Viva Challenge: label your cosmetics

labeling skin care products & cosmetics

For this week’s challenge, I’m urging you to label your cosmetics upon purchase. If your product permits, you can write it directly on the ingredient label. If not, you can use a little sticker to do the job for you.

The reason for this challenge is because all cosmetics have a shelf life and you can’t use them indefinitely. For example, sunscreens expire in one or two years while mascaras can last you about three to six months.

In fact, skin care products are best used when they’re fresh, especially those with active ingredients to avoid quality degradation. However, it may not be possible to remember the dates of when you’ve purchased the products so labeling them will help you take the guesswork out of the process.

shelf life

Shelf life icon
I think it is quite useless to have the shelf life icon on products indicating how long the product can be used when opened – as in the picture above 12M means you have 12 months until the product expires upon opening- unless we know when the product was manufacturered or when it will expire.

Manufacturing and expiration dates
I wish that all products have their manufacturing date stated on the product but as you know, this is not happening. Most of the manufacturers use batch codes which are alien language to most of us. In addition, you may know that except for natural and organic products, there are no regulations or requirements in US that require cosmetic manufacturers to print expiration dates on the labels of cosmetic products. In Europe, expiration dating are only required for products whose minimum durability is less than 30 months (source). 

Consumer responsibility
As consumers, I think the responsibility is ours to ensure that we be vigilant on what we put on our skin.  Hence, labeling your cosmetics is a start to that responsibility. 

Personally, I’ve started to label my products except for cleansers which I always use immediately and frequently.  I find it hard to remember when I purchased the product and I sometimes don’t use the product until awhile later.  What about you?

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  1. Natalie says:

    hey, i do label them ? yeah! thanks for the reminder Sesame.

    Natalie: Hey, you’re very disciplined! ?

  2. fwy says:

    Most of my products does not last more than 3 mths except for makeup. I’ll try to throw makeup away after more than 6 mths even if its not finished.

    fwy: I can’t bring myself to throw away some of the makeup sometimes…they look too pretty. ? But with skincare, I sometimes like to hoard…especially sunscreens!

  3. Marj says:

    how about Cetaphil cleansers, lotions and creams? i recently hoarded big jars of these products.

    Marj: If you’re hoarding them, best to keep a record of when you’ve purchased them. Even Cetaphil cleansers and products would have a used by date. Usually lotions and creams are to be used in 3 years. Some even shorter.

  4. BT says:

    I have a notebook that noted all the product manufacturing date, start using date and end date… to track all the info for better budget planning, ?

    BT: Wow, you’re very organized! How do you track the product manufacturing date? I wrote something about the batch codes before but it’s really not easy to figure out for some of them.

  5. Vonvon says:

    Good idea, I should start doing that too. I’ve been buying and buying but just stashing them away. Will start with my Stila’s!

    But I normally keep the items I bought together with their receipts. So the next time, I dig out something from my stash, I will know when I’ve purchased them.

    Vonvon: I keep receipts too…only to keep track of the price for blogging. ? But some the cash receipts actually fade off after awhile so I prefer to write down.

  6. pf1123 says:

    I don’t label. ?

    Nowadays, I only buy skincare that I would definately use everyday. And if there are sizes to choose from, I always get the smaller one.

    For makeup, I throw all out after 1 year. It is very wasteful last time when I only wear makeup for important functions such as weddings and D&D. But now, I’m wearing almost everyday. ?

    I’m trying to discipline myself to buy only the items I would use and use frequently. So, no alien e/s colors for me. I have too many for me to finish using in 3 yrs (expiry for powder stuff).

    If its impulse buys and I’m sure that I don’t wanna use them, I’ll just sell them on ebay.

    pf: Wow, you’re another discipline lady! I cannot resist hoarding body lotions and sunscreens…that’s my weakness. I sometimes hoard them just to test and then after awhile forget about them. Another one is makeup. I buy and rarely do I use. I only stick to a few products after awhile.

  7. Raelynn says:

    i dont label, but i write down on a notebook the dates that i open the product and when i finish using the product. like BT, it’s for budget planning and to also make sure that i dont use it past the date.

    Raelynn: Wow, all you ladies are so organized and efficient!

  8. Qin Ning says:

    I did that for my makeup stuff. It makes me feel good looking at it properly labelled! It helps in letting me know how long each stuff last me too!

    Qin Ning: Hey that’s good! You’re another organized lady!

  9. pf1123 says:

    For my skincare, I can’t afford to hoard, coz they are all so expensive!!!

