Is It Time to Get Rid of Your Makeup?

Makeup can be expensive. That is why you might have second thoughts before tossing it into the trash bin. In case you don’t know, Korean skincare and similar makeup products all have expiry dates. All consumer products have expiry dates that we should take note of. Consuming or using an expired product can cause adverse effects on our health.

A lot of people do not realize the impact or consequences of using expired makeup. A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science revealed that around 70 percent of women used at least one kind of expired makeup. While it might seem harmless as long as it does the job anyway, the same study also found that almost 70 percent of expired eye makeup was contaminated.

Unfortunately, not all beauty products have expiry dates. On one hand, over-the-counter products, including skincare and makeup products, should have expiry dates printed on the packaging. However, some products do not have expiration dates included in the packaging, so it’s up to you to find out whether the product is already expired.

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How to spot an expired skincare product

Aside from imprinted expiration dates, there are other ways to tell if a skincare or makeup product is already expired.

  1. Check the packaging.

Okay, so there is no official expiration date indicated on the packaging. If there is none, look for the PAO symbol. PAO stands for Period After Opening, which includes a number followed by an open jar icon and the letter M.

The PAO symbol usually indicates how many months the products can be used after opening it. For example, seeing a “12M” suggests that it’s time to throw away the product 12 months or a year after opening it.

However, you might forget when you first opened the product. In such cases, you can write the date when you first opened the product. Here are other signs that a skincare product is already expired:

  • A change in color


  • A weird or foul-smelling odor


  • An odd texture when put onto the skin (ex. feels grainy or dry unlike before)


  • Labeled as “preservative-free.” Although the product is organic, it might have a short shelf life.

The standard shelf life of conventional beauty and skincare products

As a guide, here are some of the most popular skincare products and their usual expiration period.

  • Lip products (lipstick, lip gloss, lip pencils): up to 3 years


  • Lip balm: up to a year


  • Bronzers, blush, and other powder-based skincare products: up to 3 years


  • Concealers and foundations: up to a year


  • Eyeliner and mascara: up to 6 months. Never add water to dried-up mascaras.


  • Body and facial moisturizers: up to a year


  • Toners and cleansers: up to a year


  • Exfoliants: up to a year

In the end, while you might feel bad about getting rid of your old makeup, remember that doing so is better than suffering the consequences of using expired products. If you feel unsure about the expiration dates of your beauty products, consult an expert immediately.

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