What Is A PAO?This is the term beauty product manufacturers use that stands for “period after opening.” Unless your item has a precise expiration date, as sunscreens do, for example, the PAO is your best guide to how long the product lasts after you’ve opened the package or box. Unfortunately, this information is usually on the outside packaging, and you’ve likely recycled the box before checking. They often denote a period of time such as “12 mos,” meaning that once you’ve opened this particular product, it is at its best for 12 months. If you don’t know the PAO of the product worrying you, but you realize it’s been in your drawer or cupboard for a long time, err on the side of caution and pitch it. Here are tips for keeping makeup, skincare products and other items in your beauty supplies drawer safe and usable for as long as possible:
1- Powder-Based ProductsBlushes, bronzers, and other powdered products last for as long as 2–3 years. However, these things must be stored properly. (We’ll get to proper storage techniques shortly).
2- Foundation, Cover Up & Other Liquid ProductsU Because they are emollients, these products have a shorter lifespan than powders. If you use foundation virtually every day, you don’t need to worry about its expiration date, as you’ll likely finish the container before it gets old. However, if you only use it occasionally, don’t keep it longer than 6 – 8 months.
3- MascaraThis is one of those products you should be especially careful with, as the wand goes up close to your eyes. Mascara stays in good condition for 3 – 6 months, in which time you may have used it up. Do not, under any circumstances, add a drop of water to help the mascara stretch further! If the wand gets dirty, clean it with warm water and gentle soap and let it dry completely before returning it to the tube. If you get an eye infection at any point by chance, throw the mascara out immediately, even if you’ve only used it once. The wand is probably contaminated, and putting it next to your eye may reinfect it.
4- Lip Balm, Cleansers & TonersYou should use these products daily, but if not, you’ll be glad to know they last a full year; after that, it’s time to replace them. A good rule of thumb for lip balm is this: if you only use it in winter, replace your tube each autumn.
5- Eye MakeupWhether you use creams or powder-based eye shadow, remember: these products also go onto your eyes, very delicate and vulnerable spots. Be sure you keep whatever brush or wand you use to apply eye makeup clean. Don’t keep them stowed at the back of the vanity for more than one year – that’s about their maximum lifespan. Like our advice on ditching mascara if you’ve had an eye infection, the same holds true for shadows, eyeliners, and eyebrow brushes and liners.
6- Moisturizers & Skin CreamsSix months to one year is the most you can ask of these products. Any longer risks the products deteriorating in both thickness and quality. But if you buy small containers and use these products every day, worrying about them growing old isn’t an issue.
7- Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, & LinersAll of these last as long as 3 years, providing they are kept out of extreme heat and sunlight. If you leave a tube of lipstick in your car’s glove compartment for emergencies, three years is pushing it! Get rid of it after one year tops.
Dos & Don’ts For Storing Beauty Products:Follow these tips for storing your favourite products, and you will ensure they are safe, germ-free and last as long as possible.
- Do get rid of eye makeup if you’ve had an eye infection of any kind. Keeping a tube of mascara, for example, even if you’ve used it only once, is not worth the risk of getting a secondary infection if the wand has been contaminated.
- Do pay attention to all ‘best before’ dates, expiry dates, and PAOs. From now on, check the box and package all your makeup, creams and other products come in for this vital bit of information.
- Do keep your cosmetics and moisturizers out of the sunlight and as far away from moisture as possible.
- Do consider how the climate you live in affects the beauty products you use. For example, extreme heat can make lipsticks stored in your purse’s cosmetics bag soft, thereby reducing their shelf life.
- Do pay attention to all best-before dates and PAOs on packaging and containers.
- Don’t buy products in jars. Any container into which you have to dip your fingers has the potential to become a source of infection, as your fingers may carry germs that get transferred into the jar, even if you wash your hands.
- Don’t share makeup or creams – ever! Letting your daughter play with your makeup may be well-intentioned, but it’s a sure way of transferring germs and bacteria. Little hands are not always as clean as they should be, so letting her use your lipstick just for fun or to play grownup is risky. Get a few inexpensive products for her alone to use if she’s in the phase of wanting to imitate mommy.
- Don’t keep any product that smells off and looks odd. If a cream has separated, for example – toss it!
- Don’t add water to extend a product’s life.
- Don’t forget to regularly wash all application brushes and wands regularly with warm, soapy water, and let them dry thoroughly.
- Don’t put products of any kind in the fridge. The extreme cold affects the consistency.
- Don’t buy beauty products with excess packaging!
- Don’t forget to clean out that storage cupboard or drawer. These places easily get the odd swipe of lipstick or drop of foundation in them. Keeping them clean means your beauty products stay cleaner too. Be sure to regularly wipe down the containers themselves, too, along with the pump mechanisms and screw tops on all products.