The Definitive Guide To Makeup Expiration

makeup expiration

Who knew that those tiny little jars on the back of makeup products are actually called PAO (Period After Opening). Well I didn’t but I do know that, like many women, I take no notice of makeup shelf-life dates.

As shameful as it is to admit, I find it hard to let go of my makeup. Rather than a hoarder, I like to refer to myself as a devotee. I’m ride or die for my makeup; which makes it extremely hard to purge when things edge on the side of funky.

There are a few cardinal rules when handling makeup to ensure that shelf life is at its maximum potential. These include:

  • Washing your hands before direct contact with the product
  • Refrain from sharing makeup with others
  • Keeping products in a dry area, away from direct sunlight
  • Ensure lids are placed on firmly, particularly in makeup bags where bacteria can breed.

Keeping my makeup clean has never really been much of a problem for me as I’m quite meticulous about…well…everything. What I do find difficult is determining when it’s time to let go. There are, of course, a few tale tell signs of when a product is on its way out, for example:

  • Change of smell
  • Obvious exposure to heat
  • Colour/textural change
  • Evident mould

While generic guidelines advise an approximation of shelf life, I find some of them unrealistic for people who don’t have an unlimited budget for makeup. Cosmetic experts suggest 3 months for mascara, 6 months for liquid foundations, 1 year for lipsticks and so on. Whilst using ‘healthy’ products on your face is important, I couldn’t imagine throwing away a tube of mascara after 3 months before I’ve scraped out every last fibre.

Why can’t cosmetic companies make it easier on our poor, makeup-loving souls?! Personally speaking, I would appreciate a simple expiration date or even a date of manufacture. That way, we would have a clear indication of when our favourite lippie needs a ceremonial goodbye rather than having to scramble our brain on which date you cracked open the packaging.

I recently discovered a fantastic site called Cosmetics Calculator; which has answered all of my expiration-date questions. The site supports a long list of brands; which are all detailed at the bottom of their landing page. Entering, into the calculator, the brand and batch code; which are easily located on the packaging of most makeup products, allows for the calculator to determine when the product was made. The user-friendly website scours its database to find the exact manufacturing date so you can make an informed decision on its usability. Pretty cool right? In fact, this baby has been a God-send during my big fat makeup spring cleaning session…also known as ‘the day angels fell from the sky’. I’ve also discovered The Cosmetics Wizard; which edges on the exact same idea, but focuses more on skincare brands (particularly in the UK). Now if you’re really OCD, like me, you could look up the dates upon purchase of your beauty product and add a nifty little label of your own on the packaging with an exact expiration date. That wouldn’t make you pathetic…I promise!

What are you waiting for? Get ready to purge girls! After all, you can’t buy more makeup without a little more room in your  storage!