I love natural beauty, and I think it’s your best look, but I think makeup as an artist is so transformative.

Marina and the Diamonds, Welsh singer-songwriter (1985-present)

Something that any makeup user knows is that it doesn’t last forever.

I’m not talking about the time it takes to start smudging on your face – I’m talking about its longevity.  As much as we’d like to deny it, the truth is that makeup, like most things, has an expiration date.

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Despite spending a pretty penny on the products that you love, it’s frustrating to know that if you don’t use it within a given time frame, it’ll go bad.  However, even though we know that we should use it by a certain date, the fact that we spent so much on it deters us from tossing it – we want to use it for as long as we can.

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Most of us, myself included, have two reasons for not throwing away makeup, besides its cost.  One reason is because even if a product is expired, if it doesn’t show any adverse side effects, we convince ourselves that it’s still viable.  Another reason is that we generally don’t know when makeup expires because we don’t understand how to read the makeup expiration dates.

To this day, I still don’t know how to read the confusing combination of letters and numbers on makeup products.  Strangely, many articles, beauty shows, and YouTube clips are confusing and unclear about it because in each country, their expiration codes are different.  France won’t have the same code as South Korea does, and this discrepancy makes users reluctant to find out.

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From what I’ve experienced, as well as what is agreed by various professionals, I have compiled a longevity list for different types of makeup products.

NOTE:  Keep in mind that once you open a product, its shelf life decreases because putting your germs or letting the makeup come into contact with the air will inevitably contaminate it.  That being said, unopened makeup products do last longer, but that doesn’t mean that they last forever.
  • Basic Cleansing Products: cleansing foam, cleaning tissue, cleansing oil, etc.
    • Before opening: 30 months
    • After opening: 12 months
  • Basic Skincare Products: toner, lotion/moisturizer, eye cream, essence, sunblock, etc.
    • Before opening: 30 months
    • After opening: 12 months
  • Lipstick, Lip Gloss, Lip Tint
    • Before opening: 30 months
    • After opening: 6-18 months
  • Mascara, Eyeliner
    • Before opening: 24 months
    • After opening: 6 months
  • Powder, Compact Products
    • Before opening: 60 months
    • After opening: 36 months
  • Basic Coverage Products: Blush, Concealer, Base, Foundation, etc.
    • Before opening: 36 months
    • After opening: 12 months

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Why can’t makeup products not have expiration dates?

Every makeup brand will have a slightly different combination of chemicals and materials that go into their products, and each material will have a different longevity.  Combining these materials will create a certain use by date.  Think of prescription medication: we need to use them or toss them by its expiration date because the chemicals in the medication will start to deteriorate and turn funky past that date.  Makeup, like medication, has chemicals in it, so it will have a period when it is most effective.

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If you are still confused about how long your makeup lasts, you should consider going on a brave journey to decipher the expiration code.  Or, you can simply pop into your nearest Sephora, or beauty specialty store, to ask how long a certain product lasts.  When in doubt, ask someone, whether it’s Google, or a real person!  You don’t want to get some sort of weird skin condition because you couldn’t be bothered.

xoxo,

the girl who’s trying to use her makeup by the expiration dates

IMAGE CREDIT: Condé Nast Traveler
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