Does Eyeshadow Expire? (A Helpful Guide by a MUA)

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If you are anything like me, then eyeshadow is a crucial part of your daily makeup routine.

Most of us have more than one palette to add variety to our daily choices.  Some of us even have so many eyeshadow palettes that we could stock our favorite makeup store.

It may seem like these eyeshadow palettes will last forever, depending on how much you use them and how many you have.  You might think that you will never have to replace them. 

But there are several questions that you should ask yourself about your eyeshadow palettes to make sure that you are staying healthy.

When do eyeshadow palettes expire? How do you tell if your palette is expired?

How do you tell when it is time to throw out an eyeshadow palette? What happens if you use expired eyeshadow? 

We are going to explore all of these questions in-depth to find the answers.

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When do eyeshadow palettes expire?

eyeshadow palette with expiration date

As I mentioned in my guide on makeup expiration, eyeshadows, like all other types of makeup, have Period After Opening (PAO) symbols on them, indicating the expiration date. 

This date, as well as the month that you opened the eyeshadow palette, are critical in knowing when to discard your product to keep your eyes healthy.  As a helpful tip, you might consider writing the date you opened your palette on it to help you remember when it is time to discard it.

All eyeshadow palettes are not created equal when it comes to expiration dates.  Ingredients have the most effect on the expiration date. 

For instance, powder eyeshadows will last longer than cream eyeshadows.  This is because powder contains very little or no moisture. 

Traditional eyeshadows will last longer than natural eyeshadows due to the presence of preservatives.

How you care for your eyeshadow will also affect how long it lasts.  If you keep your makeup in the bathroom, the steam from the shower is going to greatly reduce the shelf life of your eyeshadow. 

So even if your PAO is 24 months, you may find that your product has expired in just a few months from all the moisture. 

The best way to prolong the shelf life of your eyeshadow palettes is to store them in a cool, dry location.

How to tell if eyeshadow is expired

There are various ways that you can tell when your eyeshadow has expired. 

Obviously, the first and foremost way to tell if it has expired is to follow the expiration date. 

Knowing the month that you opened the palette and counting the months that you have to use it according to the PAO, you should know when you reach the month of expiration. 

For example, if you have a cream eyeshadow with a PAO of 6 months and you opened it in June, then you would know that December is when you should be discarding it.

Expiration date (PAO) in Norvina Eyeshadow Palette
Expiration date (PAO) in Norvina Eyeshadow Palette

You can use the following information as a basic guide to know when your eyeshadow will expire after opening it. 

  • Cream eyeshadows have an average expiration date of 6 to 12 months. 
  • Eyeshadow palettes have an average of 24 to 36 months. 
  • Single eyeshadows have an average of 12 to 36 months. 
  • Liquid eyeshadows have an average of 12 months.

There are also physical indicators that tell you when your eyeshadow palette has expired. 

One of the simplest ways to check if your eyeshadow is still good is to smell it.  If the smell has changed at all then it is most likely no longer safe to use. 

Another good indicator is the color.  Once eyeshadow starts losing pigmentation, it is expired. 

If the texture has changed or the eyeshadow has started to harden, it is also time to let the palette go. 

If your eyeshadow has developed a film across the top of it, then it is no longer safe to use and should be discarded.

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When to throw out an eyeshadow palette

While I’m sure throwing out makeup is not at the top of your list of things you want to do, it is a necessity. 

You should throw out an eyeshadow palette whenever it has reached its expiration date.  Again it is very important to remember when you opened your eyeshadow so that you can accurately use the PAO to discard it at the right time.

There are a lot of physical characteristic changes that will also indicate when you should discard your eyeshadow. 

If cream eyeshadows become dry and crumbly, they should be discarded.  They should never be rehydrated with saliva or water as this will just breed bacteria. 

For any kind of eyeshadow, if there are changes in texture, hardness, color, or smell, then it is time to throw it out.

You should also pay attention to the appearance of your eyeshadow.

Liquid and cream eyeshadows already have moisture in them and over time moisture is introduced to all eyeshadows.  Because of this, you need to watch for the growth of mold on your eyeshadow.  Once you see an indication of mold, it is time to toss the eyeshadow in question.  

You should watch for any signs of your eyeshadow’s performance going downhill.  For instance, if you try to apply your favorite eyeshadow and the application is difficult because the product has become hard and difficult to blend, it is time to discard it.   

What happens if you use expired eyeshadow?

neutral eyeshadow palette with expiration date

Applying expired eyeshadow can actually allow the introduction of this bacteria and mold into your eyes.  This can cause you to get serious eye infections and irritation.  The skin around your eyes can become irritated, get rashes, or have breakouts from the bacteria and mold.  

Using expired eyeshadow can have many different side effects, some that target your physical well-being and some that affect the overall efficacy of the product. 

Because of this, it is very important that we keep track of when we open our eyeshadow and watch out for physical signs of expiration.

Over time all makeup begins to grow bacteria.  This is due to the breakdown of preservatives.  Sometimes we speed up this growth by introducing bacteria directly into the makeup.

  For example, if we apply cream eyeshadow with our fingers, we may be putting bacteria directly into the eyeshadow.  

As mentioned above, our liquid and cream eyeshadows have moisture in them.  This moisture can allow the growth of mold the longer we have them open, which is why it is important to heed the expiration dates.  

There are other effects of expired makeup that do not involve your well-being.  If you use your favorite eyeshadow after it has expired, you may notice it does not work as well as it used to. 

Over time, the palettes may become harder and more difficult to use.  Liquid and cream eyeshadows may dry out and become crumbly.   

How long can you keep unused eyeshadow?

You might be thinking that if you just do not open your eyeshadow then it cannot expire.  While unopened eyeshadow can last considerably longer than opened eyeshadow, it does not have an indefinitely long shelf life. 

Typically, your unopened eyeshadow will remain usable for 2 to 3 years.  Anything beyond this time will most likely result in expired eyeshadow.  Therefore, just like knowing when you open your eyeshadow, you also need to know when you buy it if you are not going to use it right away.

If you do not keep your eyeshadow in a cool, dry place, then it will not last for this average of 2 to 3 years even if you do not open it. 

The bathroom is one of the worst places to keep your makeup because the moisture and heat from the shower will affect the longevity of your products, whether opened or not. 

Cream eyeshadows are oil-based.  Over time this oil can actually go rancid.  Because of this, this type of eyeshadow may go bad within a few months unopened, especially if not kept out of the heat.

Conclusion on Eyeshadow Expiration

Whether eyeshadow is a daily part of your makeup regimen or just something you use for special occasions, you most likely have at least one palette, if not several.  Because you only use a little at a time, you may think that the palettes will last for years.  

Like all makeup, eyeshadow does expire and it is critical for the health of your eyes that you do not continue to use expired eyeshadow. 

Does eyeshadow expire? Not only expire but over time bacteria begins to grow in the eyeshadow, especially cream eyeshadow that has been applied with a finger, and this bacteria can come into contact with the eyes once it is applied to the eyelid.  Eye infections, skin irritations, and breakouts can occur.

You may think that you can hold onto unopened eyeshadow indefinitely until you are ready to use it.  Unopened eyeshadow is not expiration-free. 

You only have 2 to 3 years of storage before these products are considered expired.  

While makeup can be expensive and you may not want to throw out your favorite eyeshadow, you should not keep using it once it is expired.  This will keep you safe from the potential eye and skin infections.  It is a best practice to regularly go through your makeup drawer to root out expired products.

What’s Next? Related Makeup Posts:

Does Eyeshadow Expire? (A Helpful Guide by a MUA)

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