How to tell…
By Gisela Perda
Do you know what that little jar icon on the back of your beauty product means?
It’s the “Period-After-Opening” (PAO) symbol, which tells the useful lifetime of your cosmetic product once you have opened it for the first time. It depicts an open cosmetic pot with a written number of months or years. For example, this particular product should be ideally used up within 24 months after it is first opened.
Using expired makeup and skin care products can lead to infections, allergic reactions, breakouts, and skin discoloration.
As a general rule, moisturizers, serums and foundations have a lifetime of 6 to 12 months. In fact, a product that contains water as one of its main ingredients has the shortest PAO because they tend to develop bacteria. Powders, on the other hand, have a longer lifetime because nothing may grow in them. However, this is a European legislation and it might be “tricky” as some other factors may alter a product’s PAO such as its exposure to sunlight, bacteria, and changes in temperature.
Your PAO Cheat Sheet
Mascara = 2 to 3 months
Liquid foundation and concealer = 6 to 12 months
Lipstick = 2 years
Lipgloss = 1 year
Nail polish = 1 to 2 years
Powder products = 2 years
Fragrances = 8 to 10 years
Lotion = 2 years
If a product presents signs of discoloration, or if it smells strange, has separated, feels different on the skin or its packaging has expanded, it’s time to throw it away.
When in doubt, throw it out!
About the Author Gisela Pereda is a MUD New York Graduate Make-up Artist.