Makeup Expiration Guide: When To Replace Your Favorite Beauty Products


When it comes to your favorite makeup products, here’s a truth that many find hard to accept: they don’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.

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

So let’s dive into the “when” and “why” of refreshing your beauty favorites.



Shelf Life: 3-6 months

Why replace? 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.

When to replace? If the product becomes dry and clumpy or the bristles have excessive buildup, it’s time to re-order.

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Shelf Life: 6-12 months

Unlike powder formulas, liquid foundations contain oils 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 the back of your hand before applying to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

When to replace? When a foundation is nearing expiration, you may notice dryness or changes in consistency.

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Shelf Life: 3 years

Because they don’t require large amounts of water to manufacture, powders have a longer shelf life than most other cosmetic products. To prolong the life of your powder, store in cool locations with the lid firmly closed.

When to replace? If you notice powder becoming more difficult to blend or chalky, a replacement is due.

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Liquid Eyeliner

Shelf Life: 3-6 months

Like mascara, liquid eyeliners should be at the top of your frequent replacements list. Because this product is applied to the eye, you’re at higher risk of contracting an infection if the product is nearing its last leg.

When to replace? The most common sign of bad 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.

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Eye & Lip Pencils

Shelf Life: 3 years

Pencils tend to last longer because they are constantly being sharpened, which provides a clean, fresh layer before each application. To prolong the life, be sure to put the lid back on before throwing it in your makeup bag. If you’re guilty of not doing that every time, so are we. Oops! :)

When to replace? It’s more difficult to tell when an eye or lip pencil has gone bad, but a good rule to follow is avoiding pencils that no longer sharpen easily. For example, pencils that frequently break-off after sharpening are best to toss.

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Face Moisturizers & Toners

Shelf Life: 6-12 months

Most moisturizers and toners come in a pump or spray bottles, which protect the product and prolong its life. But constant use allows air to get trapped inside the container and breaks down the ingredients over time, making the product less effective.

When to replace? After a year, moisturizers and toners have lost most of their beneficial properties. Always apply these products with clean hands or a cotton pad. For sprays, apply directly to the skin. Never add water to prolong the life of these products, as it dilutes the formula.

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Shelf Life: N/A

Makeup brushes 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. 

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

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Other Guidelines

As a general rule of thumb, here are a few expert tips to help keep any makeup products you purchase from causing an infection:

1) Write the date of purchase 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.

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

3) If you can’t find an expiration date, 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.

To purchase replacement products, shop our site!

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 work 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.