A Breakdown on Makeup’s Expiration Dates

makeup brushes

FogStock/Alin Dragulin

We all have a general idea and understanding of when it’s time to get rid of certain makeup. It’s sad to see it thrown away, sitting on top of the wastebasket, but you know it has to be done. Sometimes you can tell by the consistency, other times it’s more of a guessing game. We’ve broken it down for you in simple laymen’s terms to keep you from playing and losing that (sometimes dangerous) game. With the help from some top beauty experts, here is a simple breakdown on your makeup’s expiration date.

Liquid Foundation and Concealer Lifespan: 8-12 months
“Being a liquid means that germs love to live there,” expert makeup artist Ashley Donovan tells us. You’ll be able to tell it’s time to toss when the solution becomes watery and begins to separate. She explains that applying foundation or concealer that is past its prime can lead to skin irritations or breakouts.

Powder Lifespan: 1-2 years
The powder solution lasts double the amount of time than its liquid counterpart. Donovan assures that powder solutions have the longest shelf life of any product in your makeup bag. However, she advises that you read the ingredients, and if the formula contains any water, she recommends sticking to the one year rule, just to be safe.

Cream Blush Lifespan: 1 year
While cream blush may not necessarily be completely a liquid-like concealer, it maintains its cream texture from water. This is a time when you want to follow the one- year rule.

MORE: Natural vs. Synthetic: Which Makeup Brushes to Use

Powder Blush Lifespan: 2 years
Also a powder, it maintains a long shelf life. To keep bacteria from spreading, celebrity makeup artist Carrie LaMarca recommends keeping your brushes clean, which she recommends doing every 1-2 weeks with mild soap and water.

Eyeshadow Lifespan: 2 years
Eyeshadows will last multiple years. LaMacara explains that you can tell it’s time to toss it when your palette becomes dry and flaky. In order to minimize bacteria, Donovan has a great trick for all powders. “You can mist your powders, blushes, and eyeshadows with alcohol to keep contamination to a minimum. I do this between clients.”

Pencil Eyeliner Lifespan: 2 years
Pencil is the longest lasting eyeliner because when you sharpen it, you remove the dirty surface layer. However, that means it’s important to keep your sharpener sanitized with alcohol.

Liquid Eyeliner Lifespan: 3-4 months
Donovan explains how liquid eyeliner should be treated similarly to mascara, especially since it comes directly in contact with your eyes. Since there is no way to sanitize liquid liner, it should be tossed after 3-4 months.

MORE: What to Do When Your Favorite Makeup Brand Has Been Discontinued

Mascara Lifespan: 2-3 months
Mascara has the shortest lifespan of any product in your makeup bag. Donovan exclaims the importance of not using expired mascara, saying, “It is a breeding ground for bacteria.” She explains how every time you open and pump air into the tube, you are contaminating it with germs that could lead to eye irritations. LaMarca says to keep an eye out for clumpy, dry texture and possible bad smell to know when it’s time to say goodbye. Also, unless you’re using a disposable wand, do not share with other people.

Lipstick and Lip Gloss Lifespan: 2 years
When a lipstick becomes dry it’ll be difficult to apply, which means it’s time to toss it. When the gloss becomes tacky and hard to separate, it’s past its prime.

Nail Polish Lifespan: No specific shelf life, as long as stored properly
Nail polish doesn’t have a specific amount of time until expiration. You can tell it’s time to toss a bottle by a change in texture. Jolene Brodeur, celebrity manicurist, explains nail polish can begin to “look clumpy, thick or gooey or even spoiled by discoloration.” Brodeur advises to store polishes in cool dry space and use nail polish thinner to keep polishes longer. Try OPI’s Nail Lacquer Thinner. Expert manicurist Sunshine Outing explains the effects of using expired nail polish. “It will result in non-lasting affects.” The consistency can be thick which makes it hard to apply. It can peel off, chip very easily or just take a long time to dry.”