GENERAL FAQ: Shelf-life of cosmetics


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  • Liquid Foundation, 3-6 months (Cream foundation can last 4-6 months)
  • Foundation in a bottle should last 3-6 months
    Wide mouthed jars can expose the product to more air and should be tossed sooner. You'll know it's time to purchase a new bottle, when the ingredients begin to settle or separate, the texture thickens or thins, or the smell changes.
  • Concealer, 6-8 months
  • Powders, 1 year
  • Pressed powder, eye-shadows, blush, 2-3 years
  • Mascara, 3 months
    You should never keep mascara for any longer than 3 months (air pushes bacteria back into the tube). Never "pump" your mascara.
  • Lip gloss & Lipstick, 1 year
  • Eye/Lip Pencils, 1 year
    Eye and lip pencils should last 1 year or more, but you should sharpen pencils at least once a week to prevent bacteria from being transferred to your eye area. You'll know the product has gone bad if it dries or crumbles.
  • Facial Cleansers & Moisturizers, 6 months
  • Facial Toners, 1 year
  • Natural Cosmetics, 6 months
    ("all-natural body washes", etc.)
Among other cosmetics that are likely to have an unusually short shelf life are "all natural" products that contain plant-derived ingredients (which are conducive to bacterial growth), or products with no preservatives.

Oils and bacteria get trapped in the bristles of the brushes. Wash natural-bristled brushes once a month and synthetic brushes three to four times a month. Lay the brushes flat to dry so that the bristles don't break, and to maintain the shape of the brushes. There are brush cleansers out there, but you can also use mild soap. You may also use baby shampoo to wash your brushes.

Cosmetic makeup sponges are disposable tools. Wash after every use. Toss within 1 month, or when the sponge begins to tear.


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Here's something I scanned from a magazine for more information about shelf life, and some tips as well:

[attachments are located at the bottom of this post]

Here it is, typed out, since the attachment might be too small to read:

Sight, Smell, Touch

- How does the product appear in its container?
- How does it look when applied?

- How does the product smell?
- Does it smell like it did when you first started using it, or has the scent changed?

- How does the product feel on your skin?
- Is it smooth, consistent and blendable or is it cakey, bumpy and uneven?


Signs to Look Out For

Telltale Signs it's Time to Trash:
- Liquid contents have separated
- It should be moist, but has dried up
- The surface is spotted and discoloured or particles are floating inside the container
- Pencil tips are coated white or grey
- Lids are coated with hardened product
- It's goopy, clumpy or the consistency has changed
- It smells bad
- The application is inconsistent
- The colour has changed


Products and Life Expectancy:
this info varies a bit from what was posted above,
so use your own discretion when in doubt. this is just a guideline

- liquid, water-based :: 1 year
- liquid, oil-based :: 18 months
- cream :: up to 1 year
- powder :: up to 2 years

- liquid, water based :: 1 year
- liquid, oil-based :: 18 months
- cream :: up to 1 year

- cream :: up to 1 year
- powder :: up to 2 years

- liquid :: 6 months
- cream :: up to 1 year
- pencil :: 2 years

- cream :: up to 1 year
- tube :: 3 months

- liquid :: 1 year
- cream :: up to 1 year
- powder :: up to 2 years

- pencil :: 2 years

- lipstick :: up to 2 years

- lipgloss :: 6 months

Nail Polish
- nail polish :: up to 2 years


Extend a Product's Shelf Life

- Apply it with a cotton swab, sponge or clean brush to reduce bacterial contamination
- Close lids firmly to keep air and germs out
- Store it in a dark, dry and cool place

- Apply it with your fingers
- Keep it open unless you're using it
- Store it in the bathroom. Heat and humidity cause premature aging.

And that's it! Hope that helps



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What about pigment? I know that's a powder product, however I was under the impression that pigment didn't go bad.


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Glitter is good pretty much indefinitely, as it's just plastic and metal.

Pigments can go bad, from moisture, etc. being introduced, and because MAC pigments aren't true pigments, in that they contain dyes which can decay over time. Despite these factors, they still have a shelf life of a few years.


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How long does a Tinted Lip Conditioner last? I have two and I'm not sure whether I should toss them out.

Thank you so much!


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Tinted Lip Conditioners have a shelf life of about 2 years, if used in a sanitary manner (or unused in your drawer if it's a backup).

Since they are in pots, and sanitary usage is iffy because of this, it is hard to say how long they will be good. Your best bet in this situation is to be very aware of texture/scent changes.


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Do the life expectancy dates at the top apply to things that have never been used, or just to things that have been used?


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Originally Posted by Vendetta
Do the life expectancy dates at the top apply to things that have never been used, or just to things that have been used?

These are generally after being opened. Unopened products will last slightly longer, moreso for powder products than creme products as the emulsion can separate with creme products, and they have more ingredients which can go rancid than powder products do.


This has always been a topic that bothers me, because i keep my makeup for way longer than these shelf life things reccommend. Its just that makeup is so expensive and some of it's just not used that often. My biggest crime right now is probably my concealer. Bought mine in 04/05 maybe? I stopped buying foundation because i always have to throw it out. I use concealer mixed with a little moisturiser and it works very very well. Last time i had to use it i noticed the concealer seperated a little, but i had a show to perform, so i used it anyway after a good shaking it looked fine. It does not smell funny... yet.... I think the best indicator is the smell, especially for liquidy emulsiony things. and keep your stuff clean. I wipe the concealer tip with kleenex, as well as my eyeshadow surfaces sometimes, remove the dirt. I look at how grimy some of my friend's make-up bags are, and i'm not surprised for the safety of womankind, manufacturer's reccommend such short shelf lives for products. At the end of the day, use some common sense, and treat your makeup as you would the food you eat. Store properly and it can last longer, more safely, and you can save more money to buy new stuff!


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I know how wasted I can get if I follow the guideline, cause I'd never be able to finish my makeup before it's time is up. However, I've heard that in some ways if you keep your brushes cleaning, your makeup can last longer as well.


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If you store your cosmetics like blush or eyeshadow in a humid room or bathroom, they will expire more rapidly. Keep them in a dry place, or a train case with humidity absorbing sachets like silica. You can not see bacteria, nor can you always smell moldiness.


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there are little pics on the boxes of makeup now that show how long the product lasts once it is opened.


: tells you the recommended number of months within which the product should be used after you have first opened and used it, provided the product has been stored under normal conditions and not exposed to extreme temperatures. For example (24M) means that you should replace this product within (24 months) after first opening. The “Period After Opening” number will vary based upon the type of cosmetic product.

use this as a guideline, as well as smell, taste, color, texture and constistency.

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