7 Surprising Makeup Expiration Dates You Didn’t Know

Lisa Patulny

Google “makeup expiration dates” and you’ll discover a tonne of handy articles all written to remind you how long your makeup lasts. Most of these lists are comprehensive—everyday mainstays like foundation, mascara and lipstick always make an appearance—but special occasion or buzzy new products (like cushion compacts) can sometimes miss out.

Wanting to know how long we could go on applying the same, well-worn tube of medicated concealer prompted us to ask an expert to fill in the gaps. Makeup artist Fern Madden says there are two considerations you should make when deciding whether or not to discard a product—whether it comes into contact with your eyes, and if it contains a significant amount of moisture. “Both will shorten a product’s lifespan since they increase the likelihood of bacterial growth,” she says. “If in doubt ditch those products sooner rather than later.” Keep scrolling for the insider intel on what to bin, when.

Regular liquid foundation can last up to two years, so what makes cushion compacts different? “The saturated sponge inside the compact comes into contact with the applicator every time you apply, transferring bacteria from your face to the sponge to the compact,” says Madden. Cleanse the applicator weekly to keep things hygienic.

Gel and cream blush formulas can give cheeks a healthy—and believable—flush but they don’t last as long as their powder counterparts. “Keep them in a cool place to extend the lifespan. High temperatures can make them melt, ruining the product completely,” says Madden.

“Since these touch your brows and not your eyes, you can keep them longer than mascara,” says Madden. Gel formulas don’t respond well to heat in general (note to self: store brow gel for touch-ups in your handbag not the glovebox), so if it’s exposed, you’ll need to ditch it sooner.

Faux lashes themselves don’t have an expiration date, but the glue they're often sold with, does. “Once opened, the adhesive will dry up quickly so replace it at least every six months,” says Madden. To help lashes last as long as possible, clean off old glue post-wear with a sterile pin.

If you only suffer the odd breakout, you might need to keep a closer eye on how long you’re holding on to any spot-specific concealers. “If you’re dabbing them onto spots, they won’t last quite as long as regular concealer as the chances of being polluted with bacteria is higher,” says Madden.

“Lip balm can seem to last a really long time but it’s good practice to bin it after a year,” says Madden. Once opened there is potential for bacterial growth, as well as contamination if you suffer from cold sores. Tip: if you have an active cold sore apply your lip balm with a disposable cotton bud.

“Six months to a year works well for eyeshadow primer, unless you’ve had an eye infection in which case, throw it straight out,” says Madden. If you only use shadow primer on special occasions, opt for a mini or travel size to give you a better chance of using up the product before its lifespan ends.

Ready to replenish your beauty bag post-spring clean? Check out these makeup artist-approved beauty bargains

How do you remember to throw out products past their prime? Share your tricks with us in the comments below.

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