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Do Ampoules Expire? How Long Do They Last?

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Ampoules have been a K-beauty staple for ages. But they’re now becoming one of the hottest trends in skincare on this continent. It’s easy to see why these fun-sized little capsules of highly concentrated active ingredients that give your skin a boost of whatever it needs are so popular.

Ampoules are named because of the single-use vessel they are packaged in.

Because they are single-use, you don’t have to worry about how long the product will last after you open it. But do ampoules expire? You may be wondering how long you can keep the unopened ampoules in your beauty cabinet before you have to throw them away.

We’ve put together this article to look at how to handle ampoules, and how long they last.


Do Ampoules Expire?

Vichy Ampoules

The short answer is: everything eventually expires – ampoules included. Ampoules don’t last as long as other cosmetics, unfortunately. And you shouldn’t use them if they’re significantly past expiration.


How long will ampoules last before opening?

Snail Repair Ampoules

Because ampoules usually contain very few ingredients and usually no preservatives, they tend to have a much shorter shelf life than the average 2-3 years of other unopened skincare products.

Generally speaking, ampoules should probably last unopened for about 6-months to a year, but it will really depend on the active ingredients in your ampoule.

The easiest way to see how long of a shelf life your ampoule has before opening is to check the expiry date.

Now technically, the US Food & Drug Administration does not require manufacturers to label all skincare products with an expiry or PAO date.

Sigh.

However, the FDA does hold manufacturers responsible for ensuring their products are safe for consumers. Putting an expiry or PAO date is considered part of that responsibility, so most products should have one or the other.

Cosmetics and skincare products often have a PAO (period after opening), instead of an expiry date. This tells you how many months you have to use a product after you’ve opened it.

Since ampoules are one-dose packages and you use the contents immediately after opening, they should have an expiry or ‘use by’ date instead.

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Help! My Ampoule brand is Korean – I can’t read the expiry date!

With the surging popularity of K-beauty in North America, ampoules have only recently come to the forefront of skincare trends in this hemisphere.

But ampoules have long been used in Korean beauty skincare regimes, which focus less on layering heavy makeup and more on toning and clarifying.

Because the K- beauty trend has caught on, most North American and European cosmetic and skincare product manufacturers have developed their own versions of K-products. But there are those who figure – you wouldn’t go to an Italian restaurant to get sushi, so why not get my K-beauty supplies direct from the source!

That’s all fine and well, but you now find yourself searching for an expiry date on a label that’s written in Korean. Now what?

Not to worry! While the characters might be in Korean, at least the dates are regular numbers. Korean cosmetic and skincare labels usually have two dates – a manufacturing date and an expiry date, which may also be called a Use By date.

Because there are two dates, it may be hard to tell which is which, but have a look below to see the translations.

Manufacturing date:

Expiry date:

Use by date:

Now the Korean characters aren’t the only thing that may be confusing. They often have the dates represented in a long string of unbroken numbers.

Then if you add to that most Asian countries write their dates with the year, followed by the month, then the day, it makes it even more confusing.

Once you’ve figured out which set of characters is the use by or expiry date, it may be followed by something that looks like this: 20220308.

What looks like a random bunch of numbers is actually the date in this format: YYYY/MM/DD.


Why you shouldn’t use expired ampoules

Using any skin care product after its prime might not seem like such a big deal. But using expired ampoules that you found while cleaning out the bathroom cabinet that you forgot you even had, is not a not good idea for two reasons.

For one, most of the active ingredients in ampoules become less effective after a period of time.

There is no sense in using a product if it doesn’t work anymore.

The second reason is that ampoules that contain any type of acid, like hyaluronic acid for example, which is a popular active ingredient in a lot of ampoules, can actually become stronger over time.

Especially considering that an ampoule contains an already high concentration of its active ingredients, if it becomes stronger, it could cause irritation, rash, or a burning sensation.


Take Away

If you’d been wondering – Do ampoules expire? The answer is, yes, they expire. That length of time will depend on what’s inside the ampoule. The best way to find out if it will be safe and effective to use is to check for an expiry date on the product packaging.

And don’t use ampoules past their expiry date!

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