What This Product Marking Means Is Blowing Everyone’s Mind

by Leah Groth
Originally Published: 
My Gedagtes/Facebook

Be prepared for enlightenment…

Expiration and “best by” labels on food products can often be misleading and utterly baffling, seeing as most of us can’t really decipher exactly what they mean. However, when it comes to beauty, cosmetics and skin self-care items the confusion can be next level. In lieu of a date, most of these items simply show an open can with a number of months next to it.

Like, what does this mean exactly? That you have x amount of months to use your hairspray before it will make your tresses fall off your head? Or that after that specified time period it just won’t hold your hair up the same way? And when, specifically, does this set time period start? Does it have more to do with when the product was formulated or when you decide to open it? So. Many. Questions.

Well, finally we can all get a good night’s sleep. There is a new meme circulating around the web, putting these questions to rest.

“How old were you when you found out…that this means how long you have to use that product from the date you break the seal before it’s no longer considered a “good product,” reads the caption, upon a photo of two bottles with the open can thingy circled.

Perhaps you are one of the special people who has been bestowing this knowledge since you snagged your first bottle of Aqua Net from your granny. Seriously, good for you. However, this tidbit of knowledge is literally changing lives on social media, because the rest of us have been in the dark. For so damn long.

Some individuals commented that they had gone 45, 48, and 64 years before being gifted with this epiphany. Others noted they learned recently, courtesy of makeup artist Jeffree Star. Regardless, you aren’t the only one who has been in the dark for a very long time.

Here’s the official word: The Food and Drug Administration (aka the FDA) does not require manufacturers to put an expiration date on products. “However, manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are safe,” they explain. “FDA considers determining a product’s shelf life to be part of the manufacturer’s responsibility.”

They go on to explain that a “product’s ‘shelf life’ generally means the length of time you can expect a product to look and act as expected and to stay safe for use. This length of time varies, depending on the type of product, how it is used, and how it is stored.” And yeah, the open can is supposed to suggest that the specified period of time starts after you pop the lid.

However, keep in mind that there are a variety of factors that can influence how long a product will remain good. For example, if you have an eye infection and have been using a tube of mascara, you probably want to toss it ASAP. Also, some products can dry out if you fail to store them properly or even start forming bacteria. Some people are obsessed with skincare fridges for this very reason. So if you accidentally forget to put a lid on, you might want to consider getting rid of something sooner rather than later. Also, be wary of where you buy your products. If you are buying from eBay or an unlicensed buyer, there is no guarantee what you are getting.

This article was originally published on