Doctor reveals the one kind of makeup you should throw out immediately: 'Keep things safe'

Kelsey Weekman
·3-min read

Like everything else that’s good in this world, makeup doesn’t last forever. 

Dr. Dylan Greeney, a dermatologist, told In The Know that all sorts of microbes can grow in makeup, including bacteria, fungus and mold. Not exactly the type of thing you want all over your face or near your eyes.

He recommended taking note of labeling on makeup containers that includes a small open jar icon. It’s usually labeled with a time frame between three months and 36 months. Basically, it’s the expiration date.

“This is called the ‘period after opening‘ label,” Dr. Greeney explained. “Manufacturers say this product is safe for a certain period of time after opening it.” 

Though one might assume that the expiration date notes when the quality of the product degrades, it’s typically determined by the amount of time the preservatives in the makeup last. 

“There are some scary-sounding chemicals in our makeup, like formaldehyde and parabens, but these are determined to be safe and do a great job of preventing bacterial growth in our makeup products,” Dr. Greeney said. “When those start to wane in their efficacy, that’s when makeup products tend to expire.”

When you use expired makeup, you risk eye infections, skin infections and breakouts. 

What are the general expiration dates for different kinds of makeup? Dr. Greeney shared some basic guidelines with In The Know. 


The liquid variety is generally good from six to 12 months, but it may lose its “elegance” as it dries out. Powders generally last longer — usually 12 to 24 months.


Eyeliner is inherently a bit risky because it’s applied so close to the eye. When you put the liquid kind on, you place a brush on your eyelid then return it to the bottle, exposing it to bacteria. Throw them out within three to six months. As for pencils or other solid eyeliners, they’re a bit safer to use in the long term. Keep them for 12 to 18 months.

Blush and bronzer

These powders can generally be used for a longer period of time — between one to two years. 


Despite the fact eyeshadow is used on a high-risk area, the products are usually good for 12 to 18 months because they’re dry and harbor less bacteria.

Lipstick and lip gloss

Since lipstick doesn’t have much water content, they’re usually good for 12 to 19 months. Lip glosses are more likely to expire faster because they’re glossy and have more water in them.


This is generally one of the most dangerous products when it comes to quick and unexpected expiration. They’re usually only good for about three to six months before they start to grow bacteria. 

“There are a lot of structures, like the glands that make the natural oils of our eye to keep it lubriated, that can become infected with bacteria if we use expired makeup,” Dr. Greeney said. 

You may notice other negative factors toward its expiration date, like clumping and drying out. Don’t hesitate to pitch it.

The shelf lives of makeup products can be different based on the manufacturer and the ingredients, so be sure to double check the container when you buy it to note when its life with you will end. 

“We only have one skin — it’s our biggest organ,” Dr. Greeney said. “If you’ve got a bunch of expired makeup products at home, I’d encourage you to throw those out, treat yourself, get some new makeup and keep things safe.” 

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