Cosmetic Expiration Guidelines

Cosmetic Expiration Guidelines And What You Need To Know

Cosmetic expiration guidelines are important to know about.

While many makeup products do come with expiration dates printed on the packaging, you must remember that the shelf life of a product, once it is opened, may not accurately reflect that date. You may not use certain products all that frequently, so it is important to know what to look for if resurrecting an old product from the back of the medicine cabinet. My general rule of thumb is, if you notice any changes in the colour, texture, or smell of a product, whatever it may be, toss it. There are many different cosmetic expiration guidelines and they are all dependant on the product.

Cosmetic Expiration Guidelines: What You Need To Know

Nail Polish

If you store it properly (cool, dry, dark place – some people even use the fridge!), expect that your nail polish can last you up to a year. After approximately eight or nine months, check for fading or separation. These characteristics will result in your polish not going on smoothly and/or chipping easily. When mixing a bottle of polish before using, be sure to gently roll it in between your palms as opposed to violently shaking it.


With every spritz, air gets into the bottle. The resulting oxidation will cause a slight change in the scent, but it is usable for up to two years.


Although many bottles are labeled with expiration dates, sunscreen is usually good for up to one year after it has been opened. Trust your senses and watch for separation, discolouration, or change in smell.


Mascara is good for about three months. If you find that there is too much product on the wand, use a tissue to wipe the excess off as opposed to pumping the wand in the container. That will dry the mascara out and cause it to get clumpy and become a breeding ground for bacteria. If you get an eye infection, discard the mascara immediately and replace it to avoid recurrences. NEVER share mascara with another person.

Face Cream

Face creams usually last about one year if they are in a pump bottle, but only about six to nine months in a jar, as your fingers can introduce bacteria. If you use an alpha-hydroxy cream, be sure to keep the container tightly sealed – they can become increasingly concentrated and cause irritation.

A Few Extra Tips:

If you use your hands to apply certain products, always make sure they are freshly washed, dried and clean of debris as to not contaminate your product or your face.

If you have products in pots or jars, it is best to use a spatula to scoop out some product and then work from your spatula or a palette (clean it or use a fresh one if you need more product- no double dipping or there is no point).

It can be tempting to use those forgotten treasures you find in an old makeup bag, but proceed with caution. They can have poor colour payoff, cause breakouts or infection, or damage to the skin. When in doubt, just throw it out.



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About the Author

Melissa Orlando

Melissa Orlando

Melissa has been following her passion for beauty for over a decade. While specializing in everyday beauty and wedding hair and makeup, Melissa has also worked in Film & Television. In 2015, she was a contestant on The Marilyn Denis Show’s Search For The Next Hair Expert. In November 2016, Melissa and her husband David […]

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