Your makeup products won’t last forever, especially if you’ve been making it a priority to switch to clean and non-toxic ingredients. And since you’re putting them on your face, you want to make sure that these ingredients are effective, nourishing, non-reactive, and certainly not rancid.
But different products have different shelf lives. We tapped celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno for her professional take on keeping up with your makeup products’ expiration date, and some really important notes to consider.
“For the most part, we as a society need to shift our mindset to acknowledge that quite a bit of what we put on our skin ends up in our bloodstream.” Because of this, Deno concludes, we want to use fresh products with lots of healing, plant-based ingredients.
And of course, these plant-based materials have a shelf life. Denno invites us to the delightful image of “a head of broccoli that you buy, and how limp, slimy, and stinky it gets after a couple of weeks in the fridge.” Yikes. “Although the majority of skincare and makeup ingredients in the green market are well fortified with preservatives to ward off potential bacterial infections, it’s still best to use them up typically within 6-12 months after opening, depending on the product.”
Denno points out that, “Sometimes it’ll be obvious that a product has become rancid because you’ll smell it. Other times there’s just no way an untrained eye or nose can tell.” Trust the date if you can see one, and if you have zero recollection of when you bought the product, it might be time to toss.
The reason behind this is major. “The risk is a bacterial skin infection, so it’s very important to pay attention to expiry dates. Separation in product is very normal and isn’t an indicator, so we can’t go by how it looks. Often emulsifiers are left out of green beauty products, and you’re meant to shake or stir the product prior to each use.”
To break it down by product, here’s a rule of thumb:
Lipsticks and lipliners have about two years. Lip liners that require sharpening are waxier, so you can get away with stretching that date a bit, if you must. You can typically smell when a lipstick is rancid.
Eye makeup like cream eyeshadows and gel or cream liners don’t live long—they have about six months. Powders have more time, about two years.
Foundations come in all different formulations and textures, so there is no one answer. With most powders, whether non-toxic or conventional, two years is typical. With conventional liquid foundations, six months to two years is standard, while cleaner, non-toxic formulations of liquid foundation will last six months to a year. You’ll start to notice the formula not blending well, or having a slightly sour smell, and know that its time is up. The same goes for blushes and bronzers.
Mascaras, sadly, only have a shelf life of three to six months. They’ll last longer if you don’t pump the wand, which invites more air (and bacteria) into the tube. No need to collect them all with mascaras. Find the one (or two, if you have special-occasion lash needs) you like, and use ‘em up, because their days are numbered.