Is It Really Safe To Use Expired Makeup?

It's the unspoken sin of every cosmetics user out there. Although it's common knowledge that you should respect the "best-by" guidelines on your makeup and skincare, many of us continue to use these products past their expiration dates. In fact, in one study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, almost 98 percent of participants admitted to using expired makeup. It's not exactly popular to admit, but how bad can it be? How much risk are you actually taking on when you use makeup that's past its prime?

First, unopened makeup and skin-care products generally have a shelf-life of two to three years, if stored in a cool, dry place (via Healthline). When makeup is open, though, the clock starts ticking. Once exposed to the air, products are frequently exposed to bacteria — both from the environment and from the applicator (especially hands or fingers). Different products have different life spans after opening, but they're generally no more than 18 months (and less for eye products like mascara and eyeliner).

What happens when you use expired makeup?

Using expired makeup probably won't kill you. For the most part, expired makeup just doesn't work as well or apply as easily (via Bustle). However, just because you can still technically use it doesn't mean that you should chance it. According to Bustle, the preservatives in makeup will break down after a certain amount of time, making germ and bacteria growth more likely. This is especially true for plant-based products and those labeled as "all natural," since they're more likely to have ingredients that are friendly to growth — read: conducive to mold or bacterial growth (via Food & Drug Administration).

If you still want to know how much wiggle room you have, a good rule of thumb is to throw away anything that smells or looks off. According to the FDA, It's also a good idea to replace makeup after you have any colds, lip, or eye infections to avoid reintroducing bacteria. Lastly, if you can only choose one thing to replace frequently, make it your mascara and other eye products, since the eyes are the most vulnerable part of the face.