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Quick Guide to Expiration Dates for Makeup (and where to recycle!)

Quick Guide to Expiration Dates for Makeup (and where to recycle!)

Color Clutch provides the perfect way to recycle your unwanted nail polish - COLORCLUTCHX. But what about your unwanted and/or expired makeup? We’re here to show you how easy it is to properly recycle and safely dispose of those ancient eye shadow pallets in the back of your drawer and that lipstick tube you may have ‘borrowed’ from your mom back in high school.

First, did you know that makeup has expiration dates?

Many people hang onto their makeup for years, even decades. Let’s not do that, please!

Have you seen this symbol on your cosmetics before? This is called a PAO symbol; a period-after-opening symbol. As it’s name suggests, it identifies the useful lifespan of a product after the package has been opened for the first time. “12M” would mean that the product is good for 12 months after the time you open it.

Not every makeup product has this symbol, though. If you find something that doesn't mark its PAO, the chart below provides a go-to amount of time you can use a variety of products before worrying about a loss of freshness or even bacterial contamination. 


Data from Earth 911, graphic from Color Clutch.


Since nail polish isn't applied to your face or any overly-sensitive areas, it's lifetime is a little more lenient. Unopened bottles can last indefinitely, but opened bottles will usually last around two years (depending on how you store it and how often you open it). Once opened, some ingredients evaporate which causes the polish to thicken and become difficult to work with. To extend the life of your polishes, the key is proper storage. We have some great tips for storing your polish to help it last longer!


Now that we know WHEN to say goodbye to our makeup and polish, we shall discuss HOW to say goodbye.

For gently used cosmetics products:

Do some research and look into your local women’s shelter. Most of them will gladly take your makeup, sanitize it, and give it to women that use their services. Recycling + bringing someone a little bit of happiness… it’s a win-win.

For very used products, expired products, empties:
Check to see if the product’s brand has a recycling program. Below are some companies that have services for customers to bring back their empty makeup packaging to the store to recycle. Some even offer free gifts or some type of recycling rewards!

MAC Cosmetics – The ‘Back to MAC Program’ offers a free lipstick of your choice in exchange for every six used containers you return to a MAC store or online through their website
Lip-Ink International – For every four empty Lip-Ink Lip Color tubes you return for recycling, Lip Ink offers free lipsticks and free shipping with online purchases!
Origins – In 2009, Origins formed the first cosmetic packaging recycling program in the beauty industry. The ‘Return to Origins’ program accepts a wide range of packaging from any cosmetic brand made from many materials including glass, plastic, bottles, tubes and lipstick caps. All you have to do is drop off your empty packaging to an Origins store. You can find your closest Origins location at in the “Find a Store” section.


Now that we know when and how to recycle both our nail polish and makeup, we can be sustainable, conscious consumers of all our beauty products! #win


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