Updated May 27th, 2024 at 10:17 IST

Can Expired Makeup Harm Your Skin? Here’s Why You Should Check Expiry Date Before Buying Cosmetics

Checking the expiry date before buying and using cosmetics is important for maintaining healthy skin.

Harms of expired makeup | Image:Unsplash

Using expired makeup is more than just a waste of money—it can be harmful to your skin. Understanding the risks associated with expired cosmetics can help you make informed decisions and maintain healthy skin. Just like skincare, makeup too has to be of the highest quality.

Why expiry dates matter

Cosmetics, like food, have a shelf life. Over time, the preservatives in makeup break down, making the product more susceptible to bacterial growth and other contaminants. Most cosmetics have a period after opening (pao) symbol, indicating how long the product is safe to use after it’s been opened. Ignoring these dates can lead to various skin issues.

Expired makeup can be harmful for skin | Image: Unsplash

Risks of using expired makeup

Once a product has expired, the preservatives lose their effectiveness, allowing bacteria, mold, and yeast to thrive. Applying such products can introduce these pathogens to your skin, causing infections like conjunctivitis (from expired eye makeup) or dermatitis.

Expired makeup can change in composition, leading to altered chemical reactions on your skin. Ingredients can break down and cause irritation, redness, rashes, and even allergic reactions. Sensitive skin is particularly vulnerable to these adverse effects.


Expired products lose their potency over time. This means your foundation may not blend as well, your mascara might clump, and your sunscreen might not protect you adequately. Using ineffective products defeats the purpose of applying makeup and can lead to skin issues due to poor coverage or protection.

Eye makeup, like mascara and eyeliner, poses a significant risk when expired. Eyes are particularly sensitive, and using contaminated products can lead to serious infections such as styes or pink eye.


How to check expiry dates

  • Many cosmetics have a pao symbol, often depicted as an open jar with a number (like 6m, 12m, 24m), indicating the number of months the product is safe to use after opening.
  • Some products list a manufacturing date. Use this to estimate the shelf life if an expiry date is not provided. Generally, unopened makeup can last up to three years.
  • If a product changes in texture, color, or smell, it’s likely expired, even if it's within the marked date range. Trust your senses and discard any product that seems off.
Expired makeup | Image: Unsplash

Tips for safe makeup use

  • Keep makeup in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, to prolong its shelf life.
  • Wash your hands before applying makeup, and avoid sharing your cosmetics to minimize contamination.
  • Periodically review your makeup collection, and discard items that are past their expiry date or show signs of spoilage.
  • Opt for smaller sizes if you don’t use makeup daily. This way, you can use up the product before it expires.

Published May 27th, 2024 at 10:17 IST