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Shelf Life Of Your Products – Bath Chronicle

We all know that the food in our cupboards and fridges have sell by dates and we usually abide by them. However, not everyone knows that the make-up that we use also have shelf lives.
Each product issued in the UK must have a shelf life symbol on the packaging but shockingly, not many know where to find it. According to a 2013 study by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 70% of the 44 women evaluated have used or are using some type of expired products. Mainly mascaras or eyeshadows.

The PAO icon (period after opening) is on all products sold in Europe and can be identified by the little jar symbol and numbers followed by an ‘M’, i.e 12M, 24M. These are the number of months that a product can be safely used for after opening.

As a general rule, products that contain water have the shortest shelf life. This is because in moist environments the bacteria has a better opportunity to grow than in products that contain no water.


I have compiled a little list of general guidelines for product expiry dates:

Face and Body moisturisers and serums: 6 months to 1 year
Cleansers: 1 year
Toners: 6 months to 1 year
Lip Balms: 1 year
Sample packets of anything: 1 day

Foundations and concealer (not powder): 6 months to 1 year
Mascara: 4 to 6 months
Liquid eyeliner, pencils, gels: 4 to 6 months max. If mascara is dry, chuck it. Do not add water to extend its life.
Lipstick, lip pencils, lipgloss: 2 – 3 years
Powder based products: 2 – 3 years


To help preserve the shelf life of products here is a quick guide of Do’s and Don’ts.

DO tighten the cap after use
DO store products in a cabinet or drawer
DO keep them out of direct sunlight
DO keep note of when you opened the product by writing on them in a sharpie on the container
DO throw away eye products if you have had an eye infection

DON’T buy products packaged in a jar. These have an almost 100% chance of being contaminated by bacteria and dirty hands.
DON’T pump your mascara. This will allow air to seep in and help bacteria grow.
DON’T share your products with others.
DON’T store products in a fridge, unless it is stated on the packaging. Most products are designed to withstand average temperature fluctuations but not long periods in either hot or cold climates. This will reduce their life span.