Your Questions Answered: What You Need to Know About Makeup Expiration Dates

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Tempted to use your makeup even when it has already reached pass its expiration date? You shouldn’t.

The PAO (Period After Opening) symbols on the labels of cosmetics serve as guides to keep you free from skin irritation, breakouts and infections as a result of the bacteria trapped in cosmetics. You need to abide by makeup expiration dates even if throwing your favorite lipstick is totally against your will.

As a rule, the more moisturized a product is, the shorter its shelf life. There are also giveaways that tell when its time to ditch your favorite cosmetics.

Want to know more?

Here’s an infographic that will take away the guesswork when judging how long you can use your favorite cosmetics.

Makeup Expiration Dates Explained

Makeup Expiration Dates Explained

Cosmetics can trap bacteria which may be transferred to your skin especially when they’re used longer than their ideal shelf life. Even when you think your lipstick or cream blush is still worth keeping, you have to stick with what’s stated on the use-by-date symbols of your cosmetics.


PAO Symbol

The “period after opening” (POA) represents the time in months when the product will remain in good condition after the product has been opened for the first time.

This is a requirement in Europe. Although not required in the US, you can also find this symbol on some cosmetics products in the country.

Egg Timer Symbol

This symbol is followed by the ‘Best Before Date’ that has to be present in products with a lifespan of less than 30 months. Adding this symbol on cosmetics is also a requirement in Europe.

15 Commonly Used Cosmetics and their Expiration Dates

1. Foundation

Shelf Life: 6M to 12M

Maintain a germ-free foundation longer. When applying, slowly drip liquid foundation onto the back of your hand to keep your fingers off the neck of the bottle when applying.

TIP: It’s time to toss your foundation once you notice that it’s starting to separate.

2. Concealer

Shelf Life: 12M

Take note of changes in your concealer. You want a smooth, silky and blendable concealer. You can expect this from a concealer with oils and hydrating agents that are still intact. Once you see signs of drying, texture changes, or a different smell, it’s time to ditch your concealer!

3. Brow Pencil and Kohl Eyeliner

Shelf Life: 12M to 24M

One of the last things that you’d think of throwing away are your brow pencils and eyeliners. However, without proper handling and care, they may not work as great as they’re supposed to do.

DO keep the cap on in between uses. Sharpen the pencil to eliminate bacteria that may be present.

DON’T store your brow pencil in steamy rooms to help extend their life.

4. Gel Eyeliner

Shelf Life: 2M

Unlike your ever dependable brow pencil, gel eyeliner has a shorter shelf life. A jar of gel eyeliner has to be used up for a few months only as it easily harbors germs and can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

5. Liquid Eyeliner

Shelf Life: 3M to 4M

Is it your habit to keep your liquid eyeliner in your bag? Beware. Even if you want to use them as long as possible, you need to ditch them by the 3rd or 4th month. Liquid eyeliner can easily trap germs that you wouldn’t want to bring near your face!

6. Mascara

Shelf Life: 3M

As with your liquid eyeliner, your mascara has to be replaced regularly, too. By the 3rd month, you’ll notice differences in its consistency. It may already look clumpy or even come with an unusual scent.

DO replace your mascara regularly to avoid eye infection.

DON’T share your mascara with others for hygienic reasons.

7. Eye Shadow

Shelf Life: 3M to 6M

Powder eyeshadow fortunately has a long shelf life similar to powder blushes. However, it is not ideal to use them until 2 years since they are intended to be applied around your eyes which is a sensitive area.

8. Blush and Powder

Shelf Life: 24M

If you’re after longevity of beauty products, you’ll be impressed with the shelf life of a blush and powder. These cosmetics last long and their formulas don’t change for up to two years.

9. Cream Blush / Cheek & Lip Tint

Shelf Life: 12M to 18M

Multiple sticks or the makeup products that can be used for your cheeks and lips are some of the best buys. Aside from their multi-uses, they can also last for a year or two!

TIP: Since these makeup require the use of hands for application, you need to make sure that your hands are always clean to keep the formula free of germs.

10. Lipstick, Liner, and Gloss

Shelf Life: 12M

Are you one of the people who only ditch out their lipsticks until they’re all consumed? Though it seems like the ideal thing to do, you should get rid of them after a year.  You can prolong the shelf life of your favorite lipstick by storing it in a cool, dry place.

11. Nail Polish

Shelf Life: 12M to 24M

One of the cosmetics that can give you the best value for your money is nail polish. You can use it up to two years with proper storage.

DO keep your nail polish in an upright position to keep it from separating.

DON’T expose nail polish to heat and direct sunlight to preserve its color and ideal condition.

12. Micellar Water

Shelf Life: 6M

With water mostly making up the ingredients in micellar water, you need to be aware that it can easily facilitate bacterial growth and contamination. Use it for no more than 6 months.

13. Cleanser

Shelf Life: 12M

Cleansers may be used for up to one year. However, it still pays to check labels. Also, look for signs of expiration which may be evident through distorted packaging or product discoloration.

14. Toner

Shelf Life: 6M to 12M

Thanks to the added ingredients commonly used in toners, its shelf life extends from 6 months to 1 year even if it’s water based like micellar water.

TIP: Use good judgement when using toner. Take note of changes in color, smell or consistency to know when it’s already time to ditch it.

15. Moisturizer

Shelf Life: 12M

Moisturizers have a shelf life of one year. However if you’re using natural and ‘preservative-free’ products, you have to take note that it could have a shorter life span as it is more prone to bacterial contamination.


Natural and preservative-free cosmetics usually have a shorter shelf life ranging from 3 to 6 months.

ALSO READ: The Fool-Proof Guide to Using Organic Beauty Products

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Time to ditch your favorite makeup and need to find great replacements? Check out our shelves to find natural and organic beauty products from the most trusted beauty brands.