Have you got lipstick lurking in your makeup bag from three years ago? And is there a crusty old mascara you’ve hardly used in the bottom of your handbag?

Well throw them away. Online hair and beauty retailer Hairtrade.com have been looking into the expiry dates of favourite make up products and say a regular make up bag cleanse is a must.

They claim out of date products, particularly those used around eyes can cause irritation and infection.

They advise checking the expiry dates on products regularly and urge shoppers to be aware of when they bought the item so they can ditch anything out of date.

The symbol to look out for on the product is the outline of an open jar. This includes the letter ‘m’, which means month, and a number before it, which stands for the amount of months you can keep it once opened.

Joanne Dodds from Hairtrade.com said: “So many people don’t know the true expiration date of their makeup. I’m sure most of us will admit to not checking regularly and having much loved items lurking in your makeup bag for years.

“But, makeup products do not last forever, and creamy products especially, only have a shelf life of around six months.

“Whilst it doesn’t harm you to use some out-of-date makeup products, some provide moisture which bacteria thrives on, and mascara and eyeliner can cause eye irritations or infections.”

“It’s important to be aware of makeup shelf-lives so you know what beauty products need throwing out, and the ones you can get away with keeping for a little longer.”
Makeup sponges – wash after use, then throw away after one month
Blending sponges should be replaced ideally every month and washed with cleanser after every use. It is important to replace these, and the signs you need to throw it away can include any deformities on the sponge, breaking out for no reason and discolouring.

Mascara – four to six months
Because it can come in contact with your eyes, it is important to discard mascara after it has been opened for three months. This is to prevent bacteria from causing eye irritations or infections. Most mascara tubes are labelled with a shelf life of 4-6 months, so it is important to know this.

It is also recommended to avoid pumping your mascara, as this pushes air into the tube, which can dry out the mascara and cause bacterial contamination. When placing your wand into the tube, swirl it around in a circular motion to prevent air bubbles.

Throw away your mascara if its dried out, or has a different texture, colour or scent. Also, NEVER add water.

Cream Blush/Cream Eye Shadow – 6 months
Creamy makeup products will only last around six months due to them providing more moisture for bacteria to thrive on. Keep an eye on creamy products for mould, smell or separation, and throw away if they look a little funny.

Eyeliner – 6 months – 1 year
Liquid eyeliner lasts around four to six months, as it’s a product that is fairly susceptible to bacteria. Pencil eyeliners can last up to two years but the cap should be kept tightly closed. (The same rules also apply for lip pencils as well.) If you’ve had an eye infection, always throw away eyeliners that you’ve previously used, as this could increase the risk of getting another infection.

Foundation – 1 year
Liquids and cream foundations only last between 6-12 months, as they contain water, oils and other hydrating agents, which decrease the shelf life and increase bacteria. Powders can last up to two years, as it’s harder for bacteria to grow in products that are solid.

It is important to note that the ingredients in the foundation determine the germ growth. Always read the back of the label and make a note of when your foundation is due to expire. Wash your makeup tools regularly and also wash your hands before you apply.


Lip Gloss – 1 year
In a similar way to mascara, pumping the wand in the tube is also bad for lip-gloss. If your gloss is discoloured, or different in texture and thickness, it’s probably best to throw it away.

Nail polish – 1 year
Nail polish is one product that does go out of date. Once you open a polish, the product can evaporate which causes it to thicken and separate. Always remember to keep the lid securely fastened as this can make the product expire quicker.

Concealer – 12-18 months
If your concealer is dried out, has a change in texture, becomes cakey/lumpy or smells different – throw it out immediately. Not only will the concealer be making your spots worse but it will also prevent you from getting a perfectly blended makeup look.

Powder/Blush/Bronzer/Eye Shadow – 18 months – 2 years
Although most powders, blushes and bronzers have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years, your powders should be fine even after they reach their expiration date.

Powders can become hard and have poor application after their expiration date, but you can minimise the bacterial contamination by lightly cleaning the product regularly and avoiding leaving the product exposed to air. Throw away powders with broken lids and check for mould and any unusual smells.

Lipstick – 18 months – 2 years
Look after your lipsticks well and they can last up to two years. It’s important to remember to never leave them without a lid on and clean with a wipe occasionally to remove the top layer of bacteria growth.


Fragrances – 8-10 years
Although fragrances have a shelf life of 8-10 years, they can last for much longer if you store them correctly. Avoid heated rooms, strong lights and always keep the lid securely on between usages. The best place to keep your fragrances is a dark cupboard and regularly check for discolouration.