Guide to the shelf-life of your make-up

Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

While it can be tempting to hold on to every purchase for as long as possible, cosmetics do have expiration dates. Ignoring them could result in product reformulation, or worse, bacteria build-up so it’s important to have a regular clear out.

From mascara to foundation, keeping a hold of products past the date of their shelf life can leave you open to infections and breakouts. And you would feel a little foolish explaining that your lipstick made you ill! But if you’re not sure how long your make-up is supposed to last, read on for the shelf life of your favourite beauty products.

Make-up sponges

Blending sponges can be a host for unwanted bacteria. Ideally they should be replaced every month and washed with cleanser after every use. If you spot any deformities on the sponge or experience any unexplained breakouts on the skin, just dump it!

Mascara and eyeliner

Mascara is a huge red flag item and the one make-up item you should be most vigilant about, because it can come into contact with your eyes. As the brush is taken out, used, and put back into the tube, it brings with it any bacteria it has collected along the way. This can cause redness, itching and even conjunctivitis and styes. Most mascaras have a shelf life of four to six months, but if it’s dried out or has a different texture, colour or scent than normal, throw it away.

Similarly, liquid or pencil eyeliner should be replaced around every six months or dumped completely if you’ve had an eye infection, as they could increase the risk of developing another.

Cream shadow and blush

Creamy make-up products will only last around six months as they provide moisture for bacteria to thrive on. If you spot any mould, a smell or separation, make sure it’s headed straight to the bathroom bin.


Unless it’s a powder formula, all foundations are water-based, which means bacteria will rear its head after a while. Once opened it’s best to replace after six to 12 months. Store away from heat and the bathroom as high temperatures can encourage the growth of bacteria.

Lip gloss and lipstick

Glossy-lip girls have a year to keep slicking it on, but if it’s discoloured, or different in texture and thickness, its time is up. Lipstick lovers can use their favourite tube for up to two years, but keep a lid on it and clean with a wipe occasionally to remove the top layer of bacteria.

Concealer and face powder

Concealer, which has a shelf-life of 12 to 18, months is our go-to product for covering up blemishes but if it’s old it might cause you a few. If your concealer dries out, changes in texture, becomes cakey, lumpy or smells funny, bin it.

Most face powders will survive beyond their expiration date but you can limit contamination by lightly cleaning your compacts regularly and by not leaving it exposed to air. If it has a broken lid, mould or a musty smell, you know what to do. Dump it and treat yourself to a new one!

© Cover Media
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24