Expiry Date, A Requirement or Recommendation


What are the few factors one should always look for before purchasing a product? Product quality? Duh! Ingredients list? Yes. Price? Yes. The expiry date of the product? YES, YES, And YES. If there’s one thing that is extremely important, it is the durability of any product you’re purchasing. Generally speaking, a lot of people do check the expiration date on their food products before purchasing, and they should.

But, do you ever catch yourself wondering “how long is my skincare going to last before it turns bad?” How many among us know the fact that everything has an expiration date? That means, your cosmetics, and your skincare products have an expiry date. So no, you can’t reserve a product to be used only on a special occasion for many years to come, unfortunately. Oftentimes, people can’t find the expiry date on makeup and skincare products and legally, these products are not required to bear a label of their expiry date.

However, companies often let the user know how long a product would be suitable to use. It is, however, crucial to understand these terms clearly to know what they mean. Here’s what you need to know about the expiration of products. But let us talk terms first.

All that is there to know about expiry dates!

Expiry Date

As per definition, an expiry date denotes a period till something is valid or safe to consume. The expiry date can be given in the format of EXP DD/MM/YY or EX MM/YY. This date is often printed on the product’s outer carton or the container itself.

Shelf Life

Shelf life is not the same as the expiration date since the shelf life of the product denotes the time period for which any product remains usable. Shelf life doesn’t necessarily mean that a product would give the best/ maximum results till that time period. Generally, shelf life depends on the type of product. For instance, the shelf life of cream products may vary from 2-3 years but that of an aerosol is much longer, e.g; 5 years.

Best Before

Often seen on food items, BB otherwise known as best before is the date which claims that a product is in its best shape and form before that date has passed. After that date, a product is safe to consume, but it won’t be in its best form.


This term shows the safety of the product after opening it. Product-after-opening date is often shorter than its shelf life or expiration date. Companies often mention this term in the format of ‘Months’. Confused? Don’t worry, we’ll explain. If you see terms like 6M, 12M, 24M, etc. on your skincare products, that means these products are fit to use within that time frame since they might go bad due to environmental exposure after that period even if they’re not expired.

Importance of Skincare Product’s Expiry Date

So why do we all go through the hassle of keeping up with expiry dates? It is because your skin is the largest organ of the body and anything you put on it is going to leave an impact on your skin. It is important to use products that are effective and not dangerous to your skin. Any ingredient, if gone bad or expired, will cause damage to your skin no matter how good and effective that particular ingredient is. Therefore, to establish the safety profile of cosmetics and skincare products, it is recommended to use them up before their expiry date.

Problematic Products

It sometimes happens that a product is not expired but it is visibly flaky or crumbly or sometimes the emulsion is reversed (separation of oils and other particles so they don’t appear homogenous). If this happens, you should always err on the side of caution and you should stop using that product immediately. There could be many reasons this might happen. Here are few reasons stated below.

Storage Conditions

The storage conditions of these products might be bad, leaving them exposed to an unsuitable environment for a longer period of time.

Keeping your skincare products and cosmetics in your washroom is actually a bad idea since it is a moist area, which allows bacteria and other micro-organisms to thrive in this environment.

Often, people keep their skincare products near big windows which allows direct sunlight to peek through the window and it is actually damaging to the products since the emulsions and stability of the products is affected. As a result of increased temperature, the likelihood of irregularities in the formulation is increased.

Keeping your skincare products in the refrigerator generally is not very damaging but it may cause crystallization in the formulation, which is not ideal as well.

Ideal Storage

You can make your product last long by storing it in a cool, dry place as is advised on the product’s labels. This way, you can prevent the effects of moisture and harsh temperatures, thereby, allowing your formulations to retain their ideal shape for longer periods.

Expiry Date Of Hair Products

Like everything, Your hair care products also have an expiry date that you need to keep up with. Generally, shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, etc have an expiry period of 2 years from the date of manufacture and though they may appear okay even after a long while, you shouldn’t use them beyond their expiry dates since the ingredients have the potential to wreak havoc on your hair. Other hair care products such as hair sprays, dry shampoos, hair mousse, hair oils, etc have an expiry period of around 5 years since aerosols are less prone to damage by contamination and oils generally are very stable for longer periods.

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