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When is a skincare product expired?

8 Aug 2020
by S. Hachimi

Hi Little Wonderlanders,

Have you ever gotten a Korean product and thought it was expired seeing the date on the bottom? Because Little Wonderland is selling Korean beauty products, we receive plenty of questions on expiration dates on our products. Here’s exactly what you need to know to make sure the beauty products you are using aren’t expired, which can cause your skin distress and irritation.

On Korean beauty products there is a manufacturing date and an expiration date. The manufacturing date is put on the products by Korean companies so consumers know they are getting a fresh product. The Korean word ‘제조’ means ‘manufactured’. You can calculate the expiration date based on the manufacturing date. Generally, the expiration date of many cosmetics is two-three years (with a few exceptions of course). 

Expiration date is generally written as “까지,” meaning “until” in Korean. This means the product maybe used until the stated date. Asian countries have a different order for their dates where they typically put the year first, followed by the month and date. The dates come in the following format: YYYY/MM/DD.

Some cosmetics also have a symbol on them indicating how long it can be used after opening.  The symbol looks like a cap opening with a number and the letter M inside of it. This means you can use the product for that number of months after opening it before it will expire. 

Here’s a chart that summarizes the normal shelf life of beauty items.

Product Family

Product Type

Shelf Life

Basic Skincare

Toner, moisturizer, essence, eye cream, sunscreen, serum

Before opening: 30 months

After opening: 12 months


Cleansing foam, cleansing cream, cleansing oil, wipes, exfoliator

Before opening: 30 months

After opening: 12 months


Lipstick, lip gloss

Before opening: 30 months

After opening: 6-18 months

Mascare, eye liner

Before opening: 24 months

After opening: 6 months

Eye shadow, blush, concealer, base, foundation

Before opening: 36 months

After opening: 12 months

Face powder

Before opening: 60 months

After opening: 36 months


Sheet pack (sheet mask)

Before opening: 12months

After opening: Immediately after use

Wash-off mask

Before opening: 30 months

After opening: 12 months

Keep in mind that these are only guidelines. It’s important to check the product for the individual manufactured or expiration date.

The ideal scenario is buying a product that sits comfortably between the manufacturing date and expiration date, so that you can open it, use it and finish it before the expiration date. Using expired products or products that have been open for too long is potentially harmful to your skin, because it’s had time to change chemically and cause your skin problems like irritation and break outs. If the products start to develop a smell and have discoloration or anything unusual, that’s a good sign to move on to the next one. 

We all want to get the most out of the products, so here are some tips to keep your cosmetics safe and clean. 

  • Only open a new product if you plan on using it, because otherwise you’ll start the oxidization process too soon. 
  • Keep products in a cool, dry place, not directly in sunlight
  • Use and clean the little spatulas that come with your product or switch to using q-tips t scoop out your product.
  • Use a marker to write on the date opened on the products.

If you still have questions about expiration date, please contact us via chat, Facebook or e-mail. We’re here to help you!

XXX - Siham

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