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Are makeup expiration dates important?

There is nothing worse than when your Holy Grail product is discontinued or you can no longer find it. This may mean we tend to hold onto things a little longer than we should. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end – including your favourite tube of lipstick. Makeup is actually only designed to last a certain period of time and it's essential you read the "period after opening" symbol on all your products.

But what if you can't find the symbol? Here at Finder, we have put together a guide on the makeup expiration dates you need to know about, and we discuss why the dates are important and what you can do to protect your beauty products.

Image: Getty Images


Do makeup expiration dates matter?

Yes.

Makeup expiration dates work as an indicator for how long you should be using a product once you've opened it. The dates come directly from the manufacturer and are put into place for a reason. Here at Finder, we recommend using these as the first point of evidence when deciding if you need to throw something away.


The makeup expiration dates you need to know – and how you can protect your products

Powder Eyeshadow

  • How long: 12 to 24 months
  • How to protect: Wipe down with a cloth and a drop of alcohol

Cream Eyeshadow

  • How long: 6 months
  • How to protect: Wash your hands before use or use clean makeup brushes

Mascara

  • How long: 3 to 6 months
  • How to protect: Stop pumping your mascara tube as it invites air into the product to breed bacteria

Liquid eyeliner

  • How long: 6 months
  • How to protect: Always keep the lid on the product

Pencil for eyebrows or eyeliner

  • How long: 12 to 24 months
  • How to protect: Sharpen the pencil often or wipe it with alcohol to eliminate bacterial growth

Liquid foundation/concealer

  • How long: 12 to 18 months
  • How to protect: Keep out of direct sunlight and shake the bottle often to prevent the mixture from separating

Cream products

  • How long: 6 months
  • How to protect: Always clean your hands before use

Powder foundation/blush/bronzer/highlight

  • How long: 12 to 24 months
  • How to protect: Clean your makeup tools regularly and always keep the lid closed tightly

Lipstick

  • How long: 24 months
  • How to protect: Clean them often with a spray of alcohol and simply wipe them down

Lipgloss

  • How long: 12 months
  • How to protect: Stop pumping the lip gloss tube as it allows air to stabilise inside the product, causing bacteria to grow

Lipliner

  • How long: 12 months
  • How to protect: Sharpen regularly and keep the lid closed

Fragrance

  • How long: 3 to 10 years (this can heavily vary with fragrances)
  • How to protect: Avoid sunlight and bright light by keeping fragrances in a dark cupboard

Nail polish

  • How long: 24 months
  • How to protect: Store in a cool, dry place

How do you know if makeup is expired?

Luckily, you don't need to be a scientist to know if makeup is expired. There are some clear warning signs that will indicate something is turning sour in your favourite foundation or bronzer. If you see or experience any of these, please stop using it and dispose of it, no matter how much you love it.

  • Smell. It doesn't need to a particular scent, but you will notice when the product doesn't have the same smell it usually does.
  • Change in colour or texture. If anything looks different to what it usually does, it's time to start speculating and thinking about when you opened the product.
  • Product separation. This will only occur in liquid products, but if you see an oil residue sitting on top of the rest of the product, it's time to throw it out.
  • Mould. This indicator is the most obvious. If you see mould, let it go… please.

How to make your makeup last longer?

  • Wash your hands before applying makeup
  • Do not share makeup
  • Do not add water or saliva to dilute makeup
  • Keep cosmetics away from direct heat or sunlight
  • Store cosmetics in a dry cupboard away from moisture
  • Do not leave products opened

Do paraben free/natural beauty products expire faster?

If makeup is labelled as "natural" or "organic", the shelf life significantly shortens. Without chemical preservatives like parabens, it's hard for products to perform and look their best for an extended period of time. Some natural beauty companies will use natural preservatives such as honey, but they don't work quite the same as parabens.


Are there ingredients that make products expire faster?

All cosmetics will eventually expire over time, but this happens at very different rates. There are a number of factors that can influence the determined shelf life of a product. It can depend on the amount of parabens and other preservatives in a product, antioxidants, active ingredients, PH levels, the packaging and storage environment.


Is it okay to use expired makeup?

You wouldn't eat expired food so why would you apply expired makeup on your face? The principle is the same. Cosmetics were the source of approximately 30% of total injury reports received by the ACCC in 2014. Using an expired product could potentially result in bacterial infections. If this occurs in or around your eyes, it can cause swelling, pain and, in some cases, an infection like pink eye or a stye. Using an expired power product could likely result in feelings of discomfort or itchiness on and around the face.


Is there another way to get rid of makeup without throwing it out?

Some beauty brands are switching to more sustainable practices, so there has never been a better time to know about these makeup recycling programs.

  • Kiehl's offers a Recycle & Reward program that encourages customers to return any full-size package to receive special stamps that you save to receive a reward.
  • The Back to MAC service allows you to swap used packages for one new product. This can include anything from lipstick to face powder.
  • Origins counters accept empty containers to do the recycling for you. Origins uses recycled material to create the containers, so it's a win-win for everyone.
  • TerraCycle is a company that works with different beauty brands to carry out the recycling process. It's free and brands such as L'Oréal, Jurlique and L'Occitane are involved.

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