How to read expiration date on skincare products?

We usually never use eggs or other dairy products that have passed their expiration date but some of us may not apply this rule when it comes to taking care of our skin and our skincare products.

In United States The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not make it mandatory for cosmetic manufacturers to include an expiration date on their products. The only items that the FDA requires to have an expiration date are products available over the counters such as sunscreen products and acne products.  We have a great article about sunscreen expiration date which you can refer to.

In Europe the Period After Opening (PAO)  was introduced for skincare and cosmetic products in 2005 by the European Commission, which made it mandatory for products that have 30 months or more shelf life to use the  PAO symbol. Those products that have a shelf life of less than 30 months must put the minimum shelf life or best before date on their products.

But in general, many skincare manufacturers do include an expiration date even though it is not required. The expiration dates on skincare products can be symbolised by an open jar and a letter M to show how long you can use the products after they been opened.

There are other methods you can use to find out the expiry date for your skincare products if they do not have one put on them by the manufacturers. Skincare manufacturers are required to add a batch number on their products. If there is no expiration date on your products you can find the batch number and contact  the manufacturer to find out when is the expiry date of that product.

There are also the more traditional ways you can use to find out if products have expired such as using your senses. If your skincare products have changed colour, smell bad or have started to decompose it means its time to throw them away!

Looking deeper into what it means when a product is actually expired it depends on the products. For example, for products available over the counter such as acne and sunscreen products the expiration date indicates the active ingredients have lost their effectivity. So, if you are using a sunscreen product that has gone passed its expiration date you are risking exposing your skin to harmful UV rays.

Decomposition of active ingredients is not only limited to over-the-counter products like sunscreen and acne products. Products that have ingredients such as vitamin C and Retinol are also likely to become unstable when passed their expiry date.

By following the above guidelines, you should be able to  clearly distinguish between products that are expired and those that are not and maintain a healthy and beautiful skin.

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