Home Makeup How Long Do Eyeshadow Palettes Last?

How Long Do Eyeshadow Palettes Last?

by Gabbi

Eyeshadow is one of those beauty staples that everyone has in their makeup bag. It’s a great way to add dimension and fun to your look.

Feeling tired? Certain eyeshadows can make your eyes look awake. Going on a date after work? Swipe some eyeshadow on to add a sultry evening look to your face instantly.

Needless to say, eyeshadow is one of those things that most women have stashed in their makeup bags so that they always have it on hand. 

If you’re anything like us, you might have several different eyeshadow palettes for different occasions. And you might have these for years because eyeshadow palettes don’t run out fast.

So, how long do eyeshadow palettes last? Generally, most powdered eyeshadow is made to last 2-3 years. However, the specific longevity of your shadow will be dependent on the brand and the ingredients that were used in manufacturing. If you have cream or water-based eyeshadow, it expires a lot quicker than powdered eyeshadow – in under a year.

If you’ve been keeping eyeshadow palettes for months or years, it might be time to go through them and get rid of them. 

In this article, we will do a deep dive into how long eyeshadow palettes typically last, how to tell if they’ve started to go bad, and why you never want to put expired eyeshadow on your lids.

Does Eyeshadow Go Bad?

Yes, eyeshadow can go bad. Before you run to dispose of all of your favorite shadow palettes, here’s the good news: eyeshadow lasts considerably longer than most other makeup.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are still components in the eyeshadow that can expire and deteriorate.

Expired eyeshadow is not fun to use. First of all, it might be downright dangerous, causing irritation and other issues with your skin. Getting expired eyeshadow in your eyes is even more harmful.

Secondly, it can start to perform worse. Expired eyeshadow sometimes changes color and texture, and starts to clump up, and gather in the fine lines of your eyelids. Not a great look!

So, if your eyeshadow is past its expiration date, it might be time to say goodbye and replace it.

How Long Should You Keep Eyeshadow?

If you’re wondering when is the right time to retire your eyeshadow, we have some tips to help you figure it out.

Generally, most powdered eyeshadow is made to last 2-3 years. However, the specific longevity of your shadow will be dependent on the brand and the ingredients that were used in manufacturing.

If you have cream or water-based eyeshadow, it expires a lot quicker than powdered eyeshadow – in under a year.

That’s because “wet” eyeshadows usually contain certain oils that can break down and cause separation and other issues if used beyond their expiration date.

Thankfully, most eyeshadow palettes are made with powdered eyeshadow which tends to last the longest. You can expect it to be safe to use for at least 2 years.

To get a specific number on your eyeshadow’s longevity, look at the packaging. In the US, makeup has to come with required labels somewhere on the packaging, that you can use as a guide to determine how long your product lasts.

Look around the packaging for an image of a makeup jar with a number inside of it – this number indicates how many months after opening your product should be safe to use. For example, if it says 24M on the label of your eyeshadow, then you can safely us it for 24 months or 2 years.

It’s important to remember that these numbers are intended to be used as guidelines.

There are many factors that can affect how long your eyeshadow lasts, for example, if it gets exposed to a lot of moisture or bacteria, it can expire a lot quicker than what the packaging says.

This is why, in addition to looking for the expiration information from the manufacturer, you should also pay attention to the state of the eyeshadow itself to determine if it’s still safe to use.

How To Tell That It’s Time To Throw Your Eyeshadow Away

If your eyeshadow starts to go bad, you will sometimes notice visible signs of its deterioration. Do not ignore those. Your eyes and nose are your best friends when it comes to sniffing out expired makeup.

Texture Changes

The first sign of eyeshadow that has overstayed its welcome is that it becomes hard. If you’re noticing that your eyeshadow feels more packed in, harder to pick up with a brush, and more difficult to blend, it’s likely starting to get too old. 

Hard eyeshadow in and of itself isn’t cause for concern. You can probably still use it safely as long as you don’t mind that decrease in quality, however, it’s a first sign for you to start paying attention and starting to look for a replacement palette soon.


Expired eyeshadow can develop visible spots of discoloration. This could be due to a few different things: ingredients separating and mold.

Because mold is dangerous for your health, if you notice any discoloration on your eyeshadow, it’s best to throw it out immediately.

Even if the discoloration was caused by changes in pigment, rather than mold, it’s better to be safe than sorry and throw it out, as it’s definitely past its prime one way or the other.

Funky Smells

Another big clue that your eyeshadow palette has expired is the smell. Pay attention to subtle scent changes, especially if you’re getting close to the expiration date. 

Expired eyeshadow doesn’t always smell bad. But it will smell different. It might have a more chemical smell or a damp moldy smell. 

If there is bacterial growth, it can even get an unpleasant musky smell.

Either way, if you’ve noticed a change in smell, it’s best to chuck it. Your eyeshadow won’t smell different unless it has begun to undergo irreversible changes that are likely harmful.

What Happens If You Use Expired Eyeshadow?

If you use eyeshadow that has gone bad, you are putting yourself and your health at risk. This is because your eyelids are considered a very delicate area, where your skin is thin and sensitive.

Many people have issues with unexpired products going on their eyelids and causing irritation. Imagine putting something that has gone rancid, moldy, or overgrown with bacteria on your sensitive eyelids! 

Although using eyeshadow a few weeks past its expiration point won’t kill you, if you notice that the eyeshadow has gone bad (through texture changes, discoloration, and smell), you might give yourself irritation, swelling, redness, itchiness, and potentially an infection.

If any of it gets into your eyes, it can lead to more problems, including an eye infection that will need to be treated with antibiotics.

Of course, this is the worst-case scenario. If you accidentally used slightly expired eyeshadow and now you’re panicking, don’t worry. Most likely nothing will happen. Just remove the eyeshadow from your eyes as soon as possible using a gentle cleanser and toss it in the trash. 

Even if your eyeshadow isn’t technically expired and you’re not noticing any funky smells, if every time you wear it, it gives you a rash or discomfort, it’s best to get rid of it and invest in another product that won’t irritate your eyelids.

How To Make Your Eyeshadow Palettes Last Longer

If you want to ensure that your eyeshadow palettes are able to last as long as the packaging says without going bad ahead of their time, there are a few things you can do:

Clean Your Brushes

One of the best ways to ensure that your eyeshadow doesn’t get contaminated by bacteria is to keep your brushes extra clean with something like a makeup brush shampoo. That means sanitizing your eyeshadow brushes between each use.

For that same reason, you should avoid dabbing your fingers into the eyeshadow because they can carry bacteria as well.

Avoid Moist Environments

Mold in eyeshadow is usually caused by humid and moist environments. So, if you normally keep your eyeshadow under the sink, where it can sometimes get wet and warm, you might want to re-think this.

In fact, anywhere in your bathroom is probably not a great place to store your eyeshadow, especially if you don’t have very good ventilation.

To help your eyeshadows last longer, keep them in a dry, cool place. We recommend using organizer drawers that you can easily bring to the bathroom or use to store under your sink for an extra barrier of protection.

For more ideas on storing eyeshadow palettes, take a look at this video from MissAlinaMina on YouTube.


Another thing you can do to ensure that there isn’t any bacteria or mold growing on or in your eyeshadow is to spritz a little bit of isopropyl alcohol over the surface of it every month or so.

Be careful with this trick, however. You don’t want to add too much alcohol to your eyeshadow because some of it might later end up on your skin, and the last thing you want to do is cause your eyeshadow to dry out your eyelids!

But a spitz of alcohol once every month or two can help ensure no germs are getting comfortable in your eyeshadow palette.

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