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Understanding how to read a makeup label is necessary. You should treat it like a food label and be more conscious of what you are slathering on your skin.  Getting to know what you are putting on your face is just as important as knowing what you are putting in your mouth. Let’s take some time to learn how to interpret the information or typical symbols labelled on packaging now.

#1 Ingredients list

All ingredients are shown in descending order of concentration. See an ingredient you have never come across before? Go ahead and “Google” it! Keep a look out for ingredients that you are allergic to before buying, such as parabens, alcohol and synthetic fragrances etc.

Set of decorative cosmetic, face powder, blush. White background.

#2 PAO (Period After Opening)

The little jar icon tells you how long the product is good for after opening. For example, if it is written “12M” on or next to the symbol, you will know that the product will expire 12 months after opening. What will actually happen if you use expired makeup? It may cause breakouts and skin irritation like swelling, itching and rashes. 

Below you may find the general guide of makeup expiration dates.

  1. Liquid foundation & concealer – 6 to 12 months
  2. Mascara – 3 months
  3. Blush, eyeshadow & eyeliner – 6 to 12 months
  4. Lipstick – 1 year

Remember not to store makeup in warm or damp places like bathroom, it can lead to earlier expiration.

Period after opening PAO symbol. Useful lifetime of cosmetics after package is opened sign. Black drawing icon of pot with number of months representing best before date.

#3 Further Information

This hand-pointing “refer-to-insert” symbol appears quite often on smaller makeup packages, and it is used when there is not enough space to include all the required information on the packages. Additional information or instructions can be found somewhere else in the packaging, for example, a leaflet.

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#4 Green Dot

This is a trademark that indicates the manufacturer of the product has paid to fund the recycling of that packaging when it eventually becomes waste.  

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