Beauty & Fashion

What’s the Worst that Can Happen When You Use Expired Makeup?

Expiration dates are essential when it comes to things like food and beverages. But what about makeup? Should you throw away your favorite palette while half of it is still unused because of a mere date?

The short answer to that is yes. While throwing out your favorite eyeshadow palette because it has reached the end of its shelf-life is tough, it’s for your own good.

Expired makeup may seem harmless, but in reality, it does more harm than good. Read on to see why it’s not worth the risk.


The Harm of Using Expired Makeup

It’s no secret that makeup makes us feel good. About 82% of women believe wearing makeup makes them feel more confident. This leads us to hold onto our expired makeup, especially if it cost us a pretty penny. This often raises the question, what’s the worst that can happen when you use expired makeup?

For starters, most makeup products contain preservatives to help ward off bacteria that you may introduce to the product when you dab your applicator on it. In fact, most pharmaceutical brand creams have no active ingredients after one year. However, once the product expires, the preservatives break down and the entire product can become a haven for bacteria.

What does that mean for you? When it comes into contact with your skin, the bacteria in it will cause irritation. In some cases, it can lead to dermatitis, also known as skin inflammation. This will, in turn, cause:

  • Bumps or adult acne
  • Excessive oiliness
  • Skin redness
  • A rash
  • Dry patches, or even skin swelling

If the makeup gets into your eyes, it can also cause problems. For instance, expired mascara, eyeliner, or eye shadow can cause pink eye. You may also experience swelling by using expired lipstick. If you use expired sunscreen, you will get sunburnt because the SPF becomes less effective.

In a nutshell, using makeup that is past its shelf life is never a good idea. While it cannot kill you, it will bring you a host of skin problems and cause a significant setback in your skincare journey. Furthermore, it doesn’t even apply well.

For instance, the expired foundation becomes uneven and won’t look as good as you expect it to be. It’s a better idea to go makeup-free as you’ll be exposing yourself to a ton of problems, and won’t look even as lovely as you’d want to be when you rock good makeup.

How to Identify Expired Makeup

Now that you understand the impact of expired makeup, how exactly do you separate the bad from the good in your makeup kit? This usually depends on the general shelf life of that particular product, as well as the brand. On that note, check out the telltale signs of different expired makeup products below.


Among all makeup products, mascara usually has the shortest shelf life. If it goes unused, it can last for about two years. However, few people have stocks of mascara in their closet. Most of us break it open as soon as we buy the product; unfortunately, the shelf life of mascara products from most brands is usually three months.

Once it reaches this mark, it tends to dry out and become flaky, so it doesn’t deliver the desired effect. Also, it tends to have this weird smell that wasn’t there before. The easiest way to tell it’s time to trash your mascara is when it comes out dry, over-clumped, and tends to flake off once you apply it to your lashes.


Your eyeliner generally has a longer shelf life than mascara. Depending on the brand, most liquid eyeliners often last between three to six months. Eye pencil, on the other hand, can last for six to 12 months, depending on how regularly you sharpen it.

Liquid eyeliner is often the most problematic, and it’s recommended you change it at around four to six months. Similar to mascara, it tends to dry out and get a weird smell once it expires. As a result of drying out, the wax also tends to become too hard, so it doesn’t apply smoothly. Remember that since you apply it closer to your eyes, eyeliner is even more dangerous to use when expired. This is one of the many reasons it’s essential to take off your makeup every night before bed. Since 45% of people have trouble falling asleep, sticking to a regular routine can help you get in the right headspace to rest for the night.

Eye Shadow and Blush

Due to their powdery and dry nature, products like eye shadow and blush will often last a little longer. If you store properly and use only clean applicators, blush can last up to three years (if you don’t use it regularly).

Note, this doesn’t apply to cream blush: these will only last for a year. Similar to blush, eye shadow can also serve you for up to two years, but only if it’s properly maintained.

An easy way to tell whether your dry eye shadow and blush have expired is if they become too hard and challenging to apply. As for cream blush, it also tends to have a funky odor.


Most lipstick and lip gloss products usually have a shelf life of up to one year. It’s also relatively easy to tell when lipstick has failed the test of time as it tends to dry out and doesn’t glide smoothly when you apply.

As for lip gloss, it tends to develop this weird, chemical-like smell. Note your lips have the thinnest skin on your body and tend to become easily irritated. Therefore, it is wise that you throw out that lipstick the moment it reaches the one-year mark.


What about the mother of all makeup products? Most foundations can last anywhere from six months to 12 months. However, once it expires and the preservatives are no longer in play, the ingredients in a foundation tend to separate. The oily ingredients rise to the top while the rest are on the lower layer.

This layering phenomenon is the easiest way to tell your foundation has run its course. Using a foundation that has a higher concentration of oil will consequently clog your pores and cause breakouts.

Note, foundation products can expire even before the six months, especially if it’s packaged in a way that you must dip your finger in it. To ensure it attains it’s shelf life, try to squirt it out and keep your fingers away from the neck of the bottle. The same case applies for concealers as well.

What Should You Do When Your Skin Reacts to Expired Makeup Products?

The first thing you should do once you note an allergic reaction is to stop using the product. If you are experiencing any of the side effects of expired makeup mentioned earlier, such as swelling, redness, itchiness, and inflammation, follow the following steps to calm your skin down:

  • Wash your face or any other part of the body you may have applied the product on to stop the reaction
  • Cold compress to ease the itchiness, redness, and swelling
  • Get an over the counter hydrocortisone cream for the irritation
  • Invest in a specialized moisturizer to stop the inflammation
  • Take an antihistamine to ease itchiness, swelling, and redness

Keep in mind that some of these issues can occur with perfectly good makeup. Some chemicals might not work with your skin or burning 500 calories on a hike can cause irritation from the sweat. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you’re wearing perfectly good makeup but still suffer from irritation.

It is hard to part ways with your makeup. After all, the cosmetics market will be worth an estimated $800 billion by 2023, with number on par with that of the growing hair extension market. While it might seem like the industry is trying to get you to buy more products, these expiration dates are meant to keep you safe. After all, you wouldn’t drink expired milk: why use expired makeup on your delicate skin? Regardless of how good your foundation looks, if it has reached its shelf life, then it’s time to trash it and shop for a new one.


Welcome to the Night Helper Blog. The Night Helper Blog was created in 2008. Since then we have been blessed to partner with many well-known Brands like Best Buy, Fisher Price, Toys "R" US., Hasbro, Disney, Teleflora, ClearCorrect, Radio Shack, VTech, KIA Motor, MAZDA and many other great brands. We have three awesome children, plus four adorable very active grandkids. From time to time they too are contributors to the Night Helper Blog. We enjoy reading, listening to music, entertaining, travel, movies, and of course blogging.

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