Do Expiry Dates In Beauty Products Matter?


In terms of beauty and skincare, it is super important to understand exactly what we are putting on our skin, and critically if the product has expired.  

So, how do we know the shelf-life of our favourite beauty products, and why does the expiry date really matter?

On most products, you can find a PAO (period after opening) symbol, which contains the letter ‘m’ (months) and a number before to indicate how many months it should be used for once opened.





Some products may not have this, but should instead display some kind of timespan, e.g Use within 6 months of opening. This is similar to what you can find on food packaging.


As well as taking the expiry date into account, it is also important to store our products in their recommended environments to guarantee optimum care and performance. With most products, it is best to store them in cool, dark, dry environments. Definitely stay clear from bathrooms as they tend to be very humid! It is also best to keep away from sources of heat e.g radiators.


This way our moisturisers and lip-glosses, foundations and eye creams will be prevented from drying up, discolouring or even evaporating; these are all tale-tell signs of when certain products have come to the end of their lifetimes. A couple more clues that could indicate a product has expired is a change in scent or a change in texture/consistency (e.g. oils may become rancid and creams more gloopy). If in doubt, throw it out!

Below are some general guidelines for the lifespan of popular skincare and make-up products, along with a couple of recommendations on how to store them:

Mascara & Liquid Eyeliner

Mascara and liquid eyeliner can last between 3 - 6 months but will then need changing to avoid them drying out. Once mascara loses moisture and colour, it is time for a switch-up. Top tip: never pump mascara as this attracts more air into the tube and dehydrates the product.


Moisturiser & Creams

The lifespans of these products can vary, but in general, they last about 6months - a year. As soon as our moisturisers start to show signs of discolouration or changes in consistency/odour, it is time to throw it out.


Liquid Concealer & Foundation

Any liquid-based concealers or foundations normally keep for 6months - a year. It is important to replace these if they start to dry out, become lumpy or smell different. Keep an eye on their textures to optimise shelf lives!


Lipstick can last anywhere between 1 - 3 years. It is important to note that if you have had a cold sore, it is worth getting rid of your lipstick and replacing it with a brand new one when the cold-sore has cleared up fully. After all, nobody wants a never-leaving cold-sore! When lipstick appears dull and dry it is time to chuck it out. Remember to always store with caps on!

Hair Products

Shampoos, conditioners, styling creams and sprays can last 1 - 2 years. If unopened, they can last up to 3 years. However, if they become irregular in texture or smell,  it might be time to throw them out. Keep them in a cool, dark place when not being used to maximise shelf life.


Perfume typically keeps its scent for 1 - 2 years, if stored out of sunlight in a cool area. Watch out for discolouration or a stale, different scent. If one starts to emerge, I'm afraid your perfume is ready for the bin.

Nail Polish

Nail polish can vary in terms of life span, but it usually keeps in date for 1 - 2 years. Once it starts to become thicker and gloopy, it is time to let it go. Store in the cool and look out for changes in thickness, colour and texture.


Powder-based make-up can last up to 3 years. Minimise the risk of bacteria growing by keeping application brushes clean and never leaving the powder exposed to air. Shut the lids tight! If your powder begins to appear crumbly, time's up!

Eye & Lip Pencils

Pencils have a longer expiry date of up to 3 years. This is because as we sharpen them, a new, fresh layer of eye or lip liner is revealed. This action actually removes any bacterial growth on the top layer. Make sure to keep them sealed with their caps on and always use a clean sharpener.


But why is it so important to know the lifespan of a skincare product?

The older skincare products get, the less effective they become in their role. The chemical ‘make-up’ of the ingredients starts to break down, meaning preservatives wear down and allow bacteria to form. This is when it becomes harmful to our skin.


Expired beauty products can leave skin in several different negative states: itchy, irritated rashes, flaky and dried out, with flare-ups of redness or acne, developing sties and eye or skin infections. The best way to prevent these states is to store products in their correct conditions and check in on their use-by dates frequently. Nobody wants to use old, ineffective, irritating products on their sensitive skin because frankly, using nothing at all is better than that!


Every brand and product featured on Carolina GMX make our editorial pages once a minimum of 70% of our sensitive-skin testers consider it worthy!

If you are interested in checking out some of our other sensitive skin posts you can find the latest here.


WHERE — London


THOUGHTS BY— Cordelia Aspinall

EDITED BY— Gabriela Godinho-Moxon




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Cordelia Aspinall
Cordelia Aspinall

Cordelia is a Bristol University Spanish Graduate living in London. She is totally obsessed with living a healthy, happy lifestyle and cannot live without her Nivea pearly shine lip balm and Aveeno body lotion.


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