Look, we get it. No one likes to throw out a half used moisturiser or an eyeshadow palette, especially if they’re pricey. But the fact is all beauty products expire, and while it might seem harmless (after all, haven’t we all eaten some cereal that’s passed its toss date and lived to tell the tale), using expired skincare and makeup can compromise the health of your complexion

While most skincare products have a use by date stamped onto its box, that’s only applicable for if you’ve kept it unopened. The PAO (period after opening) time is vastly different. For example, if a serum claims to expire only five years later, that doesn’t mean you can open it and use it for five years. For skincare, the PAO length is usually anything from six months to a year.  

Here’s a simple cheat sheet of how long each beauty product can typically last after you open it.


These can last for about a year to a year and a half from when you first open it. But since most women wash their face twice daily, cleansers usually get finished within two to three months. 


Six months to one year, depending on its active ingredients. Serums tend to be extra powerful and penetrate deeper into skin, but they also can lose their efficacy faster than other skincare. 


About a year. A good moisturiser should be fine to use for about 12 months. But as most of them come in a tub, do make sure to secure its cap tightly to ensure it doesn’t go bad. 


One to two years. They tend to last slightly longer than other skincare but if you start to notice the consistency of the sunscreen changing, that probably means that the active sunscreen agents and vehicle ingredients are starting to break down. 


Six months to a year. Cream-based and cushion foundations require “re-dipping”, which means they get contaminated faster. Liquid foundations can be kept for longer, provided the product doesn’t start breaking down and seperating. 


Three to six months. This popular product has one of the shortest shelf lives and is also one that you should adhere to its PAO strictly. For one, it requires constant double dipping. The brush head of your mascara also comes into contact with body fluids, which makes it more prone to breeding of yeast and bacteria. And last but not least, your peepers are sensitive and can get infected more easily. No one wants an eye infection from a mascara. 


Six months to a year. Lippies are another product that requires re-dipping, which means you shouldn’t keep them for too long. You should also toss them once they start to look dry. 

There are also some simple ways to spot if your beauty buy has gone bad. If it has started to smell, look runny or lumpy, or feel grainy, then it’s probably time to bin it. To help prolong the shelf life of your products, you can follow some simple rules like keeping them in a cool, dry environment and avoid putting them in direct sunlight. Also, remember to wash your hands before using products that require dipping.