should pay attention to the condition of your products regardless of the expiration date. In my opinion, your observations and how you use and store the product are the best indicators of when to toss and when to keep.

 Here are some things to look for if you are concerned a product should be tossed.

·        Discoloration- has the product changed color?

·        Texture- has the product’s texture or consistency changed?

·        Smell- does the product smell different?

So, if your moisturizer was sealed, wasn’t stored in extreme heat or cold, and hasn’t changed in appearance or smell, in my opinion it would probably be fine to use beyond the recommended expiration date. Same rule of thought applies for cleansers, masks, lipsticks, brow products, cheek colors, primers, and foundations.

Now, the flip side of the coin; product contamination. For your safety, please be fanatical about replacing your eye products when they reach the manufacturer’s recommended expiration date. Eye products are so easily contaminated with bacteria and other gross stuff that I don’t want you to risk your vision because of an expired mascara. Most people know when their mascara needs to be replaced because of contamination. However, they don’t think twice about dabbing that five-year-old eye cream they found in the back of the drawer on their eyes. Eye products include eye creams, gels, primers, mascaras, serums, eyeliners, and eyeshadows. Always toss these products when they expire, unless they are unopened.

Taking care of your beauty products will decrease the chance of harmful bacteria spreading, and increase shelf life. Here are some do’s and don’ts:

·        Don’t expose them to extreme temperatures

·        Do always close containers tightly

·        Don’t share your products with other people (if your bestie wants to try that fabulous new product, use a Q-tip or spatula to share)

·        Don’t reuse eye products or lipsticks after being sick

·        Do use a Q-tip or makeup spatula to scoop out creams instead of dipping your finger directly into the product

How do you know when your products expire? Look for this symbol anywhere on your packaging, it tells you how many months the product is good for:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

If you can’t see the expiration on the product itself (makeup bags can be rough on a product’s exterior), you can contact the manufacturer of the product, or follow these general guidelines, but keep in mind specific expiration dates vary by brand:

·        Mascara- Toss after 2—3 months. If you have any kind of eye infection or irritation, toss immedialty to avoid reinfection

·        Liquid Foundation-  12 months

·        Powder Foundation- 18 months

·        Concealer- 12 months

·        Blush-24 months

·        Powder eye shadow- 24 months

·        Cream eye shadow – 3- 6 months

·        Liquid or gel eye liner- 2-3 months

·        Pencil eyeliner – 24 months (if sharpened between uses)

·        Lipstick- 12 months. If you have been sick, toss immediately


·        Moisturizers- 12 months

·        Acne products- 6 months

·        Anti Aging creams- 12 months

Do you have a beauty and/or wellness question, trend, or topic you would like to see discussed? Email Kelly at mnrockingham@gmail.com


Disclaimer: The views, opinions, and information in this article are solely those of the writer based on personal research and experience and are not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The writer is not responsible for your use of the information contained or linked from this article.

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