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how long does makeup last

Makeup can go bad. I’m sure on some level we all know this, but some of us would rather hang on to our favorite shade of lipstick or that perfect gel eyeliner pen far longer than is healthy. All makeup has a shelf-life, and it varies from product to product.

Two helpful tips for detecting old makeup? The first one is to look for the PAO symbol, which stands for “Period After Opening”. It tells you, in months or years, how long until you should stop using the product. Can’t find the PAO symbol? If your product has changed shade, texture, or smell, it’s a good idea to stop using it. Still can’t decide if you should put down the mascara wand and step away from the makeup bag? Here are the makeup expiration dates you need to know.


Throw Away After: 1 year

This is where the magic starts, skin wise, and you’ll be happy to know that your cleanser can last up to a year. This is definitely a product that should have a PAO (period after opening) symbol on it, but just keep an eye out for discoloration, change of texture, or bad packaging, and you should be able to get your money’s worth from your cleanser!

Foundation and Concealer

Throw Away After: 6 months – 1 year

Depending on whether you use a liquid or powder, you can get a lot of use out of your foundation and concealer. Liquid versions can last anywhere from six months to a year, but buying a pump version can make it last a little longer as the makeup isn’t exposed to the air or as much bacteria. Powder versions can actually last up to two years as their surface doesn’t encourage bacteria to grow, but you should still make sure you clean your brushes regularly!


Throw Away After: 3-6 months

Whatever you do, do not pump the mascara wand back into the tube to coat it with more mascara. This just lets more air in, which dries out the mascara and accelerates the rate that the mascara will “go bad”. Depending on use, mascara should be thrown out anywhere from three to six months after you open the tube – you’ll notice clumping on the brush and in the formula. Do not add water, just move on.


Throw Away After: 6 months

Liquid eyeliner follows the same rules as liquid concealer, because they use similar agents to keep the formula in it’s liquid form and bacteria-free. Changes in texture, color, smell? Throw it out. The pencils last longer, because you need to sharpen them often to keep that nice line. So keep the pencil sharp and the lid on tight and your pencil could last up to a year (same applies to eyebrow pencils).

Related Post: How To Clean Makeup Brushes The Right Way


Throw Away After: 1-2 years

Lipsticks contain hydrating agents that should keep them fresh and easy to apply for up to two years – as long as you keep the lid on. Don’t leave lipstick out, as they will begin to dry out. Cosmopolitan actually advises minimizing contact with your lips by using a brush as an applicator, as this will minimize the bacteria you transfer back and forth onto the makeup. Cleaning with makeup wipes or a spritz of alcohol will also keep your lipstick clean and make it last longer.

Eyeshadow and Blush

Throw Away After: 6 months – 2 years

Cream eyeshadows are subject to the same issues as liquid foundation – the stuff that keeps them easy to apply also makes them susceptible to bacteria build-up and drying out. That said, your powder eyeshadows and blushes can last up to two years – hurray! Just don’t expose the powder to the air for longer than necessary – broken or cracked lids mean you need to throw them away.

Natural Products

Throw Away After: 3-6 months

If you have sensitive skin, allergies, or are just trying to avoid makeup with unpronounceable ingredients, just be warned that natural products have a shorter shelf-life! They have less of the preservatives that keep them fresh, so they will dry out or “go bad” quicker than other brands.

So next time you crack open that new bottle of foundation or dash your brush through that perfect compact powder, make note of the date, and maybe take a look through the rest of your makeup bag for the products you really need to part with.

Related Post: How To Do Cat Eye Eyeliner | Beauty School


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