Pressed Powder: Expiring Too Soon?

In the general sense, what are the potential causes of a pressed powder, eyeshadow, blush, etc. expiring "too soon"?

By expiring too soon I mean performance degradation. In these examples there is no strange smell or change of color. The symptoms are more like change in texture (crumbling), change in blendability (patchiness), and change in appearance (shimmers/metallics/foils looking less bright or dry).

Unfortunately I only have an experiential understanding of chemistry but this is what I'm trying to learn so please, lay it on me and I'm happy to look up what I don't understand.

Finally, if you all have any recommended resources specifically for color/makeup (as they seem hard to come by), please let me know.

Bonus Question: What causes the change of smell in cosmetics (in general) that many describe as a Play-Doh or crayon-like smell?


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Change in texture is likely caused by a fluctuation in moisture content. So, a pressed powder loses moisture (through evaporation) and this causes it to start to crumble. This could also cause a color change and the patchiness you describe.

    Odor changes are a result of any or all of the following:
    1.  The fragrance evaporating
    2.  The fragrance molecules experiencing oxidation 
    3.  The oxidation of other ingredients in the product causing rancidity

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