Lifespan Lessons: Determining a Product's Shelf Life

Are your skincare products still good? // Photo credit: Tinatin1/iStock/Getty Images Plus

As with any skincare product, it’s always important to use mineral-based products according to their expiration date. “These dates are often ‘best to use by’ dates, however, it is generally not safe to use anything way beyond expiration,” says Ilike Organic Skin Care’s Szilvia Hickman. Have a backlog of product that you're not sure if you can still use? Don't worry, here are some suggestions on how to recognize if a mineral-based product has gone bad:

  • Take note of when the product was opened. “A good rule of thumb, particularly with mineral-based sunscreens, is to use them or replace them within a year’s time," says Shannon Esau, director of sales and education at Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals. "Ingredients lose their effectiveness over time, and you don’t want to leave the protection of your clients’ skin up to chance.”
  • Pay attention to the look, feel, and smell of the product. “If something smells amiss, it usually is," says Hickman. "If everything smells right, check the texture. Expired skincare products may clump or become runny. If it feels different than it did upon opening, it is time to toss it out.” 
  • Store in cool or room temperature to keep it from going bad, and always pay attention to packaging, as labels will often describe proper storage conditions. Some organic skincare products might need to be refrigerated, though most will not.
  • Look for the PAO symbol. PAO, or the period after opening, are located on certain beauty products noted by a jar symbol with a number after it – the number indicated how many months the product should be good for after opening.


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