As someone who wears mascara daily, I often find myself wondering – does mascara expire? With opened tubes sitting in my makeup drawer for months on end, how do I know when it’s time to toss my old mascara and purchase a fresh one?
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about mascara expiration, including how to tell if your mascara is past its prime, the health risks of using expired mascara, proper storage to extend its shelf life, and more.
Why Do Expiration Dates Matter for Mascara?
Unlike some other cosmetics, mascara has an increased risk of contamination. Our eyes are extremely sensitive, and introducing expired makeup with high bacterial levels can lead to eye infections, irritation, and other issues.
The Mayo Clinic recommends throwing out mascara 3 months after opening. After this point, it’s exposed to oxygen and your eyes’ natural bacteria, increasing contamination risks.
One study found used mascara samples contained significant levels of bacteria, mold, and yeast. Participants wearing expired mascara also had higher amounts of contamination on their faces.
Clearly, expiration dates matter when it comes to mascara! Once opened and exposed to air and use, it begins to degrade, making expiration dates critical.
Does Unopened Mascara Expire?
You may think unopened mascara doesn’t expire – but it does. Unopened mascara has a shelf life of 2 to 3 years.
Always check the expiration date on the packaging before purchasing or opening a new tube. The longer mascara sits unopened, the shorter its usable life will be once you open it.
Shelf lives can vary based on formula, packaging materials, and whether the mascara is waterproof or regular. Water-resistant mascaras tend to have shorter shelf lives.
Signs Your Mascara Has Expired
Wondering if that tube sitting in your makeup drawer is past its prime? Here are some signs your mascara has expired:
- Change in texture – Clumpy, dry, or overly wet mascara
- Change in color – Grey, discolored, or faded pigment
- Unpleasant odor – Rancid or rotten smell indicates bacteria growth
- Formula changes – Mascara doesn’t apply properly or flakes off
If you notice any of these signs, it’s definitely time to say bye-bye to that mascara and replace it with a fresh tube!
Can You Use Expired Mascara?
I don’t recommend using expired mascara. The risks simply aren’t worth it.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, expired mascara can cause eye infections, styes, and conjunctivitis. Yikes!
The FDA has also received complains of temporary and permanent blindness caused by contaminated eye makeup. Scary!
While you may be tempted to hold onto old mascara “just in case”, it’s safest to throw away mascara past 3 months of use.
What Factors Influence Mascara Shelf Life?
The FDA doesn’t require expiration dates or specific shelf lives for cosmetics like mascara. So what determines how long it lasts?
First, check the manufacturing date on the packaging. Count approximately 2 years from this date. Proper storage is also key – heat and humidity can shorten shelf life.
Once opened, oxygen exposure, light, bacteria from your eyes and applicator all impact the expiration clock. Toss it after 3 months!
How To Store Mascara Properly
Want to keep your mascara fresh as long as possible? Follow these mascara storage tips:
- Avoid heat and humidity (like bathrooms)
- Store in a cool, dark place
- Keep tube tightly sealed when not in use
- Consider airtight containers or bags
- Don’t store mascara in your makeup bag long-term
- Clean applicator bristles regularly
- Avoid sharing mascara
With proper storage, you can prolong the life of your mascara – but always be sure to adhere to expiration dates!
The Bottom Line
So, does mascara expire? Definitely! Both opened and unopened mascara should be tossed when past its prime.
Using expired mascara isn’t worth the risks of eye infections and irritation. Pay close attention to expiration dates, signs your mascara has expired, and proper storage techniques.
With this knowledge, you can ensure you always have fresh, safe mascara on hand for fabulous lashes!
Founded by Sophia Rodriguez, IGXO Cosmetics is a PETA-certified, cruelty-free, and vegan makeup brand.