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Ask The Experts – How Important are Makeup Expiration Dates?

[ 1 ] April 24, 2012 |

If you’ve been surviving on a student budget, chances are you’ve been trying to look for any excuse not to spend money – so the last thing on your mind is replacing the products in your makeup kit, right?

Makeup is expensive and so while most of us are aware of the expiration dates on our beloved products, they’re easily overlooked when the dreaded date gets close and we’ve still only used about half of it.

Throwing away money like that is especially difficult for our student budgets and many people tend to think that expiration dates are only a guideline anyway. So when the product still works and looks okay, that must mean it’s still good, right?

Well, after talking to various makeup artists across Canada we’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a reason makeup expiration dates are put on there, so maybe we should start to pay them a little more attention!

Pro makeup artist, Colette Cormier said, “We need these [expiration dates] because cosmetic ingredients can decompose.”

Cormier continued to say that bacteria are another problem when makeup nears expiration. She explained that because we often put makeup on with our fingers, bacteria will sneak its way in, multiply and then put us at risk to a range of other problems.

Calgary makeup artist, Catherine Oshanek, highlighted another reason why expiration dates are important: “Some products, such as acne products, contain medication. And in these the medication can expire, just like pills.”

So what’s wrong with using products after expiration? Well for one, Oshanek said that we wouldn’t actually be receiving the benefits of the products anymore. “If you are using a product with SPF in it and it is expired, you could potentially get a sunburn because the SPF will no longer be working.”

But while you might be thinking this sounds bad, sunburn could turn out to be the least of your problems, as Cormier said we could end up facing the risk of infections, redness, swelling, acne breakouts or even pink eye.

So what are some important dates to remember?

As highlighted by our beauty experts, here is a general set of guidelines on the lifespan of some of our favourite beauty products:

  • Mascara: every 3 months
  • Liquid or cream products e.g. concealer, foundation: 6 months to 1 year
  • Powder: 1-2 years
  • Pencil products (eye/lip liner): 2-3 years
  • Lipstick: 1-2 years
  • Liquid liner: Up to 6 months
  • Cream and gel cleansers: Around 1 year

However, that is not to say that all these deadlines are set in stone. According to Cormier, we all need to become our own health inspectors.

While there may be suggested guidelines that go along with each product, our method of use and the way we take care of them will ultimately determine their fate.

So how do you take care of your makeup?

Well you might be happy to welcome the warmer weather but what about your makeup?

Cormier mentions that heat can be a very big determining factor and so leaving your makeup out to sunbathe on your bathroom counter, or to lay in the heat of your handbag as you enjoy the summer sun, might not be the best idea.

“If you know your makeup has been sunbathing in your beach bag, you can be sure it’s as ‘baked’ as you are.”

Some of the biggest telltale signs that your makeup is in much need of replacement:


  • Change in colour (separating)
  • Change in consistency (if it starts to get thick and pasty that’s not a good sign)


  • Watch out for a bad smell (if it starts to smell like crayons this is definitely a red-flag)

Cormier says that it is a wise idea to store any liquid/cream products like foundation/lipstick or concealer in the fridge to extend their lifetime.

Makeup brushes/sponges might seem expensive but they could turn out to be a very useful investment.

As Cormier said earlier when we put on makeup with our fingers we are likely to contaminate it with bacteria that will multiply and spoil our products.

So what should we do instead? Well Cormier says, “To breathe the longest life possible into the products you do buy, only use them with clean hands or use brushes and tools to touch them instead.”

By investing some money into a basic makeup brush kit or stocking up on some disposable sponges we can minimize the transfer of bacteria, thereby extending the life of our products, as well as keeping our skin free from acne flare-ups.

Cormier tells us that sharing makeup is also not very advisable. “Don’t let all your Facebook friends borrow your makeup, don’t add water or even lick any product to wet it and store them in dry areas.”

We understand this may be a lot to remember – but please try to take away this one piece of advice from Oshanek:

“With everything else, use your own judgment, just as you would before you eat something that has been in the fridge; smell it and check the texture. If it feels ‘off’ in any way, definitely get rid of it.”

So what’s a student to do when they’re on a tight budget?

Well one thing both our specialists are in agreement on is that you don’t need a lavish makeup kit. Oshanek says, “ For those on a budget, you honestly can get away with only a few select items. Makeup doesn’t have to be complicated.”

And one of the biggest benefits of having a smaller makeup kit according to Oshanek is that you have fewer items to replace. “The smaller a make-up kit is, the less likely you will have to run into things going ‘bad.’ Buy items that are essential to you and replace them as you go.”

Plus there are lots of ways to multipurpose your makeup. One of Oshanek’s favourite tricks is to buy a clear gloss and mix in different colours of eye shadows to tint it.

Cormier added, “You don’t need to spend a lot to find great makeup products. Some of the makeup that I carry in my kit and use daily won’t cost a bundle at all.”

Some of her favourite products include Maybelline concealers Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser, Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara, Annabelle Smoothliner eye pencils and Revlon lipsticks.

Check out some of our favourite drug store must haves that won’t break the bank right here.

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Category: Beauty Box

Comments (1)

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  1. MAC BRUSHES says:

    great article, thank you, I am also makeup artist from USA

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