If you’re anything like me, you have random makeup products stashed everywhere! In our purses, in cabinets. Heck, I even have an entire separate makeup bag FILLED with cosmetics that I love, but that seem “too old” to wear anymore.

Lucky for us, there is something called the Product After Opening symbol, or PAO. It looks like this placed on your product: 12M

The number on the symbol reflects how long your product will be good to use after opening.

But why is it important not to use our old makeup? Because it can change texture and become sticky or oily. Or it can change the smell or color. And let’s be honest, it’s hard enough to find a product that suits us, and nobody wants to go out accidentally looking like a clown!

Over time bacteria builds up in them and in worst cases, it can cause allergic reactions, infections, skin irritation, acne or dermatitis.

To help prevent any nasty afflictions, be sure to regularly clean your makeup sponges and brushes using warm water and mild soap (think baby soap.) There are also cleaners that you can buy that are made especially for cleaning brushes.

As a rule of thumb, I follow these guidelines for makeup expiration, provided by checkcosmetic.net:

  • Perfumes – up to 3 years
  • Powders (including blush, eyeshadows powdery texture) – 1 to 3 years
  • Foundation in a jar or a cream powder – 1 to 3 years
  • Liquid tone means (in tubes or jars with dispenser) – 1 year
  • Nail polish – 1 year
  • Sun cosmetics – 1 year (but no more than one season)
  • Lipsticklip gloss – 1 year
  • Pencil (Eye, Lip) – about 1 year
  • Skin care products (hydrating cosmetics, wrinkle, eye contour) in a sealed packet with the pump – about a year, in a jar – from 6 to 10 months
  • Solid eyeliner and eyebrow pencil – 6 to 8 months
  • Bronzing – 6 months
  • Mascara – 3 to 6 months
  • Liquid eyeliner – 3 to 4 months
  • Natural/Organic products – up to 6 months

Moral of the story, use it or lose it. We spend lots of our hard earned money on our cosmetics, so it’s best that we use them up before they go bad.

One final tip: Store your beauty products somewhere cool and dry. Heat can quickly deteriorate our cosmetics. Creams and lotions will last longest if stored in the fridge.