Beauty Expiration: Manufacture Date vs Period After Opening Date

Beauty Expiration: Manufacture Date vs Period After Opening Date

Believe it or not, all cosmetics and skincare products have an expiration date. Should beauty products have expiration stamps like cartons of milk or other perishable items indicating how long they will last before going bad? Some industry professionals say yes - other says no. 

While there are no regulations or requirements under current law requiring cosmetic manufacturers to print expiration dates on the labels of cosmetic products, they do have the responsibility to determine the shelf life for products as part of their responsibility to ensure product safety. 

The official shelf life of a cosmetic according to the FDA is the period during which the manufacturer has determined a product to be best suited for use. This date is usually written on the product container with a standard date format, for example 01/09/ 2017. However, the self-date is not that same as the period after opening date – and this is the date you need to be most aware of when determining what to toss an item from your beauty collection or makeup kit.

The period after opening date (POA) is the time in months when the product will remain in good condition after you have opened the product and have used it for the first time. You will find this date on the product container or the product packaging by locating the symbol of an open cream jar with the letter “M” for the month and a number (12M) indicating that your product will last for 12 months. Although you will find the period after opening symbol on most cosmetics products, it is not required by law, yet brands in an effort to ensure the healthiness of your skin and to prevent adverse reactions take the extra step to keep you informed. 

When caring for your products who should make an effort to properly store them. For instance, if you expose them to high temperatures or sunlight the formula will likely change and the item will no longer perform as intended. So, it’s important to use the period after opening date as a “rule of thumb” because like foods, a product's quality may decline before the expiration date if the product has not been properly stored.

What are your thoughts on cosmetics expiration dates and the FDA’s role in regulating the labeling of beauty products? Let us know your thought?


  • FDA, Cosmetics
  • CosemticsInfo
  • Image: Flickr Unknown