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Are your skin care products expired?

Updated on December 13, 2009

Do skin care products have an expiration date?

From what I know and read, most products should be used within 3 years of leaving the factory. Continuing use after 3 years is not generally recommended, partly because the proposed effect usually diminish after 3 years, but also because it increases your risk of contamination from bacteria. Eye care products have an even shorter shelf life, usually under 2 years.

So how do you find out when the product was manufactured? By looking at the batch codes on the package:

Brands under the Estee Lauder group (such as MAC, Estee Lauder, Origins, Clinque, and La Mer) uses a 3 character code: 1 letter + 1 digit (or letter) + 1 digit. The first letter refers to the location, second digit or letter refers to the months of the year, and the last digit denotes the year (1=2001, 2=2002, etc)

Brands under the L'oreal group (including Biotherm, L'oreal, Helen Rubinstein, Lancome, Kiehl and the Body shop) uses a letter + number code (eg. XD278). The letter refers to the year (from A to Y because the letter Z is skipped). For example, year 2004 is A, year 2005 is B, and year 2003 is Y. The numbers after the letter represent the day in that particular year. As such, D278 represents the 278th day in 2007, which means that the products was manufactured on Oct 5th, 2007.

Christina Dior has a string of numbers on the package but only the first 2 characters are important. The first character is a digit, representing the year of production. The second character is a letter (from A to M, excluding the letter I) which indicates the month (Jan is A and Dec is M)

There is a website Cosmetics Wizard that helps you calculate the production date of 27 brands of cosmetics. Although it's very limited, but with growth usage, it will probably expand to include more brands.


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      miao 3 years ago

      For Kiehl's 18K902 implies it was manufactured at Sep 2013. The average shell life for cosmetics are 3 years.

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      3 years ago

      18K902 can't find anywhere - kiehl's

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      sama 4 years ago


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      yunmi Jo 6 years ago

      expired date

      strivectin-sd eye cream

      8 17777 00220 1

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      yunmi Jo 6 years ago


      17777 00220

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      Wendy 7 years ago

      There is one more website, which also can calculate the production date of cosmetics. It has more wide brands range and for me its result are more actual.