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Can skincare expire?

  • 4 min read

We’ve all done it: found a forgotten jar of product at the back of the cupboard, with absolutely no idea of how long it’s been there. Have you ever been tempted to see if it’s still usable? 

In this blog, we’ll dive into the expiration dates on skincare, and whether skincare can expire even if it hasn’t been opened.

Does skincare expire?

Yes, it may surprise you to learn that skincare products do indeed expire. The effectiveness and safety of these products can decline over time, and using expired products can potentially cause skin irritation or other issues. 

It’s especially important to keep expiration dates in mind with products containing active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and retinol.

Does skincare expire if unopened? 

Unopened skincare products can still expire, although they typically have a longer shelf life compared to opened products.

How to find the expiration date on skincare 

Finding the expiration date on skincare is simple and easy, if you know how. It’s all well and good knowing that skincare expires, but knowing how to tell if skincare is expired is something everyone should know.

1. Expiration date 

Some skincare products come with an expiration date printed on the packaging. This indicates the date until which the product is expected to remain both effective and safe to use.

2. Period after opening (PAO) symbol

This symbol, which looks like a jar with an open lid and a number followed by an "M" – for example 12M or 24M – indicates how many months the product is useful for after the package has been opened for the first time.


3. Changes in appearance, smell, or texture

It’s worth noting that if a product changes colour, develops an off smell, or its texture alters significantly, it might have expired, even if it's within the listed expiration date or PAO period.

If you’ve used the product before, any changes like these will be easier to notice.

Can you use expired skincare?

No, it is not recommended to use expired skincare. There are several risks that using expired skincare poses, including: 

1. Reduced efficacy

The active ingredients in skincare products that we all love can degrade over time, making them either less effective or completely ineffective. This means you may not get the skin benefits you expect from the product.

2. Skin irritation

When products expire, the chemical composition of the product may change, leading to new, potentially harmful compounds. These new compounds can cause skin irritation, redness, rashes, and even allergic reactions. 

Some active ingredients, like retinol or alpha hydroxy acids, can become more potent or irritating as they degrade, potentially causing severe irritation.

3. Bacterial growth

Once a product is past its expiration date or PAO time, preservatives may no longer be effective, allowing bacteria, mould, and yeast to grow. Applying contaminated products to your skin can lead to uncomfortable infections, breakouts, and other skin issues.

Expiration dates on UpCircle skincare

The majority of our products at UpCircle have a PAO of six months. 

If you come across products with very long PAO numbers that may be because they contain preservatives, but products that are 100% oil-based can also remain stable for longer periods, without preservatives. 

We’ll run through the expiration times and PAO labels on some of our fan-favourite products.

Cleansing Balm with Vitamin E

A nourishing makeup remover that adds a hit of hydration – what’s not to love?

Our Cleansing Balm with Vitamin E works to break down and remove stubborn makeup and oils that have built up throughout the day. The balm itself is rich in fatty acids to help support skin elasticity, and leave skin feeling nourished. 



It combines the finely-ground powder of discarded apricot stones – a natural by-product of the apricot oil industry that is rich in antioxidant vitamin E – with skin-calming blackcurrant seed, blue tansy and sea buckthorn oils.

How to use: With dry hands take a coin-sized amount and massage between your fingers and onto your face in upward circular motions. YouTube Video

PAO: 6 months

Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil

Multi award-winning, our Organic Face Serum is a hit for all skin types. 

Rich in rosehip oil and jojoba oil to help lock in hydration, this serum helps to boost collagen production in the skin and keep skin firm. 



As this serum is 100% oil-based, it works through occlusion, locking in the hydration provided by the moisturiser used underneath. It then forms a protective seal over your skin.

How to use: Apply a few drops to finger tips and massage into the skin, after using moisturiser.

PAO: 6 months

Body Oil with Upcycled Passion Fruit Oil

Invigorating and energising, our new Body Oil is infused with upcycled passion fruit oil, helping to repair the skin’s natural barrier.

Boosting collagen production to help keep skin firm, this body oil leaves your skin feeling sumptuously moisturised, without that greasy feeling. 



This oil also includes upcycled kumquat oil to boost hydration and tangerine oil to fight free radicals. 

How to use: Apply a small amount of body oil onto either damp or dry skin, massaging in circular motions until absorbed for soft, hydrated skin all day.

PAO: 9 months

Eau de Parfum

All natural and vegan perfumes can be difficult to find. UpCircle goes a step further, by using upcycled ingredients to craft unique scents. 

From fresh and floral with ‘Flaura’ to comforting and empowering with ‘Santelle’, find your complementing fragrance in a refillable bottle.



How to use: Spritz behind your ears and on your pulse points. 

Top tip: To preserve the longevity of the perfume, apply a moisturiser, spritz the perfume and let it set without rubbing the wrists.

PAO: 24 months

Expiry dates on refills

It’s important to keep PAO times in your mind if you use our refill scheme. We know that many UpCirclers have been sending the same containers back for years, and the product information has sometimes worn off.

Jot down the expiration information – for example, six months or 12 months – for all the products you use, so you have it to hand even if the information has worn away over time. 

We’ve noted them down on our official step-by-step routine.

UpCircle PAOs

Discover our full collection at UpCircle.