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  • Writer's pictureMarina The Beauty BFF

What is Period After Opening (POA)?

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Hi Beauty BFFs,

Ever wonder what that symbol with a number followed by an M is on your beauty products or on the box? If you haven’t figured that one out, then think about when you last bought it? Was it two years ago during cyber Monday? It could be expired, and that symbol is called a PAO, which stands for Period After Opening.

Expired products can grow bacteria, and/or not work properly after opening. The PAO is the average months you should keep your products “after” it is open before it expires. The best way to see if the product is expired or gone bad is to see if it smells funky, looks different in texture or color and isn’t effective anymore. The shelf life is different, that usually refers to a product “un-opened”, which usually means it will still be good to use before 2 - 3 years if un-opened.

General rules for tossing out products 👇🏽.


- 3-6 months: Mascara, liquid eyeliner & eyebrow gel. If the product is dry, toss it out.

- 6 months: Concealer (cream/liquid/stick).

- 6-12 months: Lipgloss & liquid lipstick.

- 12-18 months: Foundation, setting powder, blush & bronzer (cream/liquid/loose powder/stick).

- 12-24 months: Eyeshadow (cream/liquid/powders), lipliner, eyeliner & brow pencils.

- 18-24 months: Lipstick (solid stick).

- 2 yrs (24m) - 3 yrs (36m): "Pressed" powder foundation, setting powder, blush & bronzer.


- 6-12 months: Face moisturizer & serum.

- 6-12 months: Toner.

- 6-12 months: Sunscreen.

- 12 months: Cleanser.

- 12 months: AHA & BHA exfoliant.

- 12 months: Lip balm.


- 12 months: Shampoo, conditioner & hair mask.

- 12-18 months: Styling product (in bottle, jar, & pump spray).

- No expiration date: aerosol spray product, toss when the product looses its strength to work properly.

- 20-45 minutes after mixing and using: box color demi-permanent & permanent color.

It’s time to refresh for the new year! Toss out the old and get new ones or try different products. ❤️

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