When does a beauty product expire?

Question:  Last year I bought a spendy   night cream that I only use when my skin is very dry.  How long can it be safe and effective?

Answer:  Great question! Researching this question certainly opened my eyes and resulted  in a major clean-out of my  beauty arsenal.  Turns out that  there are two different time frames to consider:

(1) How long will a product last unopened ?

(2) How long can you use a skin/hair care product  after it is opened?

Most experts feel  that, in general, an unopened product will stay usable up to three years ( 36 months)   after manufacture before it expires.  But once its opened, different types of beauty aids  have varying lifespans.   Where it used and  whats in the formula  have a big impact on longevity. Water based formulations  have a shorter shelf life that those that are oil based.  In addition, products used around the eyes like   eye creams and sunscreens, mascara, and eye shadows  have a significanly shortened lifespan.

Beauty Product Time Table ( after they are opened)

*Concealer- Up to 12 months

*Powder- 24 months

*Cleansers- 12 months

*Liquid Eyeliners- 3 months

*Cream eyeshadows- 6  months

*Pencil eyeliners-  6-8 months

*Powder eye shadows- 24 months

*Mascara – 3 months

*Water-based foundation – 6 months

*Oil-based foundation – 18 months

*Cake foundations- 24 months

*Lip liner -up to 3 years

*Lipstick- 1-2 years

*Nail Polish – up to 12 months

* Sunscreen- 12 months ( but not more than one season)

*Moisturizer- 6-24 months

* Serum- 6-24 months

* Body lotion- Up to 24 months

* Hand cream- Up to 24  months

* Treatment product- 24  months

* Perfumes – up to 36 months

* Skin toners- Up to 12 months

* Natural/Organic products without preservatives – 6 months

After opening,  the lifespan of most  products  can vary from 12-24 months.  Fortunately  many  products are  marked with the open jar symbol  with a number that indicates open jar  safety.  The logo at the left  shows a lifespan of 24 months.   If you want to be sure  a new product is fresh and safe when you buy it, you can use the batch code or lot number  on a package. Then go to Cosmetic Calculator and  and enter  the number as directed.  This will tell you the manufacture date.

To keep your products fresh and  effective you should:

 * Keep them in a cool dry place like a linen closet.  The warm moist  climate in a bathroom is the worst place to strore beauty products.

* Try not to stick fingers in a jar.  To avoid introducing  yeast and mold, use a cotton swab to take out what you need.

* If a product seems to smell funny, separate or change color, throw it out even if the calendar  says its still safe and effective.

* Stick a little label on each product with the date you opened it.  Others have suggeted keeping a cosmetic log  book.  Each time you buy a product, note the name, date of purchase and whenyou opened it.  That’s a little OCD to me, so I will stick to labels and a pen.

8 thoughts on “When does a beauty product expire?

      • That is annoying. Maybe the best thing to do is to use multipurpose products so we have less then have less expire. We’d be more apt to use it up I think.

  1. This is great information. I only have one problem…eye and lips pencils that can be sharpened, would last longer than six months if you do sharpen them. Why the short life span?


    • Anything used around the eyes has a shorter lifespan. Even if sharpened they can build up higher levels of bacteria, mold and yeast than the eye area can handle. This is one of the reasns that eye creams are packed in such tiny containers.

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