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Has your make-up expired? Here’s how to tell


Since the first lockdown came into place over a year ago, so many of us have all but forgotten about our make-up bags, with skin tints and hydrating serums replacing a full face of daily make-up.

Now, with the weather brightening and greater freedoms looming, dipping back into that make-up kit feels like an exciting prospect, with experimentation and expression firmly back on the cards.

But if you haven’t opened that bottle of foundation since last summer, it might be worth checking its expiration date. Make-up does not last forever, especially once opened and, to make matters more confusing, different formulas have different lifespans.

“The little ‘open jar’ icon on your make-up’s packaging tells you when the formula will start to degrade in terms of performance and efficacy, but also can indicate when the preservatives and stabilisers in the formula can start to break down,” explains Warren Dowdall, senior pro artist at Bobbi Brown.

“This may lead to bacterial growth, so it’s key to keep an eye on when your products are coming to the end of their lifespan,” he says. “A quick fix is to pop a date sticker on your products once you’ve opened them so you know exactly when to replace them.”

Here, Dowdall explains how long each of your make-up essentials should be kept for, so you know what to keep and what to replace this month.



“Generally, liquid foundations come in airtight bottles or tube packaging which exposes them to less light and air, giving them a relatively long life. They can last up to 12 months once opened, but if you notice the formula starting to separate, it’s time for the bin.”



“Powders have the longest life: they can last up to 18 months. They don’t contain water so that makes it more difficult for bacteria to grow, but some contemporary powders do contain oils and emollients that can degrade a little faster than classic formulas.”



“This is formula dependent: gel and liquid liners that will be exposed to the environment should be used within three-to-six months. Classic eyeliner pencils can be used up to a year after first use as they are constantly sharpened and a new layer of product is used each time.”



“You’ll notice your mascara may start to change texture and clump around the three-month mark. Between the air exposure and the mascara wand constantly going between our skin, lashes and then back into the formula, there can be a build up of bacteria, so it’s important to be consistent about replacing it.”



“Lipsticks can last from to 12-to-18 months. You’ll notice a change in texture, smell or even a build-up of film over some formulas when it’s time to throw away.”

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