Does eyeshadow expire? Here's when to throw away your expired cosmetics

Does eyeshadow expire? Here's everything you need to know about throwing away your expired cosmetics

Shot of a young woman posing with colorful eyeshadow against a orange background with a trendy hairstyle
(Image credit: Getty Images / Delmaine Donson)

Eyeshadow undeniably holds as place as one of the most important parts of anyone's makeup bag—a makeup staple, if you will. And, when it comes to makeup bag staples, we know how to care for them by keeping them away from the elements, and with some of them, namely skincare, we are well au fait with checking whether or not they have expired. But, it's no surprise that many are yet to consider which of their make-up items it might be time to retire.

If you've ever wondered 'Does eyeshadow expire?' and 'how long does eyeshadow last?' there are a few simple rules to remember. 

Eyeshadow lasts for a considerably longer time than many other skincare products which tend to have a shorter shelf life. Whether it’s one of the very best eyeshadow palettes from beauty brand faves such as Nars or Illamasqua or a simple but super effective—and not to mention AFFORDABLE—drugstore purchase, the many ways to wear and style your eyeshadow are endless. 

Still, many of us are intimidated by how to use it—that’s where groundbreaking tech like the new Pinterest makeup features app that lets you try on over 4,000 eyeshadows really comes into its own—and knowing when and if it actually expires.

What are the different 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. Powdered eyeshadow tends to be favored by influencers and make-up artists but there really is a wide variety of finishes and formulas available. Eyeshadow typically comes in one of the following formulas:

  • Powdered eyeshadow. Powered eyeshadow is often most recommended for makeup beginners and is the most common type of eyeshadow. This is due to it being the most forgiving when it comes to blending. It also comes in different finishes, including matte, shimmer, and glitter.
  • Liquid eyeshadow.  Word to the wise, this can be more complicated to work with. But, the color pay-off and a dramatic finish are why top makeup artists reach for it. 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. Another stalwart piece in the kits of make-up artists and professionals alike. Loose powder eyeshadow is made from powdered pigment and is finely milled to create a stunning finish.

All the top make-up artists always recommend prepping your lid with a primer before applying your chosen formula or eyeshadow. This ensures that the surface you're applying eyeshadow to is smooth, and helps to keep it crease-free all day long, as well as enhancing its natural pigments.

A selection of the best eyeshadow palettes is pictured ontop of a pink gradient background, the selection includes...Illamasqua / Charlotte Tilbury / Laura Mercier / Norvina

(Image credit: Illamasqua / Charlotte Tilbury / Laura Mercier / Norvina)

Does eyeshadow expire?

Yes, your eyeshadow does expire, so you need to keep an eye on it. Generally—depending on what kinds it is—make-up is made to last somewhere between one month to two years. 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. 

An artfully blurred and stylized image of a close up on someones face with glittery eyeshadow

(Image credit: Getty Images / Jena Gardell)

How to tell if your eyeshadow has expired?

It is hard to tell when eyeshadow has truly expired, especially powdered eyeshadow, but, be sure to look out for 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 and if it has, introduce it to the bin. 

What happens if you use expired eyeshadow?

The eye area is especially delicate and expired products can cause major problems. Using expired or bad eyeshadow can lead to a host of problems, including pink eye, acne, rashes, or allergic reactions. 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. 

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