The Crunchy Cookie

Equal parts deliciousness and hippiness

Now it’s time for a feature I like to call “Who knew?”, basically a collection of little nuggets of knowledge that make me go “huh”.

First up, have you ever noticed that little icon on your cosmetics that looks like this?

Expiration Date

I had, but never really gave it much thought.  In my mind, it had something to do with a European labeling system of the number of grams in the product or whatever.  If you had asked me “Sarah, what does this mean?”, I would have said “I think it has something to do with Europe.”  Seriously.

Well, now I know better.  The symbol is known as the Product After Opening (PAO) symbol and it tells you the expected lifetime of the product after you open it.  In the image on the left, “12 M” (sometimes written simply as “12″) refers to the twelve months a product should be good after you open it.  Of course, shelf life can also depend on how the product is stored and how you use it.  For example, a cosmetic will probably not last that long if you store it in direct sunlight and apply it with your fingers, which can spread bacteria and encourage their growth.

Also, I would like to point out that unless you’re buying your cosmetics in gallon tubs, any product that’s working for you shouldn’t last all that long because you’re using it up.  Don’t be afraid to get rid of things that don’t work well and don’t keep anything that has developed a strange odor.

If you’re interested, here’s a recap of the general guidelines for different cosmetics:

Foundation: 3-6 months (be sure to apply with a brush or sponge to avoid bacterial contamination)
Mineral makeup: 6 months (these often don’t contain the same preservatives as traditional makeup so they don’t last as long)
Concealer: 6 months (see note for foundation)
Stick Concealer: 12 months (use a cotton ball to remove a layer every so often to get rid of bacteria on the surface of the stick)
Powder/Blush: 12-24 months
Lipgloss/Lipstick: 12-18 months
Mascara: 3-6 months
(be sure to toss if you develop an eye infection, and don’t pump)
Eye Cream: 6 months
Eye pencils: 12-24 months
(sharpen often)
Eye Shadow: 12-24 months

Also, it’s recommended to clean your brushes and applicators every week.  I don’t do it that often, but it’s something to shoot for.


Facebook comments:

  1. Wow, what short lives these expensive products have! Mmmm, 12M! I will throw out lipsticks with no problem because I’ve gathered too many (with each lipstick, I am always surprised to find out when I get home that I have purchased yet another lipstick of the exact same color). I think it is time to empty my drawer…

  2. Sarah
    11:29 pm on July 8th, 2010

    Hi Rachel,

    I’m the same way! I always want to buy the same color of lipstick time and time again. I also seem to be drawn to the same heather grey t-shirts, but that’s another story! It’s always a good idea to review one’s cosmetics drawers frequently. You may even want to think about setting a calendar reminder for yourself or marking the cosmetics themselves with the date you bought them to facilitate the process. Good luck!