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Beauty Dilemmas – Is Your Makeup Out of Date?

Rebecca Varley
ReallyRee Editor

If, like me, you’re a makeup magpie and the sight of a bag or box full of shiny lipstick tubes, colourful palettes and glossy bottles brings you untold joy, then I have bad news for you. However gorgeous your hoarded makeup might look on your bathroom shelf, you might also be collecting a beautiful assortment of bacteria waiting to wage war on your face. So, Is Your Makeup Out of Date?

How come? Sadly, as with a cupboard full of food, a bag full of makeup has a limited shelf life.  Once cosmetics reach a certain age, not only can they start to deteriorate and not look as good as they should, they can actually cause irritation or infection too.

So how long does makeup last? How long is it ok to hoard your favourite beauty products for?


Is Your Makeup Out of Date

Is Your Makeup Out of Date? – Mascara

Two things make beauty products go off quickly: how moist they are and how close to our eyes they are used. This makes mascara the number one culprit for causing infection in our makeup bags and means that it has the shortest shelf life of all our beauty products. Not only that, but out of date mascara clogs your lashes making you look spider eyed too.

Make your mascara last longer by never pumping the brush to coat it with product and always closing it tightly after use. Never add liquid to a clumpy mascara to try and thin it out- you’ll just thin the preservatives and make its shelf life even shorter.

Shelf Life: 3 months

Top Tip: Never, ever share mascara!

We Love: Benefit They’re Real! here

Lipstick & Lip Gloss

Is Your Makeup Out of Date - Lipstick

Is Your Makeup Out of Date – Lipstick

Although lipsticks and glosses might make your lips look luscious, bear in mind that they don’t last forever. Glosses generally don’t last as well as lipsticks- especially those that use a wand for application as they allow bacteria to enter the tube and then multiply.

Generally, when a lipstick starts to go off you’ll notice a change in texture, smell or colour so you’ll know it’s time for a replacement.

Shelf Life: 1-2 years on average

Top Tip: Never leave lipsticks in a hot place, they’ll sweat, melt and generally deteriorate a lot faster than if kept in the cool and dark.

We love: Red Carpet Red by Charlotte Tilbury here


Is Your Makeup Out of Date - Foundation

Is Your Makeup Out of Date – Foundation

There’s no point spending your hard earned cash on a foundation to make your skin look flawless, only to have it harbour bacteria and give you a face full of spots. Avoid this by choosing products that don’t let you transfer bacteria into them; pump dispensers and bottles are best.

Powder foundation lasts longer than liquid because of the low moisture content, but bear in mind that when it comes to foundation it isn’t just the foundation itself that can harbour the nasties. Brushes and sponges are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so clean them weekly and replace sponges frequently to avoid any issues.

Shelf Life: 12 months for liquid, 2 years for powder.

Top Tips: Tip foundation onto the back of your hand, rather than dipping your fingers into the bottle. This will keep the bacteria out of the bottle and make your precious products last longer.

We love: YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint Foundation here

Powder Palettes

Is Your Makeup Out of Date

Is Your Makeup Out of Date – Palettes

There’s nothing lovelier to use in the world of cosmetics than a soft, buttery pressed powder that glides over the skin, leaving a trail of shimmering colour in its wake. Sadly, as pressed powders get older their moisture content evaporates and that soft butteriness can turn to a dry, crumbling consistency telling you it’s time to ditch the palette.

However, this deterioration takes a while to happen and when it comes to palettes how long you keep them should really be dependent on where they are used. Blushers and translucent finishing powders will last longer than those used closest to the eyes, but even powder eyeshadows last a lot longer than mascaras because of their low moisture content.

Shelf Life: Two Years

Top Tip: Always close the lids on your powder palettes after use to stop the moisture in the powder evaporating.

We love: Morphe Eyeshadow Palettes here


Is Your Makeup Out of Date - Perfumes

Is Your Makeup Out of Date – Perfumes

Fortunately for those of us that like to have several bottles of scent on the go at any one time, perfume can be one of the longest lasting of all beauty products. The key to keeping it smelling lovely is all in the storage. UV light and heat make perfume deteriorate, so keep it out of direct sunlight and somewhere that’s reasonably cool.

A dressing table full of gorgeous perfume bottles might look amazing, but the scents themselves won’t stay that way for long if they are out in the light- the best place to store perfume is in a dark drawer or cupboard where UV light can’t get to them.

Shelf Life: 2-8 years depending where you store them

Top Tip: Never keep your perfume in the bathroom. Frequent changes in temperature and humidity will make your scent go off far quicker.

We Love: Tom Ford Soleil Blanc here

Although even unopened makeup has a limited shelf life, remember that the clock for a product’s shelf life starts ticking on the day that it is opened.


Unless otherwise indicated products reviewed are press or brand samples. Links may be affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase through one of our links we receive a small commission which helps support and run this website.

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