Do Lip Liners Ever Expire?

If you're like many people, you buy lip liner, put it in a makeup bag, and use it until it runs out. If you don't wear it every day, a lip liner can last for years. But is it still safe to use? You may wonder whether lip liners expire and how long it is safe to use them. You're in luck - we have done the research for you!

Lip liner does eventually expire. A lip liner can generally be used for 1-2 years after you open it or until it runs out - whichever comes first. Sharpening your liner regularly and keeping the cap firmly closed when you are not using it will make your lip liner last longer.

In this post, we'll explain how long lip liner lasts and why it's important to adhere to expiration dates for makeup. Read on to learn more about why it's important to throw out expired makeup, how to do so, and some ideas for substitutions if your lip liner has expired.

Young woman applying lip liner on her lips on white background, Do Lip Liners Ever Expire?

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When Does Lip Liner Expire?

Unlike many other cosmetic products, lip liners can be sharpened, which removes the outside layer. That gives lip liner a longer shelf life than other kinds of makeup because surface bacteria are less likely to build up over time. You can use a lip liner for 1-2 years or until you sharpen it all the way down, whichever comes first.

Most makeup products have a PAO (Period After Opening) symbol to let you know how long you can use a product after you open it.

The PAO symbol consists of a number followed by the letter "M," which indicates the number of months until the product expires. You should count the months from when you first open the product, not from the purchase date. If the color or texture of your lip liner has changed, that's also a good indication that it's time to throw it out.

Period after opening PAO symbol set

If stored in a cool, dry place, an unopened lip liner will last about 2-3 years before it expires. It's generally best to store makeup outside of the bathroom because moisture will shorten the shelf life, even for unopened products.

A cabinet or refrigerator can be a good place to store makeup. Be sure to sharpen your liner regularly and keep the cap firmly closed when you are not using it to avoid bacteria buildup.

This Revlon sharpener is a popular option that works on both wooden and plastic liner pencils.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Pencil Liner Vs. Liquid/Gel Liner

Most lip liners are pencils; however, liquid and gel liners are also available. Both types of products help to define your lip line and keep your lipstick fresh and long-lasting.

However, pencil liners have a longer shelf life than liquid or gel liners. A liquid or gel lip liner should be replaced every six months, whereas a pencil liner can last for 1-2 years with proper care.

Read more: Do You Really Need Lip Liner?

One of the main reasons that makeup products expire is that bacteria build up on the surface over time. If these bacteria transfer to your skin, they can cause irritation and infection.

Pencil liners are sharpened, which means that you are regularly removing the surface on which bacteria could form. That's why a pencil liner will last longer than a liquid or gel liner before you need to replace it.

This highly rated NYX lip liner pencil comes in ten different shades that will pair with many different lipstick shades.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

How Long Do MAC Lip Liners Last?

Even high-quality cosmetic products like MAC lip liners have an expiration date. MAC lip liners, like most lip liners, expire about 1-2 years after opening. In addition to the PAO code, MAC products have batch codes on them.

The batch code consists of three characters. The first letter tells you the number of the batch run (A=1, B=2, etc.).

The second character tells you the month of manufacture (1=January, 2=February, etc., then A=October, B=November, C=December).

Finally, the third character is a number that tells you the year of manufacture. For example, the batch code A12 would indicate that the product was part of the first batch run in January 2012.

If you don't remember when you opened your lip liner, check the batch code to give you some idea of how long ago it might have been. (Also, if you don't remember when you opened the product, it may be time to replace it!)

Why Is It Bad To Use Expired Makeup?

Expired makeup works less efficiently than new makeup. The consistency and color of the product change as the chemicals break down over time. The color of an expired product will be less bright, and the product won't apply as smoothly as a new one would.

The most important reason to throw out your old, expired makeup is that it can actually cause damage to your skin. As previously mentioned, cosmetics trap surface bacteria over time.

When introduced to your skin, the bacteria can cause skin irritation and breakouts. In some circumstances, they can even lead to skin or eye infections.

If you have recently gotten sick, be sure to discard the makeup products you were wearing (or sharpen the liner pencil before you use it again). The bacteria from your illness can live on the surface of lipstick or liner, so discarding the product will help to avoid reinfection.

Read more: Should Lip Liner Be Darker Than Lipstick?

How To Discard Expired Makeup

Many cosmetics stores will recycle old makeup for you, and some even have rewards programs for recycling. Call your local store to see if they accept empty makeup containers. They may have restrictions on the brands or types of product containers they can accept for recycling.

If recycling at a store is not an option, you can also send your empty containers to a recycling program.  TerraCycle is a national network of free recycling programs. You can print a return label and mail your cosmetics containers (and other hard-to-recycle items) to be responsibly recycled.

You can also recycle some glass and plastic makeup product containers at home. Make sure all glass and plastic bottles are cleaned out and emptied before you put them in the recycling bin.

Don't empty unused cosmetics into the sink. Instead, wipe them out with a paper towel or baby wipe. Then place the paper towel in a sealed bag and throw it in the garbage. It's important to put unused cosmetic products into a sealed plastic bag so the chemicals won't seep into the ground.

Unfortunately, mascara tubes, lipstick tubes, and liner pencils cannot be recycled, even if they are made of plastic. These should be tightly sealed, placed in a sealed plastic bag, and thrown in the garbage.

What Can You Substitute For Lip Liner?


Businesswoman is applying lipstick while preparing for work

You checked your lip liner and it was expired, so you responsibly disposed of it. But you don't have a replacement! Now what?

Don't worry! You can use a lip brush or cotton swab to apply lipstick like a liner. You may even be able to get a cleaner line than with lip liner. Plus, you won't have to worry about color matching because you can use the same product for the liner and the actual lip.

If you want to create contrast, you can also use a different lipstick for the liner than for the actual lip. Just be sure to blend the two colors.

You can also use fingers or a lip brush to line your lips with a powder or liquid foundation. Keep in mind that blending the foundation may cause your lipstick color to look a little bit lighter than usual.

In Closing

Young woman applying lip liner on her lips on white background, Do Lip Liners Ever Expire?

Lip liner is a great product that keeps your lipstick looking freshly applied for hours. However, like all makeup, it has an expiration date.

Keep track of when you open your lip liner and discard it after 1-2 years or if you notice a change in the color or smell. You can make sure your lip liner lasts as long as possible by sharpening it regularly, keeping it tightly closed and sealed when you're not using it, and storing it in a cool, dry place.

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