January 13, 2016

How To Tell If Your Makeup Is Expired

How To Tell If Your Makeup Is Expired

So how do you tell if your makeup is expired? Or even your favorite fragrance? How do you know the shelf life? People always ask me, “How do you know when your makeup is expired? Do you use it after it is expired? Do you toss it?”

I’m actually a bit anal about makeup and fragrance expiration dates. I have a little handheld DYMO Label Manager and the first thing I do when I get new makeup, skincare, or fragrance is create a dated label of when I purchased the product. I take that label and I stick it on the bottom of the product. When you have a ton of different beauty products you’re testing, storing, and using you really need to keep track of when you purchased these products. This is the method I personally use.

I don’t purge often. The only things that get tossed out would be mascara, skincare, and fragrances that might be bad or have gone off. Many fragrances will last years and years if you store them in a cool, dark place but some will go off and won’t smell exactly the same way as when you purchased them. It really depends on the ingredients used in the creation of that fragrance.

Color cosmetics?

I never throw them out. They all get stored away if they are expired as I never know when I will have to go back to them for reference. If an eyeshadow expires I likely won’t use it on my eyes again but I will keep it just in case I need to reference the color or formula in a new post on Musings of a Muse.

The real question here is though how to tell if your makeup is expired. You might not be as anal as I am and you might have products laying around that you can’t recall the day you purchased. Here’s a quick way to give you an idea when or if it already is expired!

I have fragrances that I’m guilty of not labeling and in this case I use a really great site to tell me how old exactly my makeup and fragrance items are. I use checkcosmetic.net to check any of my older products that I haven’t labeled.

This site is ridiculously helpful to give you a general idea how old a product is. I actually like using it when I purchase a fragrance as it’ll give me a general idea how long it was hanging out on a store shelf before I came along to purchase it.

Simply check the bottom of the product you want to know the expiration date on and punch the little product code on it into Check Cosmetic’s search engine and POOF! Just like magic it’ll tell you the current shelf life in months so you’ll know how fresh your product currently is.

This site is a really great if you tend to purchase fragrances or even makeup from wholesalers like Fragrance.net, E-bay, All Cosmetics Wholesale, etc…as you can get a general idea of the age of the items you’re purchasing.

Granted it isn’t going to give you an exact date your product will expire but you can get a general idea of how old it is and whether or not it is time to trash it.

How you tell if your makeup is expired?

Do you label your makeup?

Keep a spreadsheet?

Do share!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


  • Janessa

    I write the date with a sharpie on everything that I know gets used up and repurchased – foundation, concealer, mascara, any body wash, cleanser, even lotions and toners… I also like to see how long it takes me to use up items. I’m pretty good about purging lip products regularly, I keep all palettes… Just never know! LOL

  • Dee

    I’m really good about tossing mascara after three months, sometimes earlier. But I have to admit I kinda let the other stuff slide.

  • Michelle Flamingo

    You don’t want to KNOW how old some of my stuff is that I still use! Let’s just say I am 48 years old and have worn makeup since I was a teenager! I don’t breakout from anything I use, nor have I ever had an eye infection or an infection anywhere on my face.

    I throw out mascara when it is not making a difference on my lashes.

    I toss any product which has become unusable or not fun to use when the texture has changed.

    I have had one or two perfumed (main line perfumes) lotions go bad, meaning the smell becomes sort of bad. For example, the scent of my Pleasures Intense body lotion changed for the worse after maybe 5 years.

    Also, some lotions become really runny when they get old – the thickener is no longer active, so I’ve had to throw out lotions.

    For a very short time I did use a permanent black marker and write on the product what month and year I bought it, but I quit doing that because what is the point when I keep it so long and don’t throw it out when it would be considered “expired”?

  • Christine Joy Luikuo

    I don’t usually follow shelf life stated in the items that I’ve bought because they last long, especially eyeshadows, blushes and lipsticks. I haven’t thrown out my old mascaras but I don’t use them either. Then for lipglosses, I’ll throw them away when they start having awful smell and become watery.

  • LS

    I have sensitive eyes, so I keep tabs on my mascara. I usually use deluxe sample size tubes so they just can’t last that long anyway! I toss lip products when they get off. There’s a distinct taste/smell, and I ditch things as soon as I get a whiff of that. I even tossed a very new one because it was gross. I only toss pressed powder products when/if the texture gets weird and it’s not as easy to use. I toss perfumed products if they no longer smell appropriate.

    I cannot fathom tossing my eye shadows once a year. I have way too much invested in my high end palettes to do that.

  • Kelly

    I am religious about getting rid of mascara and sunscreen, but for everything else I use the “wait and see” method. I used to use stickers but I have so many products that system quickly became useless. I try to use up skincare as soon as possible but if it is past expiration/use by date I smell it and test it out to see if it’s still good or not. Also, if I can see that a product is visibly separating then I get rid of it. I do sterilize my makeup to help it last longer as well.

  • Stephanie G

    If it changes in color/texture/scent, I throw it out. Otherwise, I keep using it.

  • genevieve

    I generally only have one or two mascaras on the go at one time because I do throw them out after 3 months. I do a cull on my lipsticks every year and I try not to have more than 10-15 so that I can wear them out in that time.
    Foundations and blushes I go through and keep them in a cool, darkened cupboard.
    It is my eye shadow palettes that I cling onto. Most of them haven’t expired, but I know one or two have. I have to be brave….

  • Sarah

    I purge my mascara regularly, but I generally use it up within 3-4 months anyway. However, I have so many skincare and body products…including so many unopened, that this site will be very useful as I sort through my ‘collection.’ For example, I’m curious to know just how old or ‘dated’ some of those great deals are at Marshalls or TJ’s. I already used the site for some of my self tanners, and BAM, in the trash they went. Muse, once again, sharing your magical tips and tricks has been immensely helpful. Not only is it useful, it’s also interesting to see when some of these products were manufactured. I also love that they tell you how much longer the shelf-life of a product that hasn’t yet expired is. I hope they add some more brands…. Thanks again!!

  • lala

    Super helpful. Thanks! I recently discovered your blog as i am a fellow makeup junkie love reading about new products and such. Keep it up!