When it comes to your favorite makeup products, here’s a truth that many find hard to accept: makeup doesn’t last forever. Mascaras. Liquid eyeliners. Foundations. Moisturizers and toners. These are a few of the many products that do, unfortunately, have a shelf life.

We aren’t writing this because we’re heartless. If we could use our favorite mascara until the bristles fell off, we would. But we’re writing this to protect you from the harmful bacteria that live and grow inside everyday beauty essentials – it’s important to check those makeup expiration dates! 

This handy makeup expiration guide will serve well in moments when you wonder, “Is it time to replace?”

So, let’s dive into the “when” and “why” of checking the expiration dates on cosmetics and refreshing your beauty favorites.

How Long Does Makeup Last?

This is the burning question, right? The truth is, it varies by product, and with so many different types of products, figuring out how long your makeup lasts can feel overwhelming. While mascara only lasts for a few months, some products may last you years. We’re here to break it all down and answer those questions, like, “Does eyeshadow expire?” so your products continue serving you flawless looks instead of bacteria and gook.

We’ll help you check the expiration dates on the following makeup products and tools:




Liquid or gel eyeliner

Eye and lip pencils




Makeup Expiration: Mascara

Shelf Life: 3-6 months once opened

While you may check the expiration date on your makeup and see it’s years away, that only applies to unopened mascara. Once opened, mascara needs to be replaced more frequently than any other beauty product. Every time you pump a mascara wand back into its tube, the product traps bacteria, which can cause harmful eye infections.

3 Tell-Tale Signs it’s Time to Replace Your Mascara: 

It’s dry and clumpy

Bristles have excessive buildup

Scent change

Shop Mascaras

FOUNDATION Expiration 

Shelf Life: 6-12 months

Unlike powder formulas, liquid foundations contain oils or other ingredients that break down over time. Pump containers provide more protection than ones with an open top. For open-top foundations, it’s best to put the product on a palette or mixing tray before applying with a clean brush or sponge. 

How to Tell if Your Foundation is Expired

When a foundation is nearing expiration, you may notice dryness or changes in consistency. If the consistency seems normal, but you know you’ve had the foundation for a long time (no judgment), it may be worth checking the expiration date on your cosmetics!

Shop Foundations


Powder Makeup - Does Eyeshadow Expire?

Shelf Life: 3 years

Because they don’t require large amounts of water to manufacture, powders, like setting powders and powder eyeshadows, have a longer shelf life than most other cosmetic products. To prevent the early makeup expiration of your powder products, store in cool, dry locations with the lids firmly closed.

When to Replace Expired Powder Makeup

If you notice powder becoming more difficult to blend or chalky, the makeup is expired, and a replacement is due.

Shop Eyeshadows

Shop Powders



Shelf Life: 3-6 months

Like mascara, liquid eyeliners should be at the top of your frequent replacements list once the bottle is opened – despite what the makeup expiration date on the bottle says. Because this product is applied to the eyes, you’re at higher risk of contracting an infection if the makeup is nearing expiration.

When to Replace Liquid or Gel Liners

The most common sign of expired liquid liner is a dry formula. Most people think adding a little water will prolong the life, but doing so helps bacteria to grow faster.

A product like Inglot Duraline or Cozzette Matrix Mixing Liquid can help revive a drying gel liner, but since you're opening and closing it frequently, replace it every three to six months, depending on how often you use it.

Shop Liquid Eyeliners


EYE & LIP PENCILS – Does That Makeup Expire, Too?

Shelf Life: 1-2 years

Pencils tend to last longer because they are constantly being sharpened, which provides a clean, fresh layer before each application. However, it's important to disinfect and sharpen them after every use since they're being used on the eyes and lips, where bacteria levels are higher than other areas of the face.

How Do You Know When to Replace Lip and Eye Pencils?

Aside from checking expiration dates on cosmetics, it’s difficult to tell when an eye or lip pencil has gone bad. A good rule to follow is to replace pencils that no longer sharpen easily. For example, pencils that frequently break off after sharpening are best to toss. If you notice they're changing color, the makeup is expired, and it's time to throw them away. Discoloration is often a sign of mold growing within the product - yikes.

Shop Eye Pencils

Shop Lip Pencils

Do SKINCARE Products Expire?

Shelf Life: Varies, but typically 12 months

The shelf life for skincare can vary based on the ingredients, packaging style, and frequency of use. However, a good rule of thumb, aside from checking the skincare expiration date, is to replace it if it's been more than a year.

How to Prolong the Life of Skincare Products

After a year, moisturizers and toners lose most of their beneficial properties. The efficacy of the active ingredients decreases over time, and some deteriorate each time they're exposed to air. Others include ingredients that break down with exposure to light or extreme temperatures, so be sure to read the label, check the products’ expiration dates, and store them properly.

Always apply these products with clean hands. Never add water to prolong the life of these products, as it dilutes the formula.

Shop Moisturizers

Shop Toners


Can Makeup BRUSHES Expire?

Shelf Life: N/A 

Thankfully, makeup expiration dates don’t apply to brushes. They can last for decades if you properly care for them. Purchase an all-natural, deep-cleaning brush cleaner to rid your bristles of pesky bacteria and buildup. Crazy Merman offers a variety of vegan brush cleaners that smell amazing and make your brushes like new again.

Will I Ever Have to Replace My Makeup Brushes? 

If your brush sheds with every use or no longer applies product evenly, it may be time for replacements.

Shop Brush Cleaners

Shop Brushes

OTHER Makeup Expiration GUIDELINES

Knowing how to properly identify when expired makeup needs to be replaced can help keep any makeup products you purchase from causing an infection. Here are some tried-and-true bonus tips to help you figure out if your makeup is expired and teach you how to check those pesky makeup expiration dates: 

1) Write the date of purchase or open date on the outside of each product.

2) Federal law requires all makeup products to feature a PAO (Period After Opening) or BBE (Best Before End Date) symbol. A PAO symbol applies only if the shelf life is 30 months or more. Any less, and the product will feature a BBE symbol to signal makeup expiration date.

3) Products made from natural ingredients will include a makeup expiration date that applies even if unopened.

4) If you can’t find an expiration date on your makeup or skincare product or a PAO or BBE label, check for the manufacture date. This will help you to know if the product is nearing expiration, as many unused cosmetics lose their quality over time. 

To answer specific questions about your makeup products, email our beauty experts. Then shop our site to replace expired makeup with fresh products!

About Camera Ready Cosmetics

Camera Ready Cosmetics was founded in 2003 by makeup artist Mary Erickson. Having been in the makeup artist industry for 30+ years, Mary knows quality and value and understands what an artist needs

She dreamed of having a pro makeup showroom where artists could play with professional products without the typical makeup store attitude. 

Today, our team of beauty industry veterans works together to curate the best quality products on the market. We partner with brands who respect the industry and formulate products for true working artists. You won’t find CRC in high-end malls, and we don't wear matching brush belts.

If you want to play with products for a few hours and buy nothing, that's okay ... come in and play! Our store is your playground.



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