Unlike foods, drinks, and other regulated over-the-counter drugs, did you know that most beauty products don’t have a label with a sell-by-date expiration? Instead, they get stamped with a PAO (period after opening) logo, which tells you how many months a product may be used after opening before it expires. 

Still, even with the PAO symbol clearly listed, many of us fail to pay attention to it (I know I’ve been guilty of it), causing us to use products that are not only ineffective, but also detrimental to our personal well-being. Your skin, for instance, may become negatively impacted when you use expired cosmetics. From eye infections to skin rashes, the expired chemicals in these types of products harbor hazardous bacteria that can be dangerous when exposed to the skin. 

Although the expiration dates of cosmetics will be dependent on the variation and formula of the particular items, there are a couple of general guidelines you can follow to determine the lifespan of your products. 

Here are five tell-tale signs your products may be expired:


A separation of the formula is a clear indication that it has experienced bacterial growth and does not serve to function the way it once did. This is common in skincare products that come in the form of a liquid or a cream as they’re generally made up of different oils, chemicals, and other active ingredients like retinol and hyaluronic acid. This combination tends to make these products sensitive to oxygen, moisture, heat, and humidity. 

In the interest of your skin, it’s critical to be considerate of where you store certain supplies. If you choose to use an anti-aging cream containing retinol, for instance, it’s a good idea to store it in a cool, dry, dark area. By keeping out excess of light and heat, you’ll be able to discourage bacterial development and, ultimately, preserve the shelf-life of your products. 


When your products have shifted away from their original color and oxidized into something entirely different, it’s probably time to toss it. Regardless if it appears to work the same way as it always has, the alteration indicates that the product has become infested with bacteria that could cause your skin to redden, become infected, or experience an allergic reaction.

To prolong the lifespan of your products and prevent discoloration, it’s a good idea to wash your makeup brushes regularly. Between the oils from your skin, dead skin cells, and old makeup, your products and complexion are prone to bacteria. As reported by the American Academy of Dermatology, most dermatologists recommend washing your brushes every seven to ten days, contingent with how often you apply makeup. 


We all know that the texture of a product plays a vital role in its usefulness and functionality. In other words, when your supposed-to-be creamy products begin to feel stiff, apply unevenly, and/or have a weakened pigment, a difference in texture has occurred. When this happens, the product has more than likely expired.

Similar to the way you’d prevent separation of formula, keep the texture of your products intact by storing them in a cooler, more shadowed area. Don’t forget to tighten and secure the caps of your products after using them, as products are relatively unstable if left exposed to oxygen.


According to Allure, when a beauty product expires, it’ll sometimes develop an off-putting smell. Mascaras, for instance, will establish a gasoline-like odor, while lipsticks (made of different oils) will begin to reek of stale cooking oil. Continuous use of these products not only leaves you stinky but also increases the risk of breakouts and other serious skin infections. 

To ensure no foul smells pollute your fragranced products, leave them stored in their original package. It may seem irrelevant when you first buy it, but the packaging it’s stored in is actually designed to protect the aroma of the fragrance, making for a longer-lasting lifespan. So, while a closet or a dark cupboard can work as a practical alternative, it isn’t as effective in preserving scent stamina. 


Our beauty products are bound to have a change in consistency over time. But, when you’ve noticed that your eye cream, mascara, liquid eyeliner has become dry and clumpy, you know it’s past its prime and should be thrown out. 

Since these products are applied close to your eyelid, it’s essential that you’re extra careful when inspecting the condition and expiration date of these products. Constantly transferring the bacteria to and from your eyes and cosmetics is an easy way to get an eye infection or cause irritation. For this reason, try to replace them every two to four months and never share eye products with other people.

We hope these tips help you navigate your beauty and makeup routine. Which sign are you most surprised of?


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