how to know makeup is expired - expiration icon

Do You Know What This Icon on Your Beauty Product Means?

I assume every woman is familiar with this icon especially those who consider themselves makeup junkies. But do you know what it means? I admit for many years, I had no freakin’ idea what does that icon mean. At first, I thought it’s an indication of the weight of the product or something about the packaging. I even asked my father who’s an engineer what does the “M” stands for. And no, it’s not some metric system.

When you buy cosmetic products I bet you never bother to check the manufacturing date. Or you only check it when you feel like you own it for quite a long time already. And I also bet you assume that those dates typed on your product were expiration date rather than manufacturing date. So you’ll have this horrifying revelation that you’ve been using an “expired product” because the date says “2015” and it’s already 2016. But you’re maybe not using an expired product yet. So stay calm and learn how to know makeup is expired.

how to know makeup is expired - expiration icon

Why does it say “2015” – it’s already 2016! Is this expired?

You might be looking at a manufacturing date instead of an expiration date. Cosmetic companies like to put manufacturing dates so consumers know they are getting a fresh product. But wait, isn’t that what an expiration date is for? This is where things will get a little confusing, but bear with me.

Some cosmetic products put both the manufacturing and expiration dates of their products, which indicates the shelf life of the product. You can read more about it here. On food, for example, a jar of peanut butter, the expiration date on a jar of peanut butter is the last day the product can be consumed. You wouldn’t want to buy a product that is super close to the expiration date because you’ll have less time to store it, you must eat it immediately. But that’s not the same with beauty products.

On beauty products, the expiration date is the last day the product can be distributed by the seller. It’s only referring to the shelf life. But when you open it, this where these icons called “Period After Opening (PAO)” becomes useful.

how to know makeup is expired - expiration icon

Once you open a product, it will start to oxidize and be exposed to bacteria, so don’t open them and think you have until the expiration date to use them. If you see these little icons on your product, this indicates the amount of time it is suggested to use up the product by after opening, with the 6M representing “six months” while 12M for “twelve months” and so on.

My product only have an icon, it doesn’t have a manufacturing date nor expiration date. How to know makeup is expired?

Here’s another problem. The majority of the products it the market doesn’t have a manufacturing date nor expiration date so you really have to rely on the jar icons just like in Peri Tint and Kylie Lip Kit.

So when you bought a product that both don’t have a manufacturing and expiration dates, make sure you follow what’s indicated on the little jar icon. Using expired products or products that have been open for too long is potentially harmful to your skin because it’s had time to change chemically and even take on other parasites that can cause your skin problems like irritation and breakouts.

If you’re unsure of the manufacturing/expiration date because you can’t remember when you opened it or the date is smudged, a general rule of thumb to follow can be 3 years from the manufacturing date if unopened and 1-2 years after opening. Of course, if the product starts to have discoloration, develop a smell, or cause any unusual sensations upon application, that’s a good sign to throw it to the trash. The chart below can be your guide to the shelf life of your beauty products.

expiration manufacturing graphs

Tips to Keep Your Products Safe and Clean

  1. Keep products in a cool, dry place that is not in direct sunlight.
  2. Use and clean the little spatulas that come with your products OR switch to using q-tips to scoop out your product.
  3. Use a sharpie to write the date opened and the good-til date on your product lid or side.
  4. Only open a new product if you plan on using it because otherwise, you’ll start the oxidization process too soon.

Did I just make you re-evaluate how long some of those products have been sitting on your shelves?