In Beauty, Home Decor

Time Saver | How to Tell If Your Makeup Is Expired

Let’s face it, in the world of deadlines, why would we want to add our makeup’s expiration to the list? If you use even a little bit of makeup, I assume you never think twice about when it expires. Yet, makeup breaking down is a real thing, with legit deadlines. Set your worries aside with my quick rule of thumb guide below. When it comes to relationships and makeup, never lower your standards.

The Expiration Tag

While the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the beauty industry, most beauty products display an expiration tag called Period After Opening, otherwise known as “PAO” (circled in red on left). PAO can be found directly on the product, or on its packaging. It’s generally displayed in months.

Some things to consider with PAO. One, how long did the product sit on the beauty store shelf before being sold? It’s often longer than one would expect. And two, not all products display a PAO sign. In that case, take a peek at my guide below to quickly gauge all your makeup.


Time: 3  – 6 Months

The rule of thumb is to toss mascara every 3 months. If you have penchant to live dangerously (or don’t have time to get a new one), you can stretch up to 4 – 6. However, if it starts to flake or clump, you know the time is up.

OurBFF Tip: To get the last of remaining product, don’t pump the wand. Simply rotate in the tube until the wand grabs enough product to apply.

All Pots / Creams / Sticks

Time: 6 Months

All pots / creams / sticks are infused with hydrating properties, providing for smooth application as well as perfect conditions for… bacteria growth.  And the possibility for germs increase when product touches fingers, brushes, etc. The rule of thumb is, if you’re double dipping in any capacity, give it 6 months max.

Liquid Foundation / Liquid Primer 

Time: 12 Months

Liquid foundations and primers are similarly infused with hydrating proprieties as creams. However, they are typically stored in containers such tubes or bottles, disallowing direct touch. Which means the product can last up to 1 year. To note, if the product starts to separate or lose consistency, toss. Be especially mindful if you use your foundation as a primary source of SPF, which will lose its protective properties as the product breaks down.

All Powders

 Time: 2 Years

All powders, regardless of product type, have a long life of 2 years given their dry consistency. Make sure to close product post use, however, to maximize shelf life. Also, don’t forget to wash your makeup brushes (and this goes for all products) to maintain good hygiene.

All Pencil Liners

Time2+ years

All pencil liners, including lip, eyebrow, and eye, can last 2+ years given you’re creating a new, clean surface every time you sharpen. For any other liners that don’t require sharpening (e.g., liquid liner), expiration falls to 6 months due to their continuous exposure to germs.

Lipstick / Lip Gloss 

Time: 1 – 2 Years

Depending on product type, most lipstick and lip gloss expires between 1 – 2 years. The key is to always close after every use. Every six months or so, use a beauty wipe to clean lipstick surface.

Natural Makeup 

Time: Varies

Natural makeup is generally manufactured without chemicals which typically provide for longer staying power. As such, all natural products will expire much quicker than their artificial counterparts. Please check the label or contact the manufacturer for more specific information regarding your natural makeup product.

OurBFF Makeup Hygiene Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t: Share your brushes or makeup with friends

Do: Keep makeup away from direct sunlight, store in a cool area

Don’t: Dilute with water or any other substance

Do: Wash your hands before applying + wash makeup brushes regularly

Get It Done. Save Time. In Style.

– Marie Krol

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