Lost In Translation: Makeup Packaging Symbols: Lifespan

Ever wonder what those tiny little symbols on the back of your makeup mean? The beauty counter sales people will not share this information with you, but by understanding a few key symbols, you’ll become a wiser shopper and a safer consumer. Each week, I’ll shed a little light on those [hr]

These symbols are perhaps the most popular and the reason for this blog series. I’m sure many of you see these symbols and, just like I did, assume they are some type of code for production or something wickedly complicated that has nothing to do with your actual product. Well-not exactly! The jar with the lid off represents an open product and the number on the jar represents how many months you should keep this product in your stash. Most powder products have a lifespan of 18-24 months while liquid products generally range from 3-12 months. Of course, there are no set rules. If you use a product 1 month after it’s expected lifespan, you’re going to be just fine, but the product itself may be gunky, smell funky or oxidize on your skin. However, products like liquid liners and mascaras should absolutely never live more than 6 months in your bag due to the fact that they harbor the most bacteria. If you want to get the most out of your powder products, invest in a cosmetic sanitizing spray or spritz 70% isopropyl alcohol onto the pan every month or so.

The hourglass symbol isn’t as common, but simply means that your product should not be kept for more than 30 months.

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FEEDBACK: Did YOU know about this symbol? Will it change the way you keep your makeup?


  1. says

    Oh! So that’s what that means! Thank you so much for explaining because I had been wondering. Going GF has made me a (paranoid) label reader and I notice so much more now. That one had me puzzled.

  2. Lynne L says

    Thank you Jennifer! I had no idea. Not that I wear much of it since most of it bothers me, but I know I`m guilty of having stuff around longer than I should. Going to do a cleanout! Thanks again!

  3. says

    I did NOT know about this information. Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing good content and useful info. I think I need to clean out some of the items in my makeup bag:-D There are enough things that I come into contact with that are potentially harboring germs, I don’t need them being applied to my face and skin.

    • Jennifer says

      No problem! I’m so glad I could shed some light on this for others as well as myself! Not exactly my most thrilling post, but it’s definitely important! Thanks for your constant feedback, Connie! We all appreciate you!

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