A Quick Guide to Reading Beauty-Product Expiration Labels — So You Know Exactly What to Toss


If you’re rationing your favorite lipstick or face cream to make it last as long as humanly possible, we get you — but we also have some bad news to share. Just like the milk or eggs in your refrigerator, beauty products have expiration dates. And when those expiration dates have passed, they should be tossed or recycled accordingly. You might be thinking, “But does it really matter if I keep using them?” The answer is yes.

How to Read Your e.l.f. Cosmetics Product Expiration Labels

According to Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist, a formula’s preservatives may no longer be as effective after its expiration date, therefore the product may increase the chances of issues like breakouts, skin irritation, sensitivity, or infection. Of course, if you are dealing with these skin issues, a visit to a dermatologist may be helpful in identifying the root cause.

Dr. Garshick also noted that your formula itself may not be as effective past an expiration date. Basically, you may not get the results you want if you continue using it.

Many products don’t have an exact day-month-year date stamped on the packaging or bottle though, which can make things slightly difficult.

Some beauty products may list the month and year it expires on the packaging or actual vessel (for example, 8/2022), but most utilize little symbols on the back or bottom of the packaging or on the container itself. These symbols usually look like an opened container or tub and have numbers inside of them. These numbers indicate how long the product is good for after it’s been opened. For example, a symbol with “12M” inside means it’s good for a year, or 12 months, after it’s been opened.

Dr. Garshick said it’s helpful to note when you opened or purchased a product. Our suggestion? Keep a beauty shopping journal to jot down purchase and open dates.

The products in your personal kit don’t all have the same shelf life either. When it comes to skin care, Dr. Garshick said that it’s generally best to toss a product if the texture or color has changed. “This can vary among the different skin-care products, as the general expected duration of different skin-care products varies.”

Sunscreen should be replaced annually and, of course, as soon as the tube runs dry. (For the record, Dr. Garshick noted that if you are actually using enough sunscreen, you will likely run out before that year mark.)

As for makeup? Dr. Garshick said that products like foundation, concealer, eyeshadow, and blush are generally recommended to be replaced on a yearly basis.

Again, most beauty brands provide shoppers some info on when products are considered expired.

With all that being said, there’s a chance you might be in the market for a few new skin-care or makeup products. Keep scrolling for three POPSUGAR favorites.

You should always have a fresh face cream in stock. While lightweight in texture, the e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Face Cream ($12) delivers big-time moisture via squalane and hyaluronic acid. It’s enhanced with peptides to promote collagen production and niacinamide to even out skin tone.

Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.