Harry and Meghan were dead right to walk away

Amanda Cassidy

#IWD21: Maryam Paruk set up a small business to recognise Ireland’s cultural diversity

Dominique McMullan

5 Irish women who have managed their businesses with agility, creativity and fortitude this past...

Melanie Morris

Lynn Enright: ‘With spring’s arrival, I’m finally ready to go back to real clothes’

Lynn Enright

Is marketplace feminism stealing the limelight from real female-driven issues?

Amanda Cassidy

Women-led charities and social enterprises to support this IWD and beyond

Amanda Kavanagh

‘The industry is on its knees’: Wedding planners call for more clarity and support from...

Jennifer McShane

#IWD21: Therese Wright’s wellness doll takes children’s worries

Dominique McMullan

IWD: 8 Irish women in the beauty business on what their biggest failure taught them

Holly O'Neill

Image / Beauty

How I learned the hard way about monitoring beauty use-by dates

by Aisling Keenan
15th Jan 2020

Keeping to the beauty use-by date might not be your top concern, but I found out the hard way that I should pay attention to when my skincare is out of date.

The very last thing you want to put directly on to your skin is bacteria, right? Of course. You’d never wipe your kitchen cloth on your face directly after you cleaned your counters, but using out of date beauty products could be as detrimental to your skin.

But of course, being the completely non-organised person I am, I found that out the hard way. I recently used a long, long out of date mascara primer on my eyes. It smelled okay, it looked okay, I couldn’t remember when I got it.

I applied it and moments later my eyes were streaming. Minutes later they were stinging, and after six or seven face washes, a bottle of eye drops and a cold compress, my eyes started to calm down. My eye make-up, however, never recovered and I was exceptionally late to the place I was going.

Beauty use-by dates are important

On every perishable beauty product you buy, there’ll be a PAO (period after opening) symbol, which is basically a little jar with ‘3m’ ‘6m’ or ’12m’ in it. Occasionally there’ll be a higher number. These are the guidelines for how long you should use it after opening, so three, six or 12 months.

beauty use-by

I never, ever keep track of how long something has been opened, so what I’ve taken to doing since eye-gate, and particularly with skincare, is when I open it, I stick a label and write the last date it should be used on it. If I open a 6-month use product on January 1, I’ll put July 1 on it, to remind me I should stop using it then.

Expiry date guide

What are the expiries on your most common beauty products? Here’s a non-exhaustive list, and these are best estimations. As a general rule, anything that has dried up or gone smelly, discoloured or crusty should absolutely not be used, regardless of the date.

    • Cleanser, toner and moisturiser = 12 months
    • Micellar water = 6 months
    • Cream eyeshadow = 6 months
    • Powder eyeshadow = 24 months
    • Liquid foundation and concealer = 12 months
    • Powder foundation = 24 months
    • Liquid eyeliner = 6 months
    • Powder blushes and powders = 24 months
    • Brow pencil (if regularly pared) = 24 months
    • Mascara = 3 to 6 months max
    • Eyeliner pencil = 12 months
    • Lipstick = 24 months
    • Perfume = up to 10 years
    • Nail polish = 24 months

Photography by Unsplash.

Read more: Getting your make-up stash organised for 2019

Read more: Bobbi Brown’s new beauty ingestibles have landed in Ireland

Read more: Five ways to Marie Kondo your beauty collection

Also Read

The best morning masks to start the day off right

By Holly O'Neill

Elle Fanning
How to recreate Elle Fanning’s glowing skin from the Golden Globes

The heroes behind Elle Fanning's gleaming skin - huzzah!

By Holly O'Neill

eyebrow tattoo
Marie Kelly always hated her brows. Until she had them tattooed.

Beauty ingenue Marie Kelly steps firmly out of her comfort...

By Marie Kelly

The self-gifting beauty guide to Valentine’s Day

You might not be filled with love right now, or drowning in dates, but if anyone deserves a gift, a bit of attention and to feel a bit spoiled right now, it's you. These new little luxuries will pick you up and give you some much-needed indulgence.

By Holly O'Neill

What’s in your vanity cabinet? Three IMAGE beauty writers reveal the skincare products they can’t live without

From gua shas to day creams, we asked three of our beauty...


The ultimate skin prep that you can do while you binge-watch Netflix

Planning a Netflix night in? Indulge yourself in a self-care...

By Shayna Sappington

Maria Tash
Inside the beauty routine of Maria Tash, celebrity piercer and jewellery designer

She brought us the ‘curated ear’ and has pierced a...

By Holly O'Neill

The weekend shopping fix: hair heroes, happy t-shirts and luxe candles

By Holly O'Neill