When Is The Right Time To Throw Away Your Skincare Products?

Ever wondered when is the right to to throw away that serum that has been sitting on your vanity? Find out below.

Unlike that block of cheese that is not supposed to look like blue cheese or the carton of milk that has gone sour, skincare or makeup products might not have obvious signs of turning bad. In fact, many of us are guilty to holding on to that beloved lippie or pricey serum for a tad too long.

But, how long is too long?

All beauty products have a shelf life

Yes, you read that right. All your precious beauty products will go bad one day. You run the risk of applying products past their prime on your skin if you don’t know when to toss them out. 

Finding out the shelf life of your products is not rocket science thankfully. Expiry dates can be easily spotted on the packaging of products. 


If there isn’t one, try looking out for the PAO—or period after opening—label. The symbol looks like an open jar. It indicates the shelf life of the product once it’s been opened, which is typically between six months to one year. For example, a PAO with “3M” would mean you should throw the product out 3 months after you've opened it.  

Yes, it’s that short. 

Additionally, you should also take note of the PAO even if there is an expiry date—shelf life of your product starts counting down the moment you open it.

Other signs of a product gone bad

When in doubt, looking out for changes in smell, colour or consistency is a fool-proof indication of whether your product is still good. 

Paying special attention if your cream that was once smooth has turned lumpy or developed odours. Strange blotches of discolouration can also mean contamination.

Yes, don’t put that on your face. 

It must not be that bad to put expired products on my skin, right?


Products that have turned bad can compromise your skin. Instead of achieving that coveted glow you wanted, you can end up with skin irritation, breakouts and even infection. 

The best practices

Use a marker to indicate the opening date on the bottle of your products. Using spatulas can go a long way in preventing bacterial contamination. 

While we can stop the clock from ticking, placing our beauty products in a cool, dry and dark environment can keep them at their best for longer. 

Now, go spring clean your beauty products. 

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