Product Labelling - Minimum Shelf Life

Product Labelling - Minimum Shelf Life

The product labelling displayed on most cosmetic packaging look very similar and the reason is quite simple: it is required by law. Alongside information about the country of origin, the nominal capacity and possible precautions, there are also details regarding the shelf life of a product. This can be split into two varieties. Let's have a closer look at the two categories. 

Minimum Shelf Life

According to EU regulations, cosmetic products must display information about their shelf life if it does not exceed thirty months when stored. The minimum shelf life is usually shown using an hourglass symbol, specifying the appropriate date.

The minimum shelf life indicates how long the product retains its function and structure when stored correctly. However, this is not in regard to a product's expiration date. A product can therefore easily be used without any hazardous effects after this period has come to an end. 

Period of Use 

The period of use applies to products that are durable for longer than 30 months when stored correctly, and from the date on which the product is opened. The period of use is generally symbolized using an image of an opened cream jar, whereby the number indicates the how many months the product can be used for after it has been opened.

It is quite easy to identify whether or not a product is still fit to be used. When answering "yes" to any of the three questions below, the product in question should be disposed of:

  • Have the individual components separated?

  • Does the product look different? If so, which visual defects have occurred?

  • Does the product smell "off"?


  1. Some products spoil without showing significant changes.

  2. When it comes to natural cosmetics the individual components may generally appear separate and only blend once the contents are shaken. In such cases, this information will be found on the packaging or noted under the directions of use.