Can You Use Expired Cosmetics?

Can You Use Expired Cosmetics

It can be a pretty tough call throwing away your favorite makeup. However, keeping the expiration dates in mind and disposing of expired cosmetics can do your skin a world of good. This post will consider whether makeup and cosmetics can expire and the possible dangers that might arise from using expired makeup.

Does Makeup Or Cosmetics Expire?

The first thing to consider is whether cosmetics can expire. Well, the answer to that is yes. Cosmetics do expire.

Most of the cosmetics on the market have a PAO (Period After Opening) symbol on the package. This is an indication of how much time you have until the makeup expires. The PAO is also known as the shelf life of the product.

Thus, if you wondered whether your cosmetics can expire, you should keep in mind that it does and will expire.

How Long Do Cosmetics Last When Unopened?

What if you simply have the cosmetics on your shelf, but you haven’t opened them? Can it still expire even though it hasn’t been opened? Let’s see.

The expiration dates that you see on cosmetics packaging are to guide you on the length of time you have after the cosmetic has been opened. It can be difficult to know when unopened products will expire since this is not usually inscribed on the package.

However, keep in mind that if you store the cosmetics in a cool, dry place, it should remain safe to use for up to three years.

This applies to most cosmetics, although there are certain exceptions. For example, if the product is creamy and contains butters or oils, it could expire earlier. This is because oil can become rancid. And if the cosmetic is made of natural components and doesn’t have a good preservative, then it can also spoil over time.

The cosmetics that you have in mind must have preservatives. But you need to keep in mind that even these might break down over time. Thus it is recommended that you never keep cosmetics for over three years – even if you haven’t opened them.

What Causes Expiration And What Happens After?

When the makeup expires, several things might happen.

Most of the time, expired cosmetics turn dry or crumble. You might be tempted to add some moisture to it to soften it up, but this is rather dangerous because it might introduce bacteria to the cosmetics.

Another thing that is often observed in expired cosmetics is that the color pigments might lose some of their vibrancy. If the cosmetics are in powder form, then it might be packed down and difficult to use.

Apart from the physical alterations, expired makeup can cause problems for the user. Some of the things that have been observed include:

  • Acne
  • Rashes
  • Eye infections
  • Sties

From when makeup or cosmetics are exposed to air, bacteria are struggling to get inside. And if it gains entry, it will continue to grow over time. Anytime you apply the cosmetics to your face, you are also spreading the bacteria to your body. This process continues unless you throw out the makeup. Therefore, you must keep your cosmetics up to date.

What Does Expired Cosmetics Do To Your Skin?

If you discover that your skin flares for no particular reason, then you should check out your cosmetics to ensure that it hasn’t expired.

When the cosmetics expire, the ingredients break down, and this can cause irritation—some of the problems that your skin might experience range from acne to dermatitis. If you use expired mascara, for example, you might have swollen eyes.

How Can You Determine Expired Cosmetics?

Well, the fastest and most reliable way of knowing whether the cosmetics have expired or not is to check the packaging. All cosmetics should come with the PAO symbol that shows how long the product will last after it has been opened. Therefore, keep in mind when you opened it.

Cosmetics are varied, and they have different shelf lives. For example, cosmetics like eye makeup have a shorter life span than others. It might come with a PAO of around six months or at most 12 months.

What if the cosmetics do not have the PAO symbol? What should you do then, and how will you know whether it is expired? Well, here are some things that you can do:

  • Smell the cosmetic. The first thing to do to know whether something is off is to smell the product. If it smells weird, then you should throw it out.
  • Check the Color. If the product has changed in color, then that might be a problem. Many concealers on the market will undergo oxidization when bad, making them change their color.
  • Check the texture. You should check out the texture of the product. If it has changed and feels different, then you should throw it away.

What About Skin Care Products?

Apart from cosmetics, skin care products can also expire. They are often marked with their date of expiration.

One of the more susceptible products is those that come in a jar. They are usually exposed to the air, which makes it pretty likely that they will get contaminated by bacteria and other things. You should look to throw them away after opening them for up to 9 months.

Skin care products that come in a pump design will last for long as they do not undergo as much contamination.

After the product has passed its expiration date, the active ingredients will lose their potency. Therefore, the product will not work as well as it should. While some skin care products might not have drastic effects on your skin, you need to be careful when dealing with sunscreen and SPF products. These can cause more serious problems if used when expired.

If you use products often, you will likely finish using the products before they expire.

When Should You Throw Cosmetics Away?

You should discard your cosmetics once it has reached the expiration date. However, you might still get some use out of it a few days after expiration.

What Are Some Guidelines?

Since there are so many things that make up cosmetics, we have considered the average guidelines that can help you with some of the more popular types of cosmetics.


The waxy layer on lipstick is quite durable and can remain good for up to a year after you have opened it before it begins to dry out. However, when using the lipstick and you notice a weird smell, then you need to throw it away. The hard wax on the lipstick might be durable, but it has a high chance of trapping bacteria. That is one of the major reasons why it is not recommended to share someone else’s lipstick.

Lip Gloss

If you open the lip gloss and use it every day, you can use it for up to a year. As with your lipstick, you should throw it away if it looks weird or it smells funny.


Mascara should be used carefully to avoid using it past the expiration period. In general, it is recommended that you don’t use mascara for more than three months. Why? Because the container of mascara is a veritable breeding spot for bacteria. If you use it for longer than that, then you run the risk of getting an infection of the skin. You might end up with pink eye or blepharitis. Also, it is quite impractical to use it past its expiration date since it will likely be clumpy already.

Eye Shadow

This is similar to mascara. The longer you have it in your possession and use it, the higher your chances of giving yourself an infection. Therefore, you should not use eye shadow for more than half a year.


When your foundation and blush look or smells strange, then the time has come to change it. Creamy products often have shorter shelf life compared to those that are in powder form.

How Can I Make Cosmetics Last Longer?

There are certain things that you can do.

  • For one, bacteria and similar organisms grow well in heat and humidity. Therefore, you should ensure that you don’t store your products in humid areas. That is why the bathroom is the wrong spot to keep your cosmetics.
  • You should look for somewhere that is cool and dry.
  • After applying cosmetics, wash your hands and applicators before you put them back into the product.
  • Avoid double-dipping as much as possible.


Cosmetics are great, and many have cosmetics that they have simply used for several years. However, you should adhere to the instructions on the package concerning expiration.

Expired cosmetics will not work as well as they should. To know when the product will expire, look out for the PAO symbol on the packaging.

With this in mind, you should be safe from problems that might arise from using expired cosmetics. We hope that these tips and information will assist you in knowing how to handle your cosmetics.

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