How Long Will My Makeup Products Last? Expiry Times & Dates Explained

How Long Will My Makeup Products Last: a question we get asked all the time.

Makeup can last anywhere between a few months to three years, so it's important to know which products last long and which don't. We explain how to do that in this blog post, so keep reading!

The laws regarding how much testing is done for a particular product depends very much on where you live in the world or where you are selling. If your company is based in a European company or is selling to Europe, as SAPPHO does, your products go through a very lengthy and costly process of testing to make sure all their standards are met. SAPPHO goes beyond EU qualifications, now testing for PFAS/organic fluorine as well.

In the US, to get FDA approval for a cosmetic product, a cosmetic formulator would have to provide evidence of product safety through scientific testing. This includes the following tests for full products (assuming all relevant tests have been done on ingredients).

Generally if no medical claims are being made, some of the tests that are required may include:

  1. Ingredient Safety Assessment: An Evaluation of each ingredient used in the product to ensure they are safe for use on the skin. 
  2. Microbial Testing: A test to determine if harmful bacteria or other microorganisms are present in the product.
  3. Stability Testing: A test to determine how the product will change over time, including changes in appearance, odour, and texture.
  4. Package Integrity Testing: A test to ensure that the packaging will protect the product from contamination.

Specific testing requirements vary depending on the type of cosmetic product and its intended use. It is also important to note that the FDA does not approve cosmetic products, but it does regulate their safety and labeling.

Know the Different Life Expectancy of Your Products

The longevity of your makeup products depends on the type of product. Generally, liquid and cream based products have shorter life expectancies, while powder and mineral-based products tend to last longer.

No matter the time line however, it's important to replace personal care items when they pass their expiration dates in order to avoid infection or irritation.

Here's How To Read and Understand Cosmetics Expiration Dates

Makeup, skincare and hair products can all expire, but how do you tell when a product is past its prime?

Check the Store Expiration Date and the Open Dating System.

Cosmetics can have an expiration date stamped on the bottom or side of the packaging.

This is often referred to as the Store Expiration Date. This has no reference to whether the product is opened or closed, its determination is often as a result of the stability test. Sometimes, it is determined by a lot number and that number can be referenced to the store/brand for clarification.

In addition, many cosmetics also have a symbol called Open Dating System. The open dating system features small numbers which indicate how long a product will be safe and efficient after it has been opened for the first time (the small jar icon). These are numbers to pay attention to to know when to replace makeup products that are past their expiration date.

There are two ways that expiry dates are communicated:

  1. Shelf life (tells you how long a product is safe for BEFORE opening and usually is a stamped date on the jar/bottle/tube.
  2. Open jar icon (PAO) tells you how long the product is safe AFTER opening. Example: 12M means it is good for 12 months after you have opened it. TIP: It can prove useful to write the date you open it on with a permanent pen.
Exp. 12/2/2024


The (very) general rule of thumb for estimated longevity for products is as follows.

  • Foundation: 1-3 years 
  • Eyeshadow: 2 years
  • Lip products: 1-2 years
  • Blush: 1-2 years
  • Powder: 1-2 years
  • Concealer: 1-2 years
  • Mascara/Eyeliner: 1-6 months

SAPPHO Clean Beauty Brand PFAS Free Makeup Products on Display

When it comes to your SAPPHO products, here are our general guidelines.

Blush Refill 36 months 1-2 years
Brow Pomade 36 months 1-3 years
CC Cream 24 months 1-2 years
Cream Concealer 24 months Until expiry
Essential Foundation 30 months Until expiry
Eyeshadow Refill 36 months 1-2 years
Face Powder Refill 36 months 1-2 years
Lip Gloss 30 months 1-2 years
Mascara 30 months Until expiry, but 3 months ideal
Silky Setting Powder 36 months 1-2 years
Skin Luminizer 36 months 12 months

But keep an eye and nose out for any signs of contamination. 

Learn to Recognize Contaminated Makeup Products

Sometimes, it's not always easy to spot personal care products that have gone bad. Signs of contamination in cosmetics include changes in color, smell and texture. These changes can be very fast to occur, so it's important to carefully examine any makeup product before applying it. If anything looks off or if the product has a sour smell, discard or recycle if possible, and purchase a new one.

Understand How Color, Smell and Texture Can Indicate Expired Cosmetics

Signs of contamination in cosmetics include changes in color, smell and texture. Generally speaking, expired makeup products can show physical signs such as discoloration, a thicker or thinner consistency than normal, or an off-putting smell that lingers even after the product is applied. If anything looks off or if the product has a sour smell, don't apply and purchase a replacement to ensure you're using safe and effective makeup products.

Discard Old Products to Prevent Bacterial Infection

Discarding old cosmetics isn’t only important to maintain the best makeup application—it’s essential for maintaining good health and hygiene. When cosmetics are kept beyond their expiration date, they can encourage bacterial growth. Bacteria entering your bloodstream through tiny skin openings or via the eyes or mouth can lead to infections and illnesses like conjunctivitis and bacterial meningitis. So when in doubt, discard and recycle if possible —and replace it without delay.

The Difference Between EU Certified Products and Non Certified

European Union certification for cosmetics is an important assurance to consumers and businesses that the products they're buying have been rigorously tested for safety, quality and best practices. 

EU certified products must meet the highest standards of safety and quality before they are granted certification. The certification process ensures that all ingredients used in the production of cosmetics comply with EU regulations, meaning no known toxic substances are ever included in any product from a certified brand. This also helps to ensure that these products have typically been tested for efficacy as well, so consumers can trust that the claims presented about them are true and reliable.

SAPPHO's foundation, mascara, and concealer are all EU certified.

In addition, these products have all been tested for PFAS with results Undetected <10 ppm organic fluorine.

It doesn't get cleaner than that!

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