All beauty products expire. Unfortunately, only products regulated as over-the-counter drugs (like SPF or acne products) have official expiration dates on their packaging.
Other beauty products (like makeup and skincare) use a PAO date. PAO, or Period After Opening, tells you how many months after opening a product that the product is still good for. It’s typically shown as a number followed by an M and an open jar icon. I’m sure you’ve seen it! For example, “12M” would mean that you should throw the product away 12 months after you’ve opened it.
Paying attention to expiration dates is especially important for skincare and sun care, because these products typically contain antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients that eventually start to deteriorate, and can harm your skin. Or, as in the case of sunscreen, the product no longer provides the amount of protection that it’s meant to. Sunscreen typically expires after one year. Expired SPF isn’t protecting your skin from UV damage!!
How to know when a product has expired
If the product has changed color, texture or odor from when you purchased it, throw it out!! This is especially true with liquid textures or products packaged in jars, both of which are more prone to contamination than creams or products in pump packaging. Contamination also happens very quickly without preservatives, so be aware of any products labeled “preservative-free.”
The condition in which a product is stored matters, too - Store your products away from air & light, don’t let them sit in your car on a hot day, & keep your fingers / potential contaminants out of the product.
Cheat Sheet for when to toss products
*for when there is no expiration date or PAO*
Mascara (regular or waterproof) and eyeliner: 3 to 6 months (always toss out dry mascara—never add water to extend its life)
Cream, liquid or stick foundations/concealers: 6 months to 1 year
Powder-based products (including blush, bronzer, etc.): 2 to 3 years
Lipstick, gloss and lip pencils: 2 to 3 years
Cleansers: 1 year
Toners: 6 months to 1 year
Chemical exfoliants: 1 year
Facial moisturizers and serums: 6 months to 1 year
Lip balm: 1 year
Replenish your routine
You tossed out all of your old or expired products! Now for the fun part: rebuilding your routine.
Your skincare routine will consist of these 5 steps regardless of which skin type you have. The key ingredients that you look for will be the only things that change, depending on your specific concerns & skin health history.
I've also compiled a list of my favorite products - from skincare to healthcare to beauty, these are my favorite wellness products.
Want help finding the right products for your skin? I'm here for you! Think of me as your Skincare Concierge - a personal shopper for your skin. I take the guesswork out of shopping for skincare!