5 beauty products you should never use past the expiry date

Young African woman putting moisturizer on her face while getting ready in her bathroom in the morning beauty product
There are several beauty products that should be thrown out after their expiry date. (Getty Images)

When a beauty product finds its way into someone’s makeup bag, chances are it won’t be removed until it has completely run out and needs to be replaced. Yet, one expert has warned that this practice could be posing a health risk.

“Using products beyond their recommended expiry dates comes with many risks,” Justmylook’s beauty expert Hayley Walker says.

“Over time products with active ingredients like sunscreens and anti-aging creams lose their effectiveness overtime as the product becomes less active. This leads to the product losing its ability to provide the desired results. This can be dangerous, especially for the use of SPF, as it increases the risk of sunburn and sun damage.”

Along with sunscreen, Walker says there are several other products that you should never use beyond the expiration date. We detail these, below.

Walker explains that mascara has a limited shelf life thanks to its liquid formation, which can actually encourage bacterial growth.

“Using expired mascara increases the risk of introducing bacteria to the eyes, leading to infections such as conjunctivitis or styes,” she says.

“Applying contaminated mascara to your lashes can transfer these pathogens to your eyes, potentially causing infections that may result in redness, itching, swelling, and discharge.”

Outdated mascara could lead to infections. (Getty Images)
Outdated mascara could lead to infections. (Getty Images)

As sunscreen contains active ingredients such as chemical UV filters and physical blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, Walker says these can lose their effectiveness over time which is why she would never use expired SPF.

“This reduces the sunscreen's ability to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation, making it less effective in preventing sunburn and long-term skin damage,” she adds. “This puts you at a higher risk of sunburn, premature ageing, and an increased chance of developing skin cancers.”

Treatments and serums also contain active ingredients, which can reduce effectiveness over time.

“This can result in the product being less capable of addressing specific skincare concerns for which it was originally formulated,” Walker explains. “Over time, expired ingredients may undergo changes, leading to skin irritation or allergic reactions. If you are using skincare products to manage specific skin conditions like acne, hyperpigmentation, or fine lines, using expired products may not provide the intended benefits.

“In some cases, it might even worsen the condition due to the decreased effectiveness of the active ingredients.”

Like mascara, liquid eyeliner should be used with caution as it can be a “breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to eye infections, irritation, or conjunctivitis”.

“Liquid eyeliners are made up of a blend of ingredients designed to uphold their texture and application characteristics. As the product expires, these components can deteriorate, causing the formula to change, consistency, or colour,” Walker says. “Using an altered formula may lead to an uneven application or unforeseen reactions on the sensitive skin around the eyes.”

Liquid eyeliner can also harbour bacteria. (Getty Images)
Liquid eyeliner can also harbour bacteria. (Getty Images)

Liquid foundation is another product that can harbour bacteria once it has expired.

Walker adds: “This can increase the risk of breakouts and acne when applied to the face.”

Walker says the average shelf life of some commonly used beauty products are as follows:

  • Cleanser: 1-2 years

  • Moisturiser: 1-2 years

  • Serums and Treatments: 6 month - 1 year

  • SPF: 1-2 years

  • Liquid Foundation: 6 months - 1 year

  • Mascara: 3-6 months

  • Eyeliner: 1-2 years

  • Fake tan: 6 months - 2 years

  • Lipstick and glosses: 1-2 years

  • Nail Polish: 1-2 years

  • Body cream: 1-2 years