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How To Tell If Your Makeup Has Expired

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Unfortunately, just like food, your makeup has an expiration date. There’s only so much makeup you can wear every day, so the sad reality is that the fifth nude lipstick you swore you needed might expire before you have a chance to get through it. Did you know there are actually dangers to using expired makeup? If you’re lucky, the product will simply just stop applying the way it used to. Products may become streaky, uneven or just impossible to put on. In more severe cases, using the expired product can cause skin problems, such as irritation, breakouts, rash, swelling and dermatitis (which can’t all be fixed with a new bottle of foundation). 

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make sure that your makeup isn’t expired, so that your skin stays safe. As hard as it may be to throw out that expensive eyeshadow palette or blush with the beautiful packaging, it's just not worth the risk. Here’s how to ensure that all of your makeup isn’t doing more harm than good. 

1. Figure out the expiration date

Unfortunately, there are no U.S. laws that require companies to put an expiration date on products, however, many still do. Look for the PAO symbol on your packaging, which indicates how long it's safe to keep the products once you open then. A good trick for keeping up to date on this is to put a reminder in your phone for when the product will expire, that way you get a notification! If your product doesn’t indicate anything about the shelf life, here’s a quick and mostly applicable list.

Mascara: three to six months 

Eyeliner, brow pencil and lip liner : six months to one year 

Lip gloss: one year

Foundation: six months to two years 

Blush, bronzer, eyeshadow and powders: one to two years 

Lipstick and nail polish: two years

Perfume: eight to 10 years

2. Smell it 

Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh makeup? Remember when you first got that new lipstick that had the faintest hint of a vanilla to it? Well if it's over two years old or expired, theres a good chance that it no longer smells the way that it used to. Take a whiff of any products that you expect may be past a good date. If it smells foul, like gas, chemicals or just plain off (use the same judgement that you would with food), ditch it ASAP! 

3. Test the color

One of the telltale signs that your makeup has expired is if the color has changed. For instance, when it comes to that foundation that matched your skin tone perfectly, if it slowly starts to look more and more off, there's a good chance that you’re not the one changing colors–it is. Not only is this dangerous for your skin, but you’re wearing the wrong shade to boot!

Of course, how long your makeup lasts also depends on how you treat it. Always avoid touching your makeup whenever you can, and, if necessary, ensure that your hands are freshly washed and clean. Look for products with a pump so that you can avoid exposing it to outside elements. On the topic of cleanliness, don’t share your makeup with friends (as much as your bestie desperately wants to try on your new lipstick). The more careful you are with your makeup, the more time you can squeeze out of that impulse buy lipstick that you now have only short two years to use up.


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