While few would drink a glass of expired milk or eat that container of unidentifiable leftovers lurking at the back of the refrigerator, many individuals – professionals and clients alike – use skin care and beauty products far past their prime. Whether this is caused by penny pinching or ignorance, using products beyond their shelf life can lead to less efficacy and potential for bacteria growth. And, in some cases, using expired products could even be dangerous, as in the case of expired sunscreen, which leaves the skin vulnerable to ultraviolet damage. To stay safe and get the most out of products purchased, professionals should always follow expiration dates on product labels and teach clients to do the same. For quick reference, below are some pointers for best practices when it comes to shelf life.
OPENED VS. UNOPENED
Products that are unopened typically last longer than opened products which have been exposed to light, air, bacteria, and so forth. Once opened, follow the directions on the label, throwing the product away once it has reached its Period After Opening (PAO) date, which usually looks like a jar symbol with a number followed by an “M.” For example, 12M means the product should be used within 12 months of being opened.
THROW IT AWAY
Discard a product immediately if:
STORAGE AND USE
To reduce contamination and potential for bacteria growth:
SHELF LIFE QUICK GUIDE
Because of lack of regulations, many products do not list expiration dates. In general, use the following as a guide for maximum shelf life.
Three to Six Months
Six Months to One Year
One to Two Years
Two to Three Years