How long should you keep your cosmetics – Period after Opening

Clean up your act! – How long you should keep your cosmetics

Now that the warmer weather is upon us, it’s time for a Spring clean. Forget the house, the first place you should start is your bathroom and your unyielding pile of jars, tubes and bottles. Just like food, cosmetics and beauty products can spoil although they have a longer shelf life. But how long? In 2005 the EU passed a directive stating that all cosmetics should carry a ‘Period after Opening’ symbol which is represented by an open cream jar and the period given in months and/or years. If the period is given in months it should be followed by an ‘M’. Have you noticed this symbol on your beloved lotions and potions? Most makeup i.e. foundation, powders, lipsticks and mascara should only be kept for no longer than 4 months to a year. In the real world we ladies tend to keep our favourite lippie for much longer. What about face wash, body scrubs and masks? These items can usually be kept longer but the times vary. Below are Period after Opening symbols from some of my own stash of goodies and how long they should be kept for:

1. Thermal protection spray for hair

2. Makeup remover

3. Face wash

4. Face mask

5. Face Scrub

There isn’t any rhyme or reason to these different lengths of time, however if a product contains more natural ingredients and less preservatives the shelf life will be reduced dramatically. So all those organic products that are collecting dust on your bathroom shelf may need to be binned if you haven’t used them in a while! Of course when you get rid of the old stuff you get to buy new stuff yeah!

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  1. Ruthie says:

    Interesting article, especially as I was going through my make up stash the other day and found some old favourite lipsticks of mine. I couldn’t remember when I first got most of them which is annoying. I had heard about these EU regulations and cosmetic expiry dates so I did some searching and found a great product. They are called Timestrips. They show at a glance how long has passed since your cosmetics were purchased. They are also temperature sensitive making them good for the hot weather. I have bought quite a few and they are brill. You can find them at

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