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K-Beauty Guide: Expiration Date versus Manufacturing Date

We know the feeling of absolute panic when you receive a shiny new product only to glimpse at the worrying number on the bottom of the package.

Why does it say “2014” - it’s already 2015! Is this expired? Why are they still selling it? Grr, I’m going to beat someone up! (Please don’t.) 

Stay calm and read on: You might be looking at a manufacturing date instead of an expiration date. 

Unsurprisingly, Korean products have manufacture/expiration dates printed in… Korean. 

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. 

The lowdown is there is a “Manufacturing Date" and an "Expiration Date" - pretty self explanatory. 

Korean companies like to put manufacturing dates so consumers know they are getting a fresh product. But wait, isn’t that what an expiration date is for? Having a separate manufacturing date and an expiration date is really for the benefit of the consumers, but the mechanics of it is really two fold. 

For example, an expiration date is the last day the product can be distributed. You wouldn’t want to buy a product that is super close to the expiration date because you’ll have less time to use it.

If you buy a product that just came from a fresh batch, you technically have a longer time to use the product, BUT this is referring to it’s shelf life prior to opening. Once you open a product, it will start to oxidize and be exposed to bacteria, so don’t open them and think you have until the expiration date to use them. Our handy little chart below explains how long your products “live” after opening.

If you see the little icon below on your product, this indicates the amount of time it is suggested to use up the product by after opening, with the 2M representing "two months."


To add to the confusion, Asian countries have a different order for their dates where they typically put the year first followed by the month and date. The dates you're looking at might like like this: 20150103. What looks like a jumble of numbers can be decoded to be a date in the following format: YYYY/MM/DD.

The scenario you want to avoid is buying a product that is so close to the expiration date that once you open it, it hits the expiration date before the end of the period after opening.

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 then finish it all 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 even take on other parasites that can cause your skin problems like irritation and break outs. 

If you’re unsure of the manufacturing/expiration date because you can’t remember when you opened it or the date is smudged, a general rule of thumb to follow can be 3 years from the manufacturing date if unopened and 1-2 years after opening. For natural/organic products, it’s best to be on the more conservative side when it comes to time because these products generally lack preservatives that other products may have. Below is a guide for our aromatica products which are all ECOCERT certified natural and or organic.

Of course, if the product starts to have discoloration, develop a smell, or cause any unusual sensations upon application, that’s a good sign to move on to the next one. 

We prefer to get the most out of our products (really, who doesn’t?), so here are some of our favorite tips to keep your products - and your skin - safe and clean!

- Keeps products in a cool, dry place that is not in direct sunlight. 
- Use and clean the little spatulas that come with your products OR switch to using q-tips to scoop out your product.
- Use a sharpie to write on the date opened and the good-til date on your product lid or side.
- Only open a new product if you plan on using it because otherwise, you’ll start the oxidization process too soon.
Maybe it's time to re-evaluate how long some of those products have been sitting in your bathroom? We certainly have!
Posted on October 15, 2015
by Peach & Lily
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