If something doesn't have an expiration date written on it (or, you know, if it's not edible), then I generally don't think of it as going bad, but if you've got old mascara tubes lying around that look or feel clumpy (or have just been sitting in your cabinet for a long time), you might be wondering: Does mascara expire? Just because it doesn't have a date stamped on the side, doesn't mean it's good to use indefinitely.
You may not know this, but makeup totally expires. It's not like a carton of eggs that you have to toss after a certain date or risk getting sick, but it isn't something you can buy and expect to last forever. If you want to get the most out of your cosmetics, then you want to use them within their appropriate time frame. How long you can use a product for varies, but unlike foundation or concealer, mascara is one that you might tend to have stick around in your drawer longer. You may not use it everyday like you would cover-up, or you could buy new brands or try different types and then those old tubes pile up. You don't want your makeup looking clumpy — or worse, have contaminations lead to infections. Yuck.
So just how long can you use your mascara for? While the shelf life is two to three months, you don't have to toss it every couple of months on the regs. However, if you start to notice it getting clumpy or smelling weird, it's time to throw it out. Another good rule of thumb? Don't let it exceed six months.
Need to stock up on some new mascara now? Here are seven fresh tubes to shop.
1. Charlotte Tilbury
5 Star Mascara, $29, nordstrom.com
If you haven't tried the celebrity favorite yet, it's the perfect time to.
Diorshow, $27.50, nordstrom.com
Want extra length? Try Dior's lash extension mascara.
Definicils Mascara, $13, nordstrom.com
For high definition, this mascara is it.
X-Rated Mascara, $22, nordstrom.com
This mascara will give you all the drama your lashes need.
5. Bobbi Brown
Smokey Eye Mascara, $33, nordstrom.com
You have to use this mascara when creating a smokey eye.
3D Black Lash Mascara, $22, nordstrom.com
This mascara curls and conditions your lashes, too.
7. Urban Decay
Pervasion Mascara, $22, nordstrom.com
Lengthen and volumize all in one, so you don't have to buy two different tubes.
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Images: Guille Faingold/Stocksy; Nordstrom