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Everything You Need To Know About Make-Up Expiration Dates

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There are a few things I hold close to my heart, and make-up is one of them. Each and every product I use is bought after hours of intense R&D, drawing up budget plans and looking for the best deal. Obviously they are my treasure trove, and I guard them fiercely! However, as all good things must come to an end, so does my love affair with the product du jour. My heart bleeds every time I have to discard something, and throwing away a half-used bottle of foundation means at least three days of mourning. Now that I’m older and wiser, I know that I can get through the day after tossing away old favourites. What I cannot live through is break-outs, eye infections, and scarred skin.

Unlike food, make-up expiration dates do not depend only on what’s printed on the packaging. Instead, it begins from the day you start using them. The rule of thumb is this: the more moisture a product has, the sooner it has to go. This also applies to any product that comes close to your eyes. Changing textures, funky smells, separation of layers of pigment and binder are your cues that the product needs to go, and it needs to go now. There’s no point holding in hope, only to have your skin suffer the consequences.

Here’s Hauterfly’s detailed guide on the shelf life of your favourite products. You’ll also find a handy infographic at the end to save for later!


Clinique Superfit Makeup Foundation_Hauterfly

Clinique Superfit Makeup Foundation (Rs 2,038)

1. Foundation

Shelf Life: 6 – 12 months
When foundation become old, the oil or binder rises to the top of the bottle leaving the heavier pigments at the bottom. This affects the colour and consistency of the product. It will go on unevenly and/or smell funky. I once used old foundation unknowingly and broke out within hours. Sometimes it is good to learn from others’ mistakes rather than learning it the hard way!


Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Polish_Hauterfly

Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Polish (Rs 450)


Shelf Life: 1 year
You know something is wrong when your lipgloss has become extra goopy. It also starts to smell sour. Time to say goodbye!


Calvin Klein Delicious Luxury Creme Lipstick_Hauterfly

Calvin Klein Delicious Luxury Creme Lipstick (Rs 526)

Lipstick & lipliner

Shelf Life: 2 years
Lipsticks change texture over time and get dry. Sometimes, creamy lipsticks develop a mossy layer. Throw it ASAP. This happens when your lipstick is exposed to varying temperatures. Extreme heat makes lipstick sweat (yes, that happens), and then when you store it in a cool place again it creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.


Bare Minerals Blush_Hauterfly

Bare Minerals Blush (Rs 1,381)


Shelf Life: 2 years

Powder formulas last the longest. However, even they need to be chucked out at the end of two years. When your powder get old, it tends to get flaky and go on streaky.


Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Cream Blush_Hauterfly

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Cream Blush (Rs 1,479)

Cream Blush

Shelf Life: 12-18 months
If you notice a change in the texture of your cream blushes or lip and cheek tints, it’s time to bid them goodbye. Always sanitise your hands while using these products to avoid contamination.


Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara_Hauterfly

Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara (Rs 775)


Shelf Life: 3-6 months
Sharing mascara is the easiest way to catch an infection. Using disposable wands cuts the risk of infection drastically. Because it has a creamy formula, mascara needs to be tossed out more often than any other make-up. Else it dries up, gets clumpy, and smells funny.


Lakme Absolute Shine Line_Hauterfly

Lakmé Absolute Shine Line (Rs 262)

Liquid eyeliners

Shelf Life: 6 months
Much like mascara, liquid eyeliners must not be shared. When they are on their way out, they dry out and in some cases you see the pigments settling at the bottom of the bottle.


L'Oreal Paris Kajal Magique_Hauterfly

L’Oréal Paris Kajal Magique (Rs 275)

Kohl & Brow Pencils

Shelf Life: 1 year
Pencils last longer than creamy eye products. If you have pencils that need to be sharpened, you cut the risk of contamination as the older bits get shaved off. All said and done, they still need to be disposed off after a year, since pencils have waxes and emollients that can give you serious eye infections if they’re past their prime.


MAC Electric Cool Eyeshadow Infra-Violet_Hauterfly

MAC Electric Cool Eyeshadow Infra-Violet (Rs 1,700)

Eye Shadow

Shelf Life: 1 year
Powder eyeshadows can last as long as powder blushes, but they should be chucked out sooner than that since they are used on your eyes. Protect those precious peepers, people!


Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eye Liner_Hauterfly

Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eye Liner (Rs 394)

Gel Liner

Shelf Life: 6 months
Repeatedly dipping your brush in the gel liner pot means you’re running the risk of infecting the product, and chances of contracting eye infections are really high.


Colorbar Nail Lacquer Pro Mini Collection-Pop Heart_Hauterfly

Colorbar Nail Lacquer Pro Mini Collection-Pop Heart (Rs 500)

Nail Polish

Shelf Life: 2 years
When you notice two separate layers or discolouration in the bottle, it means your nail polish is good to go. Store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight to increase its life.


Here’s a handy infographic to keep around for when you want to remember all this at one go!




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