[Beauty 101] When to Throw Out Your Makeup Products

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                                                SHOP BEAUTY PRODUCTS HERE>

By Nica Dobles from THREAD PH

Time to check that expiry date.

Makeup products can get pretty expensive, so it can be tempting to keep them for as long as possible, weeks or even months past the time you should have thrown them out. But once you’ve opened that jar or tube, you’ve exposed the product inside to air, heat, and humidity — not to mention all that bacteria from your hands or makeup brushes — that will eventually cause the ingredients to deteriorate. That’s why using old makeup can lead to skin irritations or infections.

It can be tricky to tell when makeup should be thrown out, though, as products don’t often come with expiry dates. Usually what you’ll see instead is a Period-After-Opening (PAO) symbol — an open jar with the number of months or years that you can use the product after you’ve opened it (thus exposing it to air).

                                SAMPLE PAO

                                SAMPLE PAO

If you can’t find the PAO symbol on your beauty products, read on for our quick guide on when to throw out your makeup.

General Guidelines

  • The more liquid a product, the sooner you’ll have to throw it out. Powders last longer than creams.
  • Store your products in a cool, dry place — not your bathroom — as the moisture encourages bacteria growth.
  • Wash your hands and clean your makeup brushes regularly to extend the life of your products.


These products are the most likely to cause infection because they have direct contact with your eyes. Because of this, it’s probably a good idea not to splurge too much on these products.

  • Mascara, liquid/gel eyeliner: Throw out every 3–4 months, or earlier if you notice the product drying out.
  • Pencil eyeliner: these are good for up to 2 years, but only if you sharpen the tip regularly.
  • Powder eyeshadow: these can last for up to 2 years as long as you clean your makeup brushes and keep them covered, although older shadows can be more difficult to use.
  • Cream eyeshadow: the additional moisture in cream products increases their chances of attracting bacteria, limiting their usage to 1-1.5 years.


Lip products can be used for 1–2 years after you’ve opened it. That said, be on the lookout for funny smells, discoloration, or weird textures — these are signs that the oils have broken down and turned the product rancid. You can also extend the life of your lipsticks by wiping off the top layer once in a while.


  • Powder foundation and blushers/bronzers: like your powder eyeshadows, if well-taken care of, these will last for up to 2 years.
  • Liquid concealers and foundations: good for 1–1.5 years, depending on the formulationWater-based products should be thrown out after 1 year, while oil-based products can be used for 1.5 years.

Remember, these are only general numbers —so be sure to doublecheck for a PAO symbol whenever you buy a new makeup product and watch out for any signs of early expiration (off smells or textures). And as long as you keep your products clean and safely stored, you should be able to use your makeup for the maximum period allowed.


Got any basic beauty questions you want answered? Let us know in the comments section below