Know your 'pao'

AKA. Period After Opening.

What is a PAO?

A PAO tells you how long your product is good for after it has been opened.

Skincare, haircare, makeup and fragrance products all have a period after opening that tells you how many months after a product has been opened that it is good for.

The little open jar symbol typically has a number with the letter 'M' followed to indicate the PAO in months. For example, "12M" means that a product is good to be used within 12 months of being opened.

Can I use a product outside of its PAO?

You really shouldn't.

And first thing's first - we do not sell opened products outside of their PAO.

A product outside of its PAO can be prone to bacteria and may not be as effective as intended because the preservatives and actives within the formula will have started to break down.

Is PAO the same as an expiry date?


While a PAO tells you how long a product is good for after it has been opened, an expiry date (or shelf life) indicates the length of time a product will remain fresh and stable despite being left unopened and kept at room temperature. Always refer to whichever date comes first.

Take the following example about a product:

The product was opened June 2022

Expiry date
September 2024

In this example, the end of the 6M PAO comes before the expiry date - therefore, the product would need to be disposed of by December 2022.

Okay, another example:

The product was opened December 2022

Expiry date
June 2024

In this example, the expiry date comes before the end of the 12M PAO - therefore, the product would need to be disposed of by June 2024.

Where can I find a product's PAO?

Typically on the back of the packaging.

Sometimes though, a brand will only put the PAO on a product's box, which means you may miss what the PAO was if you discard the box.

If you don't know your product's PAO, you can use the below guide: