The shelf life of your favorite makeup products

If I think I’ve found the perfect red lipstick or eye shadow with just the right amount of pigment and sparkle, I stock up on it and keep it around forever. I’m pretty sure I have lip glosses from high school somewhere. Celebrity makeup artist Robin Watson-Hamilton explains that’s probably not the best idea. Not only will old products perform badly-- uneven coverage, clumpy clown lashes-- but by using them, you’re spreading bacteria around your face and eyes. Gross, right? You see, just like food, makeup expires— even though there’s no date stamped on the front to tell you when. In this episode, Watson-Hamilton talks us through exactly how long we should hold on to lipsticks, foundations, powders and glosses, and she gives us her tips and tricks for making them last as long as possible.

Since makeup products don’t have expiration dates like cartons of milk it can be confusing to know how long a product can and should last. Celebrity makeup artist Robin Watson-Hamilton gives us a tutorial on how to tell when a product is in top form and when to say goodbye.

Foundation and concealer

After you’ve opened the bottle, you can keep these around for 12 months-- max. When air hits a product, especially one that’s water-based, bacteria starts to form immediately. If the liquid starts to smell funny or separate before 12 months time, drop it in the trash.


Mascara and liquid liner

Every time you coat your lashes with the mascara wand or liner brush and dip it back into the product, you're spreading bacteria. Be strict with yourself about replacing these products every four months, even if they’re not empty or you risk an eye infection.

Pencil eye and lip liner

If you sharpen your pencils every two to three weeks, which is the best way of “cleaning” them, you can keep a pencil around for up to three years.


Pressed powder

Eye shadows, blushes, bronzers, and face powders can last up to two or three years if you keep them closed and dry. If you notice dark spots or bumps, it’s time to discard.



Lipstick with a wax-based formulation can last up to four years. A creamy lipstick can last two years at the most. If a lipstick is dry, crumbly, or has a dubious scent-- you know what to do.


Lip gloss

Gloss has a much shorter shelf life than lipstick-- one year. To extend the life of your glosses, use a makeup brush to apply them instead of your finger. You’ll add another year as you’re keeping the bacteria away.


Do you have any makeup questions for Robin? Post them on our Facebook wall and we’ll get you answers.


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