Do you remember the last time you gave your bathroom cabinet a good clean out? If it's been more than a few months, there's a chance that some of the products may have gone off. While it's hard to part with your favourite moisturiser, abiding by expiration dates is important because cosmetics can trap bacteria, which over time may lead to skin irritation, eye infections and breakouts. Most products have a Period After Opening (PAO) symbol printed on them, which indicates a typical shelf life. But what if you can't find a PAO symbol on your products? Here's all you need to know about make-up expiration dates.
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Find out how long you should be keeping your cosmetics
Moisturisers and serums: 3-12 months
Not only can expired moisturisers become less effective over time, they can also potentially cause irritation. The life of a moisturiser often depends on its packaging – product in a pot can expire in less than six months, whereas an airtight pump product can last 12 months. If you notice a formula starts to separate at all, toss it immediately.
Toners: 12-24 months
Toners can last over 12 months, especially if sealed and kept in a cool place. Discard if you notice any changes in colour or scent.
Natural products: 3-12 months
While natural beauty products are made with pure ingredients from herbs and flowers, it also means that they usually have less preservatives, and may go bad quicker. If you notice any change in scent or appearance, cease use.
Sunscreens: 12 months
Sunscreens are regulated by health watchdogs, but in general, such products tend to be fine to use for 12 months. Be sure to check the expiration date before use, and keep in cool cupboards and away from the sun.
Acne products: 6-12 months
Acne products tend to contain strong ingredients. However, that doesn't mean they don't go off or lose efficacy. Carefully take note of expiry dates and perhaps even use a permanent marker to note the date of opening on the tube. Common acne fighting ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid tend to have a short shelf life.
Deodorants: 36 months
Due to the nature of the formula, deodorants don't tend to go off. However, always check instructions for use, and throw away if you have any concerns about the product. Natural deodorants will have a shorter shelf life.
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