    I do buy lots of makeup as well. I bought lots of MJ mascara, makeup removing liquid (my current obession), shampoos, body scrubs a while ago. But I know I would definately use them and I would rotate those cleansers.

    pf: Ya, the stuff you use are ex! Anyway, no point hoarding skin care products unless they’re on special offers and you use them quickly. But you’re good to resist temptations and buy only you need. ?

  10. Florence says:

    I do label them, I always wrote it with maker so that I can remember.

    Florence: I thought you would cos you’re sound like another organised and efficient lady! ?

  11. pf1123 says:

    I have bad experience with skincare experiments. hehehe…

    And I have a drawer full of makeup. If I buy somemore, I have no place to store them….hey good idea huh. Have a fixed place to store your makeup, like a drawer, so you don’t buy when it doesn’t fit in anymore.

    Same as my drawer for never used skincare. Its bursting and I can’t sell them fast enough on ebay. ?

    pf: Yes, that’s a good idea. I have two places to store and if I have no more place, I pile them on top of the table! ? Actually I don’t buy so many makeup but once a while I can’t resist those quick fix tools (like that High Beam you see in the pix which I hardly use and cannot sell or give away). Plus I sometimes get so that I can write reviews…

  12. prettybeautiful says:

    stickers are indeed great help. what i do is,i usually just keep the receipt of purchase and scribble the date i started using on the receipt. but i think stickers are much practical. thanks for the inspiration! ?

    prettybeautiful: You’re welcome! ? Receipts don’t work so well for me cos the paper they use is the fax paper and the prints fade after awhile.

  13. akiki says:

    this is so troublesome, but a good habit!

    Akiki: Requires a little effort yes…

  14. pf1123 says:

    Hey sesame, speaking of High Beam…I recently have a strange glow to my skin. Its light reflecting, especially on my nose after I washed my face clean. If my nose if red, I’ll be Rudolph the reindeer with his red and shiny nose.

    I totally have no idea what caused it. Whether its a product or a combination of products. But now, I have no need to use any highlighters. Or I’ll be traffic stopping with drivers blinded by the light reflection off my face. hahaha ?

    How about a Viva challenge post to ask your loyal readers to help me identify the cause??

    pf: A traffic stopping glow is good! Haha… I’ll think about the challenge…

  15. Fizz says:

    Thanks for the idea sesame! This is helpful indeed coz I’ve never label my skin care or make up products and always have difficulty in recalling when I first used them.

    Oh btw, I think ur site is great. I recently came across ur site and it has been my daily reads. Keep it up!

    Fizz: Yes, it’s difficult to remember so many dates so labeling would help ease the recalling process. Hey, thanks for your comments about my site and I appreciate you coming daily! ?

  16. Dee says:

    Sesame, I don’t label my beauty stuffs too. But normall I toss my Mascara less then 3-4 months, just to play safe while the rest depends on the smell and colouring. But since you post this one… I think is time to do it for my skincare!

    Thank you Sesame!!!

    Dee: I’m glad you’re going to take up the challenge. ? It’s okay with stuff you use daily and frequently but sometimes with product rotation, this will help us. ?

  17. Joyce says:

    i’ve been doing the same with my recent skincare purchases, i either write the date of expiry or the date of manufacture, depending on which info is available on the box packaging

    Joyce: That’s cool! Takes out the guesswork when you need to know…

  18. BT says:

    Sesame, big brands like Estee Lauder, Clinique, Chanel, DHC,Fancl, Olay, SK-ll… etc do noted the manufacturing date, else, I will try to finish the product within a year from the purchase date because any products near to expiry date (~1.5 yr less), the company normally will do stock clearance. If I’m not mistaken, google has a program to decode the manufacturing code of certain brands. Forgot the link by the way.

    BT: Hey, if you come across the program to decode the date again, please let me know. I have readers who come here sometimes asking me to help me decode but it’s not easy to figure out for some of them.

  19. BT says:

    Arr… I just remember the manufacturing date normally marked on an importer sticker on the product packaging.

    BT: I haven’t been using those brands you mentioned these few years so not too sure…but I know Fancl indicates theirs cos their products are supposed to be very fresh…

  20. Aileen says:

    Find this suggestion very useful. Thanks!

  21. sesame says:

    Great…hope you’ll take up the challenge then.

  22. Morgan says:

    Great tips. It’s hard to get rid of makeup or skin care, especially if it was expensive, but you gotta do it.I know one brand, I think it’s called enzoskin that makes products with the shelf life of 3 to 4 months, they even give you a custom card that says who it was made for, the date it was made on and the expiration date.

  23. sesame says:

    Oh a custom card? So interesting!

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