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  • The Only Expiration Guide You Need for Makeup and Skin Care Products

    When you need to throw out your lip gloss, mascara, foundation, powders, and more
    by Karla Magno Suguitan .
The Only Expiration Guide You Need for Makeup and Skin Care Products
  • When was the last time you cleaned up the stuff in your kikay kit? And when was the last time you cleared out old facial wash or moisturizers that you hoarded in your bathroom? 

    Bacteria, grime, and dirt accumulate pretty quickly on your beauty products when you use them daily. But it also happens when you've kept them in storage for a long time. Even if you don't spot any trace of dirt, germs can spread from and linger on these items with constant contact with your skin, and for lip products, your saliva. It is why it is a cardinal sin to share makeup even with your sisters or BFF. 

    According to Jaycee Matias, artist training, and development manager of MAC Cosmetics, product expiration dates vary per brand or manufacturer so make sure to ask the beauty advisers at the boutique or check for information online regarding these two factors before you buy:

    Period after opening
    “Some products must be used within a specific period after opening due to oxidation and other hygienic factors,” Matias says. “Check products for an icon of an open jar with a number inside, representing the number of months it can last after first use.”

    Production Date
    “Even unopened cosmetics lose their efficacy over time. It is a common practice of manufacturers to print the expiration date only on products with less than 30 months shelf life,” Matias says. So make sure just to buy what you need (stop hoarding!) and use shortly after purchase. Be assured that most, if not all, retailers routinely do inventory clearing of products from old production batches, so they are not sold to consumers. But some items can fall through the cracks, so it's always wise to double check.

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    For products that are already in your beauty collection, here's a general guide to their period of product freshness: 

    Unopened: 3 years from production date
    After opening: 3-6 months
    Stop pumping your mascara wand in and out of the tube as this pushes air in that may bring bacteria into the enclosed barrel. 

    Eyeliner (Liquid)
    Unopened: 3 years from production date
    After opening: 6 months - 1 year
    Wipe the tip with a paper towel after using on eyes with eyeshadow as the powder particles may cause the applicator to clog or clump causing uneven application. No one wants a jagged cat eye. 

    Brow pencils and Eye Kohls
    Unopened: 3 years from production date
    After opening: 1-2 years
    Sharpen the tip religiously to avoid scratching your eyes and to keep the product fresh. Always replace cap after use. 

    Lipstick and lip pencil
    Unopened: 3 years from production date
    After opening: 1-2 years
    Same with brow pencils, keep them sharp. If you just can't resist sharing a gorgeous shade with a friend, dip the tip of the product in 70% isopropyl alcohol and wipe on a paper towel to sanitize.

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    Lip gloss
    Unopened: 3 years from production date
    After opening: 6-9 months
    Like mascara, this is the most susceptible for breeding bacteria, so it's best applied when the mouth is clean (think: after brushing teeth in the morning) and avoid using after you've just eaten, so the food residue doesn't live inside the tube. 

    Unopened: 3 years from production date
    After opening: 1-2 years
    Don't hoard your foundation as skin tends to go lighter or darker with different seasons. Go for foundations with a pump or dropper applicator as it does not expose the product to air as much as those in jars would and it also gives you more control on the amount of product you need at a given time. 

    Powders (eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, contour powder)
    Unopened: 5 years from production date
    After opening: 1-2 years
    Avoid using cosmetics when skin is not prepped and clean. Dipping a brush or sponge on a pan from an oily face deposits grease that can accumulate and develop a sheen on the top layer, rendering it dry and unusable. When this happens, use a paper towel to scrape the surface to reveal the powder from underneath lightly.


    Unopened: 3 years from production date
    After opening: 1 year

    Unopened: 5 years from production date
    After opening: 5 years or moreLike a fine wine, some fragrances develop their scent over time so keep it in a dry and dark cabinet or drawer away from heat sources. 

    After opening: It depends. Properly cared for brushes can last you a long time. Toss when it sheds as it will not deposit product evenly and can also irritate skin. 
    Do a deep clean once a week using a brush cleanser. A cheaper option? Dishwashing liquid. Makeup artists use this to strip away oils effectively from the bristles and keep it smelling fresh. 

    Beauty sponge
    After opening: Supposedly, every other month, even for the durable kind like Beauty Blenders. But disposable wedge sponges should be binned after one go. 
    Beauty sponges are not exactly cheap, so extend their life by making sure to clean after each use. Toss when it's crumbly and discolored. 

    What can trump any of the above tips? The smell test. Stale cosmetics and overused tools develop a pungent or rancid smell indicating their unsuitability for further use. If this is the case, throw it out, stat! Some products do not produce a sting, but if the scent differs from the original, that should also serve as a red flag. Just like what they say when it comes to food when in doubt, throw it out.


    Karla Magno Suguitan, who used to manage various brands from a Spanish high street fashion house to an American cosmetics line, is now a stay-at-home mom to Sophie Ella and wifezilla to John. In her free time, she enjoys watching vlogs, reading books, making grocery lists, and consulting Dr. Google for all things baby. She blogs at thebunnybunchblog.wordpress.com.

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