When we find really good lipsticks, and when they cost as much as an arm and leg, we desperately want them to last forever.
However, like all things, even lipsticks have a designated end time. The kicker is that many of us do not know what that is or how to be certain.
So, let’s talk about whether lipsticks expire, where we can find the expiry date, and if we cannot find one, how to tell when it’s time to stop using our favorite lipstick.
Do Lipsticks Expire
Yes, lipsticks do expire.
Now, Lipsticks do contain preservatives and other compounds that help to prevent the build-up of mold and bacteria.
But generally, they also do not contain water so that makes it easier to prevent the moisture from holding on to bacteria.
However, they are constantly exposed to your mouth (and your mouth is one of the areas of your body with the most bacteria), so many experts suggest that to be safe, you replace your lipsticks eventually.
Related Article – Natural & Permanent Ways to Darken Lips: Lipstick Alternatives
When Do Lipsticks Expire
If you do not see an expiry date on the container or packaging, a good rule of thumb is to replace your lipstick after at least a year of use.
Some of them can go up to 18 or 24 months, but that will vary depending on the product itself.
You should not be using lipstick that is older than 2 years. Preservatives that keep lipstick usable start to break down after a year and by the 2-year mark, they would have already been broken down enough for the lipstick to go bad.
This means that bacteria and mold would have started to set up shop by then (even if you cannot see them).
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Signs that Your Lipstick Has Expired
1- Change in texture
When your lipstick has started to go bad, you may notice that the texture has changed. It will most likely become dry and hard to spread around your lips. The surface of the lipstick may get gritty or bumpy.
On the other hand, they may get goopy instead. Either way, a change in texture means that the ingredients that hold the lipstick together have broken down.
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2- Beading moisture
Sometimes, when you leave your lipstick in your car, or in a humid place, you will start to see little beads of moisture that look almost like your lipstick is sweating.
This means that the preservatives and binding agents are starting to break down. This is why you should store your lipsticks in cool, dry places. However, if you store them well and still see this, it means it is time to toss them out.
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3- Change in smell
When you first buy your lipstick, they either smell lovely or they have no smell at all. Some products admittedly do not smell appealing but generally, lipsticks tend to smell well enough.
When lipstick has started to go bad, the oils in the lipstick begin to produce a rancid smell. Some of them may smell like old wax.
Any smell that is bad, weird or different from when you first bought your lipstick means that it is time to change it, especially if it is more than 1 year old.
4- Change in color
Some lipsticks may change color when expired.
If your lipstick has gotten darker or lighter, or if you see patches of dark or light color show up on different areas of the lipstick, it is likely time to throw that out.
Patchy discoloration can indicate mold, mildew or bacteria buildup.
5- A Skin Reaction
An obvious sign that your lipstick is no longer good to use is if you experience a skin reaction after using it. If you use your lipstick and all of a sudden you have a rash, breakouts, cold sores, redness, swelling, or any adverse reaction, it means that your lipstick has triggered your immune system.
This can mean that an ingredient has broken down and its byproducts are not being tolerated by your skin, or it could mean that it has collected way too many bacteria and germs for your skin to subtly fight off or ignore.
Related Article – Lipstick Allergies: How to Spot and Treat
How to Check for the Expiry Date of Lipstick
Some lipsticks have some kind of information printed on them about expiry while some may not have anything at all. Always check to see what you can find.
On some lipsticks, you may see an expiry date printed plainly (“EXP: <date>”)
Others may say that it is good for a number of months after the date of manufacture (“Exp: 24 months after Mfg date”)
A FEW may have a symbol that looks like an open jar with a number on it. This is the symbol for indicating the “PAO” or “period after opening” that the product is viable for.
Remember that you have no idea how long your supplier has had the lipstick you are now purchasing and since most lipsticks have a shelf life of 2 years maximum, you would need to know when to expect to have to throw it out. So, always check for expiry information.
What Happens If You Use Expired Lipstick
The risks associated with using expired lipstick are:
- Clogged pores
- Bacterial growth which will cause adverse skin reactions and infections
- The absorption of toxic chemicals.
If chemicals in lipstick are past their expiration date, your skin might react badly by becoming red, itchy, irritated or even swollen. Bacteria may quickly spread leading to breakouts or other infections.
Another frequent problem with outdated lipstick is mold. Mold can form as a result of moisture that accumulates within containers over time. This development may also result in breakouts, reactions, and irritation.
Additionally, many lipsticks may contain chemicals that are stable when held together but become toxic when they break down. When these get through your pores repeatedly, they can make you sick and/or block your pores.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it safe to use expired lipstick?
It is not safe to use expired lipstick.
Apart from the expired compounds getting into your pores, they can also be ingested when you lick your lips and eat.
Can an expired lipstick cause cold sores?
Yes, expired lipstick can cause cold sores.
Expired lipstick can have bacteria and fungi on them which can cause cold sores when they are constantly put on your lips.
Does lipstick expire if unopened?
Yes, even if you do not open a lipstick, it will still expire after a while.
Using it may speed up the breakdown process but it will still break down eventually.
Can I use expired lipstick as blush?
You should not use expired lipstick as blush. The expired ingredients can still get into your pores and block them or cause a reaction and breakouts.
Can I keep lipstick for 3,5, or 10 years?
You should not keep and use lipstick that is more than 2 years old.
Most good brands produce lipsticks that were manufactured to preserve themselves for up to 24 months. After that, the ingredients will break down and they will lose their preservative properties.