Does eyeshadow expire? Here's when to throw out your palettes and cream shadows

Wondering, does eyeshadow expire? This is what you need to know about expiry dates

model with pink eyeshadow
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you've spent your hard-earned cash makeup, you understandably want to use up the very last drop of foundation or sweep of blush. But how good are you at checking, does eyeshadow expire, or has that mascara gone off?

Eyeshadow (thankfully) lasts for a considerably longer time than lots of other makeup items with shorter shelf live, whether we're talking the best eyeshadow palettes or a single pan from brands like MAC or NARS. Still, if you're unsure when it's time to throw out a much-loved eyeshadow, our guide here contains everything you need to know. 

Does eyeshadow expire?

Yes! Generally, makeup lasts somewhere between a month to two years once opened. Eyeshadow, especially powdered eyeshadow, is a lot longer lasting and usually doesn’t expire for between 1-2 years.

However, this timeline shortens a bit when it comes to cream or water-based eyeshadow, or products containing oils, which expire sooner. All preservatives eventually break down over time, though, so even a powder eyeshadow palette isn't recommended for use past the three-year mark. 

According to the FDA, there are other factors to consider when it comes to your eyeshadow’s shelf life, too. If it's regularly exposed to moisture, dry air, or bacteria (such as from fingers), it could go bad quicker. Make sure to always use clean fingers, or a clean make-up brush, when applying eyeshadow, to avoid your eyeshadow expiring faster than average. 

How to tell if eyeshadow has expired

Some cosmetics are marked with a specific expiry date, which is the easiest way to tell when your palette or single shadow should be binned. But if you notice that it has become especially hard or difficult to blend, your eyeshadow should probably be thrown out. Be sure to also keep a particular eye out for any product that has a bad smell or mold growth. Additionally, if eyeshadow is often exposed to moisture or very high heat it's likely to turn, so keep an eye out for signs of expiry.

What happens if you use expired eyeshadow?

Generally, experts agree that using eyeshadow that is only just past its expiration date shouldn't cause serious issues, though it isn't exactly heavily advised. However, you shouldn't use eyeshadow that you know is well past its expriation date.

This is because the eye area is especially delicate, and expired products can cause issues, particularly in sensitive skin. Using expired or bad eyeshadow can lead to a host of problems, from pink eye to allergic reactions. 

Types of eyeshadow

Eyeshadow comes in many different forms and depending on whatever look you're after, from the bold to natural, there is an eyeshadow (or better yet, an eyeshadow palette) for that. They typically come in one of the following formulas.

  • Powder: Most often recommended for beginners and the most common type of eyeshadow. It's also the most forgiving when it comes to blending and comes in different finishes, including matte, shimmer, and glitter.
  • Liquid: More complicated to work with, but the color pay-off and dramatic finish are why top makeup artists reach for it. But for those skilled makeup users who want to create a truly photo-worthy look, a drop or two of liquid eyeshadow can completely transform your face.
  • Cream: Usually comes in a small pot and can be easily applied with a finger or brush. They can offer intense color and high pigment, but can dry easily if exposed to high heat or open air—so make sure they are tightly sealed after use. 
  • Loose pigment: Another stalwart in the kits of make-up artists and professionals alike. Loose powder eyeshadow is made from powdered pigment and is finely milled for a stunning finish.
Aleesha Badkar
Former Deputy Editor at My Imperfect Life

Aleesha was Deputy Editor and Beauty & Fashion Editor for My Imperfect Life, where she headed up the beauty, fashion and eCommerce pages. Previously she was Shopping Writer at woman&home and gained an AOP awards nomination after working on their news team. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including, Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. When she’s not testing all the new beauty & lifestyle products on the market, Aleesha spends her time soaking up the newest bestsellers and Netflix releases, watching everything Marvel, learning about different wines, attempting new languages and traveling as much as she can.