Do beauty products have a shelf life?

Beauty products


If you’re anything like us, you’ll be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to beauty products. Bathroom cabinets, dressing table, even in boxes under the bed: we’re never short of treats to stash. But do beauty products have a ‘best before’ date? And are there any items you should be waving goodbye to? Let’s investigate…

1: Check the expiration date

Yep, even beauty products can have these. If it’s a glass jar, you may find the date printed on the base. Otherwise, just give your product a once-over to see if you can spot the ‘best before’ elsewhere.

2: Find the PAO code

While many products may not have an expiration date, they’re likely to have a PAO – that’s ‘period after opening’. You’ll probably have spotted this before, perhaps without knowing what it meant. This subtle little logo is found on the back or base of the product, and it looks like an illustration of a little pot with the lid lifted. On the pot, you’ll see a number followed by an ‘M’ or ‘Y’ – this indicates the number of months (or years) you should keep the opened product before throwing it away. Handy, right?

3: Track down the batch code

If your beauty product has managed to avoid having both a ‘best before’ and a PAO, there’s still a way to find out how long your product should be kept for. Take a look at the batch code: this is a series of printed or etched numbers somewhere on the container. Input this code into the website below, and it should be able to estimate the expiration date for you:

Just need a rough estimate instead? There are some useful rules of thumb for different products: think three to six months for mascara, one to two years for liquid or cream and around three years for powder products. These estimates vary depending on how often you use them – extend your makeup’s shelf life a little by always sanitising your makeup after sharing it and wash your brushes regularly.

Take a look at our beauty blog for more tips, tricks and insights. Stay in touch with Lifetime on social on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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