Q: Dear Miss Bliss,
Thanks for the tips! If possible, can you elaborate on how long of a shelf life each type of product would have? I know generally the shelf lives of makeup, but wasn’t too sure about moisturizers, face washes, and the like. Thanks!
Self Life Savy
A: Dear Shelf Life Savy,
Great question! This is an easy answer. The period after opening symbol or PAO symbol is a graphic symbol that identifies the useful lifetime of a cosmetics product after its package has been opened for the first time. It depicts an open cosmetics pot and is used together with a written number of months or years.
In the European Union, cosmetics products with a shelf-life of at least 30 months are not required to carry a “best used before end of …” date. Instead, there has to be “an indication of the period of time after opening for which the product can be used without any harm to the consumer”. The EU Cosmetics Directive defines in Annex VIIIa the language-neutral open-jar symbol, which manufacturers should use to indicate this period.
The time period is most often represented compactly as a number of months, followed by the letter “M”, as in “36M” for a period of three years, written either onto the front side of the depicted pot, or to the right of it. The letter “M” is the initial for the word month not only in English, but also in many other languages.
If you flip your lovely skin care around, you’ll see something that looks like this:
This particular product would be good for 30 months after opening. So if you opened that product today 4/10/2009, it would be good until 10/10/11 *checking my mental math*
The POA (period after opening) varies by product, so I recommend checking it when you open it to ensure freshness. Hope this helps!