Industry professionals readily tell you when to dispose of lipstick and other open cosmetics; it is much harder to find answers about the shelf life of unopened makeup. This is largely because bacteria transferred from your skin to your makeup via brushes, applicators and fingertips are the primary reason makeup breaks down and expires. Unopened makeup is not subjected to these conditions and can last much longer.

Storing Unopened Makeup

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are no specific rules about when unopened makeup expires. When stored under optimal conditions, unopened lipstick can last a long time. Optimal conditions entail a cool area free of sunlight and high temperatures. The refrigerator is a perfect place. As a rule, makeup experts recommend tossing used lipstick and glosses after one to two years. Both products last longer if kept in the refrigerator, both before opening and during use.

When to Say Goodbye

Because it is impossible to accurately determine an expiration date for unopened lipstick, it is important to recognize expired products. Expired lipstick loses its creamy consistency and is difficult to spread while expired lip gloss feels tacky and sticky. Changes in color or smell also indicate problems. If the color in the tube doesn’t match the sticker on the bottom or if the lipstick smells funky, throw it out.

Open but Unused

When you open a tube of lipstick, you expose it to the air, even if you don't use it. Err on the side of caution and throw away lipsticks and glosses one to two years after you open them, even if they were never used.