Makeup and Skincare: Product Lifespan Tips

Makeup and Skincare: Product Lifespan Tips

My intention here is to provide some guidance regarding makeup and skincare product purchase, storage, use, life span and safety. All of the information here is subjective. I invite you to take what you will and leave the rest.

It’s likely because I’ve never forgotten my mother asking me as a little girl: “Have you seen what peanut butter eaten directly out of the jar looks like after a couple of weeks?”  I thought it must be pretty bad if I couldn’t lick the spoon and use it in the jar again…


I recommend choosing product that is distributed in a pump or spray over a product you dip into. It’s pretty much a given you’re going to breed some pretty sweet bacteria when you dip your finger into it every morning to apply it.

This is my favourite after-the-shower moisturizer in the WORLD:

Eight Hour Cream in a SPRAY!


In order to find out how much longer you can use your product you need to know when it was made, and when it was opened. If you’re a stickler, sharpie in the date you opened it so you remember.

 Many labels have what industry calls the “PAO” listed. It’s easy to spot as it’s a jar symbol with a number inside of it.  As many products have stabilizers, many products only begin to degrade after the comsumer takes the product home and opens it. Hence the PAO number, which is the number of months a product can safely be used after the product is opened.



Batch numbers are in code; written hieroglyphics for the manufacturer to understand for their purposes primarily. The batch code tells the manufacturer when the product was made and where. The problem is that each company has a different code method. Letters typically represent months. January=A, February=B etc. Though it’s not necessarily descending order. They may decide December is B. Other brands use actual dates of the month, and months can be represented with a 00 in front…. You’ll have to independently research the brand and decipher the batch code according to the brand template.


You can try this handy dandy site:


They have a calculator. It’s AMAZING and seems to be legit.

I think this page explains cosmetic labeling in Canada well, here’s the link:

Cosmetics Advertising and Labelling in Canada

The government advises to be doubtful of any therapeutic claims (to modify body functions, prevent or treat disease) on a label that does not have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or Natural Product Number (NPN) on it. There is a strict screening process a product must go through to get one.


Okay, so you have your products home, how you choose to store your new goodies will determine how well they will work for you and how long they will last.

Hopefullly you’ve chosen a pump, spray, or twist up. Ideally  the packaging will not be translucent- to prevent light from compromising the integrity of your product. Light can disturb stabilizers, and comprise SPF. As can storing products in the fridge as they are built to be stored at room temperature. Product exposure over long periods of time to heat or cold can’t be good.

Our best bet is to store our products in a drawer or cabinet, definitely not placed in direct sunlight. Make sure you’ve washed your hands before handling your makeup and keep the lids on tight!


I’ve always stuck by my own rule of thumb, which is,  powder product such as shadows and blushes for example have the longest life. I tend to use mine until they’re used up or until they’re replaced with new favorites. For me this goes only for dry product and is not applicable to wet/dry formulas.

I learned recently that powder products can be on the shelf up to 5 years in the EU according to their law- before you even buy them.

My rationale for the long life of powders is that they don’t breed bacteria the same way crèmes or liquids do. Why? Water and moisture are what breed bacteria. It’s difficult for bacteria to thrive without moisture.  This is another reason you shouldn’t add water to existing products, as it changes the formulaic balance that is keeping bacteria at bay.

Sunscreens are usually labeled with an expiry date, often about a year from the time it was manufactured. I have found the expiry most times on the crimp of the tube.

  In this case: It’s stamped right on the front of the tube of foundation! Lucky us! Nice one bareMinerals!

Bare Minerals Expiry Date

Foundation: These stats are all arguable, but everyone from WebMD to The Huffington Post all suggests a year to 18 months as a safe range. Again, the PAO number will communicate how long you can keep them. It is my personal belief that with our product as makeup artists, some product lifespans can be stretched up to a year longer as the product is dilligently used with sanitary procedure and proper storage. This means bacteria doesn’t have an opportunity to flourish as it would in personal use. Our cream or liquid products should always be dispatched onto a sanitary spatula or single use applicator and then applied to the skin. This idea excludes any products with SPF.

Liquid Eye Products: Mascaras and Liquid liners need to be replaced most often. Not only do they dry out but they are succeptible to breeding bacteria. I say replace these every three months.

Lipstick:  Replacing these every two years is a good idea.

Lip Gloss:  Every six months. When you think about it, with some products the applicator is swiped on your mouth and then goes back into the tube often, so yah, every six months….:)

A funky smell is an indicator some new bacteria has found a cozy home. If there’s any question best to get rid of it.


A really IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t share your makeup. Hence why industry professionals like us working makeup artists use sanitary procedure.  I’m especially passionate about this as I have seen it all and some of “it” is really gross. I’m consistently surprised at what people do and are willing to tolerate regarding makeup application!

Author Sidenote: I was scoffed at many -a -time in elementary and junior high when denying others access to my mint Chapstick. It was so worth it-I’ve never had a cold sore in my life and yes I’m pretty happy with myself about that.  Knock on wood.

Should you witness anyone using questionable process while working with you- DON’T LET THEM TOUCH YOU. I say be impolite. You have the right to question their procedure. It’s your body and dag nabbit I am telling you to guard it!  Piping up could be the difference between having pink eye or not having pink eye. Pink Eye as it’s uncomfortable it can also be costly. You must throw out all of your makeup as it’s contaminated after having had the infection.

When working with a professional disposable mascara wands should be used. They are a single use material. Should anyone be “sanitizing” and re-using a wand-don’t let it touch you.

As for false eyelashes; no thanks, we don’t want them back. Once they’ve touched your lashline, they’re yours to use and re-use as you see fit.

I really hope this has shed a bit of light on the subject for you.



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