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How long do my make up and beauty products last?

Updated on December 28, 2013

All good things must come to an end - and your make up and beauty supplies are no different. Just like the groceries you buy each week, they come with a shelf life, a best before date and a use by date. The difference is, when you buy your cheese or loaf of bread, it comes with a clear expiration date - your make up does not. Most products now do have a small logo that give you a guideline of how long you should keep the product for but, if like me, you buy quote a lot of products, over time they accumulate and by time you get around to using them they could have already expired! This spells disaster for your skin, especially if you've got sensitive skin as it's more likely to react to the out-of-date chemicals in your products.

It's always good to make a note of when you buy a product and when you open it. You could keep a small notebook in your make up bag or use a permanent marker to make the note on the make up container itself. If you keep a note of when you started using the product, you'll easily be able to figure out how long that product will last you!

Hand-made, natural and organic products tend to have a much shorter shelf life so it's important to use them up as soon as they're opened and keep a note of when you opened them. It's always best to ask the sellers / creators how long the products shelf life is, especially for those which need to be kept refrigerated (usually natural face masks).

How long does make up last for?

Mascara/Liquid Eyeliner

3 – 6 months but no longer than that. These are products going straight on the most sensitive area of your face, your eyes! Reactions from out of date products can cause the eye lids to swell painfully. If your mascara starts to dry out or smell funny then put it straight in the bin and treat yourself to a new one!

Pencil Eye liner

Longer lasting than liquid eyeliners, you’ll get around 18 months – 2 years out of a pencil eyeliner. Be sure to keep your eye liner sharpener away from your coloring pencils and keep it clean by washing in warm water after use. Make sure you re-cap the eyeliner properly too and consider storing your sharpener in a small zip lock bag.


You’ll be surprised to know that eye-shadows can last up to 4 years! This is especially good news for those who buy the larger palettes. Be sure to keep your eye shadow brushes very clean! Clean them after every use, and regularly deep clean all of your brushes. Keep your palette clean too, removing excess/loose powder and try not to lose the lids!

Blush and face powders

You’ll get around 12 months out of your face powders before it’s time to start a fresh. Again, clean, clean, clean your brushes! I find that clogged face powder puffs and brushes are the worst offenders for causing my acne to break out.

Liquid Foundation

Liquids last around 6 months. If they start to go overly thick and lumpy before hand then it’s time to throw them away. Keep the nozzles as clean as possible as germs will gather around. A quick wipe with a facial wipe or baby wipe after use is a good idea. If the nozzle becomes clogged then wrap a bobby pin in tissue and clean it out.

Lip Products

Lipsticks can last up to 12 months; lip glosses usually a little less. I find that many lip glosses tend to start smelling a little ‘out of character’ when they’ve been open too long. If your lip stick feels dry or is not applying smoothly then it’s usually a sign that it’s coming close to the end of it’s shelf life.

Nail Polish

Nail polish is a little funny, some brands will last up to two years, and others will start to develop a watery film and discoloration after 6 months. Look for brands that use larger beads in the bottles, they break up and smooth the varnish. Keep your brushes smooth by putting them back in the bottles gently; wonky bristles give a wonky coat!


How do I clean my make-up brushes?

  • Clean your brushes after every use to reduce the collection and build up of dead skin cells, dirt and make up. Use a specific brush cleaner or warm water and a mild baby shampoo. Allow to air dry and ensure they are completely dry before you use them.
  • When your brushes start to lose bristles in abundance it's time to buy some new ones. There are some great ranges out there at the minute that offer hypo-allergenic brushes, great for those with sensitive skin.
  • Hand made and organic make up will have a reduced shelf life so ask the retailer for an estimated expiration date!
  • As much as you love a certain product, it's always better to invest in a fresh one than run the risk of using something out of date.
  • Consider setting reminders in your phone a week or so before a product is due to expire - that way if it's still in use you will know to buy a new one!

Don't forget...

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    • Saloca profile image

      Saloca 5 years ago from Liverpool, UK

      @Vivolooks it's always worth going through your make up bag at least every 6 months and getting rid of what's not looking so good any more, empty or that hasn't been used since the last time you cleared your make up bag! It's also a brilliant excuse to make room to buy some new beauty goodies! Thanks for the comment :)

    • profile image

      Vivolooks 5 years ago

      Got me thinking about my make up bag ...wat needs to go...