Makeup is a great everyday tool to make us feel beautiful and put together. But like everything else, it eventually goes bad, and it’s important to know when and why. Using products that are past their expiry date isn’t a great idea. I wouldn’t even try it if you don’t want breakouts and blemishes.
I’m pretty sure you know there is this little symbol at the back of your foundation tube or your micellar water, but it’s on everything else too. This is the PAO symbol, which stands for Period-After Opening. It’s an open box with a number, followed by the letter M, for Months.
I wrote the following guide to help everyone with the confusion that usually floats around this subject. Yes, you probably know what it stands for, but do you know how the duration of an open product is calculated? And do you know how you can make the best of each product’s lifetime? Keep reading to find out.
There is usually a “6M” standing at the back of your bottle, and the reason is its main ingredient: water. Bacteria grows faster once it’s been in contact with air, and contaminate the whole product fairly quickly. There isn’t much you can do to avoid that, but it’s important to stick to that period after opening, in opposition to other products, which we can stretch a bit more.
Powder foundations should be usable up to 24M, and that’s because they’re dry products. It’s harder for bacteria to grow and multiply. Hygiene is an important factor if you want to keep your powders for that amount of time. Wash your hands before every use, your brushes regularly and don’t forget to clean the top layer of your powders once in a while too. This works for any type of powder (blush, highlighter, bronzer, eyeshadows and so on).
Liquid and cream foundations are a whole other story. Their lifetime is estimated between 6 and 12M. They contain more water and oils than a powder, which again, increase the risk and speed of bacterial contamination.
Same story, different product. Concealer usually has a 12M PAO symbol on its packaging. The water and oils it contains brings bacteria. Contamination makes the break out you initially want to hide look worse. I first use concealer to hide blemishes and break outs before my foundation, so apart from my primer, it’s the first thing that touches my face. If I use a contaminated product, I can only imagine the mess it’s gonna make with my skin.
Brow & Eye Pencils
Now, this is a dry product. It should have a 24M symbol. I don’t use them a lot, so I’m glad their use is extended compared to most of my other products. To avoid infections or bad break outs, keep the lid on, and don’t forget to sharpen your pencils frequently. Sharpening removes immediately bacteria, while putting the cap on will reduce the risks of contamination. Try to share those as little as possible, as they are products that directly touch your eyes or come very close to them. This works for lipliners too.
That’s one you have to be very cautious about. Its lifetime is usually of 6M. Again, do not share this product if you can avoid it. An eye infection is never a cute look, and nobody is safe when it comes to it. Don’t pump your mascara, as it pushes air in the tube and that’s a free pass for bacteria to build up. Never add water either, we’ve been through this, it contains loads of bacterias. Mascara is such an amazing tool, it’s the one thing I never fail to put on when I have to get out of my house, so I take that one very seriously.
As talked about earlier in the “Brow & Eye Pencils” section, pencil liner is pretty much safe for up to 24M if you take good care of it. Liquid liner, on the other hand, is about 6M.The water it contains is the perfect home for bacteria, so watch out for that one too as it gets close to your precious eyes.
Thank goodness you can keep lipsticks for 24M! They’re what I have most in my collection, and I would hate to throw them away after 6 or 12 months of use. To make sure you make the best of your favourite lipstick’s life, and stretch it as much as possible, don’t forget to put the lid on. Use a lip brush if you can, and as with other products, do clean them once in a while to take the first layer (the one with bacteria) away, simply by using a clean makeup wipe.
24M for your favourite nail colours. You’ve guessed it, the contact with air is the problem again, but not really because of contamination. This time, it’s more about the product evaporating, thickening and separate once it has been opened. There isn’t much you can do to avoid that, except make sure the lid is well put on, and regularly watch out for a change in colour, consistency and texture. Those are going to be your main alarm bells when it comes to the sanity of a nail polish.
It’s usually 8 to 10Y (Years) for those. Be careful to keep your bottles away from bright lighting and heat, and don’t forget to put the lid back on.
All in all, it’s up to you to make your products last the time they should, or even stretch it a tiny little bit (especially for dry products). There are some golden rules though: always put the lid on, wash your hands before using a product, don’t store products near sunlight or heat sources, don’t share them with anyone, don’t dilute with water or anything else for that matter, wash your brushes frequently (once a month) and use them once completely dry only.
Of course, look out for any change in colour, smell, texture or consistency. And when in doubt, just toss it! You are always better safe than sorry/feeling sorry for your skin once it has broken out.
I truly hope you have enjoyed this post. It’s the first time I write something like this, and I really enjoyed it! Let me know what are some of your tricks to keep your products longer, or anything else you’d like to share in the comments. Let’s connect over beauty talks!
Have a wonderful day,