Remember that bottle of toner that’s been on your skincare shelf for…you lost track of how long it’s been? If you have a full skincare shelf, then odds are, keeping track of every product’s expiration or PAO (period after opening) date is a struggle. So the real question is, how do you know if your skincare is expired? Let Picky Expert and dermatologist Dr. Claudia (@funskincare) break it down for you so you don’t ever have to risk that precious skin!
Ever seen that small little open jar symbol on the back of your skincare product label? That’s the PAO! Otherwise known as the “Period After Opening” date and symbolizes how long a product’s shelf life is after the point you open or unseal it. The letter M stands for month and helps to show consumers the amount of time (in months) can pass and product’s safety can be guaranteed.
For example, if your product shows the open jar symbol with 24M inside, then that means you can use this skincare product for 24 months after you first open it with a guaranteed safety from the manufacturer. Using it beyond that point doesn’t necessarily mean it’s volatile, but safety and peak efficiency can’t be guaranteed!
The PAO of your skincare products may vary based on their type, formulation, and packaging. A product that comes in pump lasts longer than those that come in jar or dropper because it is less exposed to air.
Curious to learn more about PAO and what the difference is with expiration date? Check out our deep dive with Experts here!
Expert Tip – Best way to keep track of when a product has passed its prime is WRITE DOWN the date you open the product! These days many products have a space on the label to jot it down, or just add your own little sticker or write straight on the product. Keeping track helps ease any future guessing games!
Signs that your skincare product might be expired
If you’re really not sure whether a product has expired, you can check to see if any of these points apply!
- Smells strange
- Texture change
- Feels different on the skin
What happens if you use expired skincare?
Okay, you accidentally used some expired skincare, what’s the worst that could happen? Here are some issues that can occur if you dip into a product past its prime.
- Lose Effectiveness: Active ingredients won’t perform as optimally. This can result in extreme skin sensitivity to sun exposure!
- Less Protection: Expired SPF and sunscreens might cause red, sore, sunburned skin. This is due to your skin being more exposed to harmful free radicals.
- Exposing your skin to unwanted microbe contamination which can lead to irritation, break out, rashes, blemishes, skin and/or eye infection!
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