SPRING CLEANING: A Quick Makeup Expiration Guide - Ellana Cosmetics

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SPRING CLEANING: A Quick Makeup Expiration Guide

SPRING CLEANING: A Quick Makeup Expiration Guide

Tell us honestly: Have you, at least once, continued to use makeup that’s way past its expiration date? We don’t blame you if you have; in fact, some of us are just as guilty.

Take foundations, for example — sometimes we don’t even get to finish the full bottle or pan. We then altogether ignore the telltale signs of expiration and hang on to it even though it’s over its shelf life. This, of course, takes a toll on our skin.

This is unhygienic, to say the least; just like your home, your makeup kit needs regular spring cleaning!

Today, we quickly go through the risks of expired makeup, its effect on your overall skin health, and what we can do to keep things sanitized so our makeup doesn’t go off ahead of its original expiration date.


When makeup expires, its original composition is altered; ingredients break down and are no longer as effective as they once claimed to be. Expired makeup cultivates bacteria, which can cause skin inflammation (manifesting through redness or rashes) or trigger acne, bumps, and swelling… You’d be lucky to avoid a skin infection!

All it takes to avoid a nasty skin dilemma: Do a quick audit of your makeup and check if expiration dates are indicated! If you can’t find expiry information, the general rules when it comes to shelf life are:

  • 3 months for mascara
  • 6 months for eyeliner and eyeshadows
  • 1 to 1 ½ years for lipstick (that’s 12 to 18 months)
  • 6 to 12 months for liquid makeup, like foundation and concealer
  • 12 to 18 months years max for powders, blush, and other dry-format makeup products


If your makeup doesn’t indicate an expiration date and you’ve forgotten how long you’ve had it, don’t panic just yet. Here are some telltale signs to know if you should stop using these products:

  • For your daily liquid foundation and concealer, any change in color, smell, and texture should ring alarm bells, especially if you’ve been using them for months. 
  • Powder format products like pressed foundation, loose foundation, blush, and eyeshadow last longer than liquid formulas, but aren't exempt from expiration. Some signs of a powder going off: a rim of somewhat hardened powder in the container (a sign of oil and residue buildup), as well as a dull gray film or chalky texture that eventually develops over the product’s surface.
  • Expired eye makeup can cause pink-eye or conjunctivitis! Regularly check your eyeshadow for a change in texture, smell, or the development of a dull surface film. For mascara, watch out for clumping or an unusual, gasoline-like smell, which is also present in expired liquid eyeliners. Meanwhile, eyeliner and eyebrow pencils develop a white film on the tip that can’t be sharpened off.
  • Telltale signs of expiration in lipstick: A change in texture (too dry or too streaky) that makes it hard to spread on your lips, plus the presence of a musty, oil-like smell.


Your skin’s health is greatly affected not only by your skincare regimen, but also by the tools and makeup that you use. We can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure that whatever you apply on your face is in good condition and well within its shelf life period.

One tip is to store products and tools in a cool, dry place where bacteria is less likely to breed. Also, as much as possible, avoid using your fingers to apply makeup! This is where brushes and hypoallergenic makeup sponges come in — using clean tools instead of your fingers helps prevent product contamination. We recommend spot-cleaning before and after use with an instant-dry antibacterial brush cleaner to remove oil, old makeup residue, and dead skin.

Along with all these precautions, it’s important to make sure you keep your face clean and clear after wearing makeup. We like cleansing off makeup at the end of the day with the Take It Easy Facial Cleanser and Makeup Remover, which helps rejuvenate and ready skin for our usual soothing end-of-day wash and skincare routine. 

The bottom line: When makeup doesn’t seem to have the same appearance and texture as when you first bought it, its time is probably up. So rummage through that kit and toss what needs to go — it’s always better to be safe than sorry! 

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