Eyeliner is one of the most versatile makeup products you can use. Millions of women use it to define their eyes and emphasize their best features. It is excellent for creating any kind of look, from a subtle daytime smoky eye to an intense cat eye.

However, even the best eyeliners expire after so long. So what does that mean for your favorite eyeliner? How to tell if eyeliner is expired? Can you still use it if it’s expired?

It can be tricky to tell if eyeliner is expired or gone bad, but with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to spot the signs of spoilage before it’s too late. There are some common indicators to know if eyeliner is expired or gone bad.

How to Know If Your Eyeliner Has Expired


Here’s how to tell if your eyeliner has gone bad:

1. The color has changed

If your eyeliner had turned an off color (for example, if it is dark brown when it used to be black), then this could mean that it’s gone bad or probably expired and should be thrown out immediately. The same goes for any other color changes; something may be wrong if your liner isn’t quite as bright or dark as usual.

2. The texture has changed

If the texture feels different than usual, toss it. Natural oils in your skin and makeup products can cause them to go bad over time and become hard and crumbly instead of creamy and smooth when applied to your skin.

3. The smell has changed

If it smells strange or “off,” then it’s also expired and needs to be thrown away immediately. Eyeliners should not smell like anything other than their original scent (if they have one). If you notice a foul odor from your eyeliner bottle, throw it away immediately.

Open up another tube of eyeliner from your collection and compare them side by side if you’re unsure what regular eyeliner should smell like. If there is a noticeable difference between the two smells, then one of them is probably expired.

4. Mold or bacteria growth

If you notice any kind of mold or bacteria growth in your eyeliner, don’t use it. This could signify that bacteria has infected the product, which will cause eye infections if you use it.

Does Liquid Eyeliner Expire?

Yes, liquid eyeliner expires. Liquid eyeliner is famous for many women because it’s easier to apply than pencil or gel. The formula comes in a pen form or a small container with an applicator brush attached at the end.

Liquid eyeliner has a shelf life of between three to six months. After this time, the liquid will start to dry out, and won’t go on as smoothly as it used to. The quality of the makeup will start to deteriorate, and due to the bacteria that is probably present in the cosmetics container, it will start to apply less effectively, rub off more quickly or smear, and it may irritate the skin.

Liquid eyeliner usually has an expiration date stamped on the bottle, but if it doesn’t, here are some signs that your liquid eyeliner has expired:

Signs That Your Liquid Eyeliner Has Expired

1. If the consistency changes

Liquid eyeliner should be smooth and consistent in texture before opening. After opening, the consistency can change due to exposure to air, which leads to clumping or streaking. If your liquid eyeliner has changed in texture after opening, it could indicate that it’s expired.

Liquid eyeliners should be thick enough not to run down your face or onto your cheeks when appropriately applied but thin enough so that they can be easily applied without tugging at your skin too much. The consistency has changed if you notice that your liquid eyeliner has started running down your face when you use it.

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2. If it looks cloudy

Liquid eyeliners with high-quality pigments tend to look clear when they are fresh out of the package. Cloudy liquid liners usually mean that particles are floating around inside of them, and these particles will eventually settle at the bottom of your bottle. However, if you notice any cloudiness in your liquid liner after several months of use (or even weeks), then chances are good that it’s already bad.

3. If the color has changed or has become dull

This could be because of oxidation or exposure to heat and light. Oxidation causes the color of the liquid eyeliner to fade over time. Exposure to heat and sunlight causes the pigment in the eyeliner to lose its vibrancy and become dull and faded-looking. Once this happens, there is nothing you can do to recover the color except replace it with a new one.

4. If it smells strange

If your liquid eyeliner has gone bad, it will likely have a foul odor not present when fresh out of the bottle. Dispose of your eyeliner immediately and don’t use it again until you’ve replaced it with a new product tube if it smells strange when you apply it.

5. If the applicator had changed shape or appearance from when you first purchased it

If your liquid liner applicator looks different than it did when you bought it, if there are dents in the brush, or if little bits are missing from the tip, then throw away the product immediately because there may be bacteria growing inside the tube.

ALSO READ: The Best Makeup Setting Sprays to Lock in Your Makeup

How Long Should You Keep Eyeliner?

set of eyeliners

The shelf life of eyeliner depends on how well you store it and its composition. Read the label carefully to determine how long you can keep your eyeliner. As long as you store them properly, eyeliner will last at least a couple of years. Some formulas last up to 24 months, while others have a shelf life of up to 18 months.

Eyeliners with creamy formulas tend to go bad faster than pencil and liquid ones. However, even if you’re using a pencil eyeliner, if you don’t clean your brush regularly with an ongoing makeup brush cleaner and sanitizer spray, then your brush could become contaminated. But as a general rule, most cosmetic products should last around two years before they expire, although there are exceptions to this rule.

Eyeliner made with pigments or dyes is stable and doesn’t expire quickly. You may have heard that some types of mascara are not safe for use after their expiration date because they become contaminated with bacteria and other microorganisms. That’s not true for all mascaras, but it does happen occasionally.

The same goes for eyeliners and lipsticks; some brands go bad faster than others due to the ingredients used in their formulas. You shouldn’t have any problems with some eyeliner brands going bad before their expiration date, even if you don’t use them regularly.

If you want to keep your eyeliner for as long as possible, here are some tips:

  • Store your eyeliner in a cool place away from direct sunlight. This will prevent it from drying out or melting due to heat exposure.
  • Ensure that you close the lid tightly after each use so that air does not get into the container and dry out the product inside.

What Does Expired Eyeliner Look Like?

The best way to tell if your eyeliner has expired is to look for signs of deterioration in its texture or appearance:

  • Crumbly and dry
  • Hard to apply or clumpy when applied (it may also fall out)
  • Worn down color that is not as black as it should be (this is especially noticeable after a few weeks if you keep using the eyeliner)
  • Smudges easily
  • Change in smell or consistency
  • Hard to remove
  • Pulling off at the corners of your eyes or if it flakes off when applying.

Can You Use Expired Eyeliner?

Eyeliner is one of those products that you should never use after its expiration date. If you use expired eyeliner, you could have a severe injury.

Expired eyeliner is often dry and brittle but can also be sticky and hard to apply. It might come off in clumps or flake away into pieces during the day, which could cause irritation and redness around the eyes. If your eyeliner looks like this, throw it away and get a new one.

The main concern when using expired eyeliner is a bacterial infection. The bacteria that cause infections thrive in warm, moist environments like the human body, especially around the eyes, where there are openings in the skin. Using an old mascara or liquid liner tube can increase your risk of getting an eye infection because these products come into direct contact with your eye tissue when applied correctly.


The expiration date is usually on the packaging of most cosmetics, and they are a good indication of how long you can continue using them. However, there are some instances in which they can be unreliable, but as long as you take note of any changes in texture, color, or smell of your makeup, it’s not going to hurt to throw away items that you aren’t sure about and replace them with new ones.

Disclosure: This article, other beauty and fashion tips on SheBegan are contributed by experienced fashion professionals, beauty & cosmetics experts. Read our full research and editorial process here. Also, our posts may contain affiliate links, read our full affiliate disclosure

Abimboye Femi is an experienced Beauty Expert. Over the years, he has developed an uncanny nose for sniffing out the perfect fragrance as well as an eye for best beatification practices. He brings to bear, his vast knowledge of research to help deliver rich contents centered on Beauty and Cosmetics.

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