Clean, Fresh and Safe
What to know about expiration dates for hair and skin care

It’s that time of the year—the post-holiday slim down. Refrigerators and closets get cleaned out and reorganized and the intent is set to keep things orderly, decluttered, and current. As you freshen up your cabinets, don’t forget to check your personal care products. Yes, your shampoos, conditioners, styling products, skin care and makeup all expire at some point. Aveda makes this process easy by including a PAO (point after opening) symbol on most of its products. This symbol looks like a line drawing of a can. It appears below the ingredients list and contains a number and the letter M. For example, 24M signifies that the product is safe to use 24 months after opening.

Why is it important to know your expiration dates? Because using expired beauty products may cause damage and irritation to your scalp, hair and skin. Everything we use on our hair and skin is a mixture of chemicals, natural and synthetic. Over time, there are irreversible chemical changes to products that degrade the quality, effectiveness, and safety of them. These changes can cause something simple like an odor, to something more serious like swelling, rashes, blistering, or discoloration of the skin. The most common example of this is getting a sunburn when using expired sunscreen or developing a rash from an expired moisturizer or cleanser. In extreme cases, compromised hair products can cause damage to your scalp or hair follicle that results in hair loss.

Here are some tips to keep your products clean, safe, and effective:

  • Check for PAO symbols on your products
  • Write the date of purchase on the bottle (if there isn’t a POA, use 12-24 months from date of buying/opening product as your guideline for expiration)
  • Don’t leave containers open (put those caps back on after use)
  • When re-using containers (like shampoo bottles), thoroughly clean first
  • Protect shampoo, conditioner, styling products, skin cleansers, moisturizers, and makeup, from extreme heat or sunlight
  • Look for changes in texture, color, or scent of these products
  • If you don’t remember last time you used the product, error on the side of caution and toss it

The FDA does not regulate the product life of beauty products and not all brands include POA’s on their bottles and tubes. Some products have dates printed on them or the outside packaging, and others just have a batch/lot number.

Most Aveda shampoos, conditioners, styling products and skincare have a 24-month POA date. Aveda products are 100% Vegan and are free from parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, formaldehyde and its donors, SLES, oxybenzone, benzene, retinyl palmitate, microcrytsalline wax, polyethyelene beads, triclosan, triclorcarban, lanolin, carmine, talc and synthetic fragrance.

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