The need to know: does eyeshadow expire?

Does eyeshadow expire? Here's everything you need to know

Model backstage wearing eyeshadow
(Image credit: Getty Images / Wireimage)

For any make-up junkie, eyeshadow is an essential component of their beauty arsenal. Whether it’s one of the very best eyeshadows from faves such as Mac or Charlotte Tilbury or a simple drugstore purchase, the many ways to wear your eyeshadow are endless. Still, many of us are intimidated by how to use it – and that’s where groundbreaking tech like the new Pinterest app that lets you try on over 4,000 eyeshadows really comes into its own. Unlike skincare products, which typically have a shorter shelf life, eyeshadow lasts for a longer time. But even so, for those who might be wondering ‘Does eyeshadow expire? there are a few simple rules to remember.   

Eyeshadow comes in many different forms

Whether you like a natural look or prefer to rock a bold make-up style, there is an eyeshadow for that. Many make-up gurus prefer a powdered eyeshadow, but there is a wide variety of formulas and finishes to choose from. Eyeshadow typically comes in one of the following formulas:

  • Powdered eyeshadow. This is the most common type, and the one most recommended for those who are just beginning to experiment with make-up. Powdered eyeshadow is usually the easiest to blend and comes in different finishes, including matte, shimmer, and glitter.
  • Liquid eyeshadow. While this often offers a stunning color pay-off and a dramatic finish, it can be more complicated to work with. Still, for those who feel up to a challenge and want to create a truly photo-worthy look, a drop or two of liquid eyeshadow can completely transform your face.
  • Cream eyeshadow. Usually comes in a small pot or pan and can be easily applied with a finger or brush. Cream eyeshadow offers intense color and high pigment, but can dry easily if exposed to high heat or open air – so make sure your cream shadows are tightly sealed after use. 
  • Loose pigment eyeshadow. Perfect for make-up artists and professionals, loose powder eyeshadow is made from powdered pigment and is finely milled to create a stunning finish.

No matter what formula of eyeshadow you prefer, make sure to prep your lid with a primer before applying shadow. This will help your eyeshadow to remain crease-free and smooth all day long, as well as enhancing its natural pigments.

Does eyeshadow expire? Eyeshadow palette crushed

(Image credit: Getty Images Jack Miskell Photography)

So, does eyeshadow expire?

Most make-up is made to last between one month to two years depending on what kind. Eyeshadow, especially powdered eyeshadow, usually doesn’t expire for two to three years. However, this timeline shortens a bit when it comes to cream or water-based eyeshadow. Some of these products, such as cream eyeshadow, contain oils, which can break down over time and cause the product to go bad. 

Preservatives in all make-up break down over time, so even a powdered eyeshadow palette isn't recommended for use past the three-year mark. Still, in most cases, the only way that you can notice your powdered eyeshadow isn’t as fresh as it should be is if you see that it has become especially hard or difficult to blend. In that case, it should probably be thrown out. 

According to the FDA, some factors should be considered when it comes to your eyeshadow’s shelf life. If eyeshadow is exposed to moisture, dry air or bacteria from fingers or other dipping instruments, it could go bad quicker. For example, if you are regularly applying cream shadow with your fingers, you could notice the product tends to go bad more quickly. Make sure to always use clean fingers, or a clean make-up brush, when applying eyeshadow. 

What happens if you use expired eyeshadow?

It is hard to tell when eyeshadow has truly expired, especially powdered eyeshadow. Still, it is important to throw away any product that has a bad smell or mold growth. Additionally, if eyeshadow is exposed to harsh conditions, such as environments with a lot of moisture or very high heat, keep an eye out for signs that it has gone bad. Using expired or bad eyeshadow can lead to a host of problems, including pink eye, acne, rashes, or allergic reactions. The eye area is especially delicate and expired products can cause major problems.

When it comes to your eyes, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even though eyeshadow is one of the most durable and long-lasting make-up products, special care should still be taken to make sure that you aren't using anything that could cause your eyes harm.