As Green Monsters, we try to get the most use out of products as possible, and we do not like to waste things. Unfortunately, this mentality could manifest in a drawer full of old make up products that have seen far better days. Flaky, crusty, goopy, ridden with bacteria…old makeup is yucky and unsafe to use on your skin. Could you be applying cosmetics products that are expired?

Why You Should Track Your Cosmetics’ Shelf Life 

You should never use makeup that is past its prime because it’s unhealthy! Bacteria can form on cosmetics, which you then smear all over your face and into your skin pores. “Using expired or old cosmetics can expose individuals to allergies like skin hypersensitivity, skin redness, and irritation,” said dermatologist Dr. Shankar Sawant to Expired Cosmetics. “Use of expired cosmetics can also cause skin pigmentation.” For your skin’s health, it’s best to toss old products and prevent this wasteful (but necessary) action by making strides to use a whole product BEFORE its expiration time hits.


The expiration date may not always be listed on the package, because cosmetic companies are not required to put them on the products the way food companies are. Instead, you have to pay attention to how much time has passed since you opened the product. Below are some ways to tell if your make up is past its prime.

Signs Your Makeup is Past its Prime
Idhren/ Flickr

Lightened Liquid Foundation

You should not be using the same tube of foundation or concealer for more than one year. The shelf life of your foundation is between six and 12 months. A good way to tell if it has gone bad is if the color has lightened or if the product has separated into layers.

Dry Lipstick and Sticky Lip Gloss

Lipstick has a shelf life of about two years, whereas lipgloss has a shelf life of one year. You can tell if either product has gone bad if the gloss is super sticky or if the lipstick has become dry.


Clumpy Mascara

This might surprise you: a tube of mascara has a shelf life of only two or three months! We know you probably want to keep using that product until it runs dry, but if it is starting to clump or smells strange, you need to stop using it.

Flaky Eyeshadow

Eyeshadow has a shelf life of two years. If your powder has become more dry and flaky over time, that is a sign you need to toss it.

Non-Blendable, Layered Nail Polish

Your nail polish can sit in that bathroom medicine cabinet for one to two years. If your nail polish has separated into layers that will not blend back together after you shake the bottle, your product has probably gone bad. To make your nail polish last longer, use a nail polish thinner.

A Note on Buying and Tossing Cosmetics

We don’t like to unnecessarily throw away items, but if you would toss a food item after it has gone rancid,  you apply the same mentality to your make up. To prevent this, keep the expiration windows in mind and shop smart. Here are some tips to consider:


  • Open and use one mascara tube at a time. If you buy several types of mascara then open all them, ask yourself if you really use them all up within two to three months. Use one tube and do not open another until the other has run out or expired. Remember the shelf life is only two to three months!
  • Instead of having dozens of small eye shadow pots, pick a pallete or two and vow to use only those colors until they run out, when you can then treat yourself to new colors.
  • If you know that you will not get through a cosmetic product before it expires, consider sharing, but remember: two people should never use the same brush, sponge or wand. You would need to buy extra applicators if you want to share.
  • Part of the fun of makeup is choosing different colors, but it’s definitely easy to buy too much that we’ll never be able to use fully before it expires. Take your color addiction and challenge yourself to eat a fruit or veggie instead of buying that extra eyeshadow! You’d be eating healthier and buying less stuff. Win win!
  • Check out these awesome vegan cosmetic brandsthese brands and these 10 Cosmetic Brands That are Helping the Environment.

Lead image source: AngieSix/ Flickr