Beauty Expiry Dates: When to Throw Away

beauty expiry dates

Beauty expiry dates can be confusing, and many beauty and makeup lovers don’t actually realise that their products have a expiration date.

The PAO (Period After Opening) symbol is shown on the back of beauty products, demonstrating a small tub and letters/numbers. ‘M’ stands for months, so a 6M in a tub-shaped symbol means that it’s not best to use it after 6 months of opening.

Here’s a quick run-down of many popular beauty products and their expiry dates:

Mascara: 3 months

Because the inside tube of a mascara is a dark and wet environment, it is a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. The preservatives that are blended into your mascara only work for a short amount of time.

When the three-month time comes around, it’s likely that your mascara will be full of bacteria/germs that could cause serious eye infections, and it probably won’t be easy to apply either!

Foundation & Concealer: 6 months – 2 years

The lifespan of a foundation depends on various factors, like the consistency and form. Liquid, cream and powder foundations all have different PAO.

As a general rule, liquid foundations should be tossed after a maximum of 6 months, whilst powder foundations are good to be used for up to 2 years.

Washing your tools (like brushes) regularly and cleaning your hands before you handle foundations or concealer can help to get the best beauty expiry dates.

Lipstick and gloss: 1-2 years

Lipsticks and lip glosses tend to have longer beauty expiry dates than you’d expect, especially knowing that they’re essentially liquid products.

Lip glosses can be used for up to a year if you avoid pumping excess air into them, whilst traditional lipsticks are safe for up to two years when looked after!

Related: How to Find The Perfect Red Lipstick for Your Skin Tone 

Powder eye shadow, blusher & bronzer: 2 years

Although powders can last years longer than liquid beauty products, they can still go bad!

Powder products like eye shadows, blushers and bronzers all have a recommended shelf-life of 2 years; if you look after them well enough that is!

It’s worth watching our for discolouration, changes in smells or a build-up of waxy oils – these are all signs that you should not be using the product for much longer.

Related: Best Makeup to Bring Out Your Eye Colour

Nail polish: 2 years

Changes in colour, thickness, texture and separation can all be signs of a gone-off nail polish, but they should be good to use for up to 2 years.

These kinds of formulas are especially sensitive to temperature, sunlight and humidity – keep them out of the bathroom for their best chance to survive!

 Fragrance: Up to 10 years

Much like nail polishes, fragrances have a long beauty expiry date despite them being in liquid form.

Bright lights make perfumes oxidize; changing their chemicals to give off a different smell. Storing them in a cool, dark place can help your fragrances last longer, as well as ensuring that the cap is on securely between usage.



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  1. This post has been so informative!!! I never really thought about make-up having a use by date before, but I guess now I better have a look through my collection!

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