Shelf Life and PAO

edited August 2016 in Ask the Beauty Brains
Hi Guys!  Firstly let me say thank you for the valuable information you provide.  I discovered your podcast by accident, but have been binge listening ever since! I enjoy it so much, I bought your book yesterday from the iTunes store.

My question has to do with confusing info from the manufacturer (Clinique).  I recently bought two bottles of their Turnaround Revitalizing Lotion, which are nice big bottles.  I put one into storage and one is in use.  

Here is my concern:  Apparently many of their products have a 36 month shelf life from date of manufacture.  In this case that was Aug 2014.  The PAO symbol indicates best if used within 24 months.  

I'm trying to clarify if I only open the second bottle towards the end of the 36 months, is the product life extended another 24 months from then?  (to me this seems like there is a potential 5 years to use up these two bottles from the manufacture date - can that be right?)

I've pasted the email correspondence I have received from Clinique below:

Dear Valued Consumer,

Thank you for your interest in Clinique.

Unopened products should be good for at least three years under normal use conditions provided they are not exposed to extreme heat or cold. You may not be aware that some products have a period after opening symbol on its packaging. The symbol is an open jar with a number and the letter “M” on the jar. This informs the consumer of the number of months after opening during which the product should be fully used or replaced.

Shelf-life refers to the period of time an unopened product maintains its integrity.

The PAO number indicates the number of months within which an opened product should be used or replaced. To further clarify, once a product is opened and used, its integrity can be affected by such things as exposure to environmental conditions or from contact with the user’s skin. 

We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your question, and sincerely hope we were able to be of assistance. You are valued as our consumer and we hope you will continue to use and enjoy our products with confidence and satisfaction.

Part 2:  The site mentions the poor packaging choice of a clear bottle due to the ingredients being light sensitive.  I've been sneaking this bottle out of the box daily which is quite a pain. 

Here is the link to that review:

Can you comment on the effect of light exposure for this ingredient list:

Water, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Propanediol, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Centella Asiatica (Hydrocotyl) Extract, Caffeine, Bifida Ferment, Acetyl Glucosamine, Lactobacillus Ferment, Creatine, Ergothioneine, Adenosine Phosphate, Punica Granatum Fruit Juice, Acetyl Carnitine HCL, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, PEG-8, PPG-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Trehalose, Hexlyene Glycol, Yeast Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyquaternium-51, Butylene Glycol, Tromethamine, Trisodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol.

Thank you in advance, 

Angela C
Winnipeg, MB Canada


  • edited August 2016
    Hi Angela. Thanks for joining Beauty Brains fandom and for the thoughtful question. Here are my thoughts in response. 

    First of all, the shelf life and PAO are not additive. A product with a three year shelf life and a 2 year PAO will not necessarily last for 5 years. The shelf life is the rate limiting factor so strictly speaking, the product will be good for 3 years from the date of manufacturer regardless of when you open it or how long the PAO is. Having said that, remember that the shelf life timing is a guideline based on stability testing and it can vary dramatically from product to product. Companies will always err on the safe side when stating shelf life even though products may last much longer. 

    Second, yes, Paula is right about clear bottles being bad for product stability due to exposure to light Again, it depends on the product type.   

    Third, off hand I don't see anything highly light sensitive in this product but that's partly because I don't see any proven active ingredients at all. I'm curious: what benefits are you looking for and what do think this product is doing for you?   
  • Yay! I knew I was right, how could it be additive? - Would you mind calling the folks at Clinique to explain it to them? Seriously though, thank you very much for your reply. I like this particular product because I find it moisturizing enough for my sensitive yet oily skin. Especially used over sunscreen or Stieva-A. I really can't tolerate a thick lotion and this goes on like a toner without adding a greasy slick to my face. Thanks again, Angela
  • edited August 2016
    I just thought of another way to express this: PAO can shorten the shelf life of a product but it can never extend it. 

    Also, Angela, if you haven't already you can really help us out by writing a review of our podcast on iTunes. Thanks!!
  • edited August 2016
    Will do Randy - Scary to think the manufacturers call centre staff would be so untrained to actually say the words " if you open this product on the last day (of the 36 mo shelf life) it is still good for another 24 months (or whatever amount is ion the PAO symbol - well she called it a "open tuna fish can looking symbol"). It is nice knowing consumers have a direct outlet to the truth about cosmeceuticals because of The Beauty Brains. Thanks again!
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