Expiration date and PAO for Cosmetics

One of the crucial requirements towards cosmetic products is their safety for human health. The core element of the cosmetic safety compliance is the Safety Assessment, which includes (among others) stability testing. This specific test is aimed at evaluating the shelf life of the finished products or their Period After Opening (PAO).

According to the EU Cosmetics Regulation EC 1223/2009 if the shelf life is lower than 30 months, an expiration date must be indicated on the packaging of the product.

On the other hand, if the shelf life is longer than 30 months, no indication of expiration date is necessary on the packaging. In this case, the Period After Opening (PAO) is mandatory.

The PAO corresponds to the period during which the product is stable and can be used without posing any risk to the human health after opening. Therefore, it includes a de facto assessment of the stability of the product towards the risk of the microbial contamination, following the first use.

Ideally, after this period of time, a microbial control of the product and the new preservative efficacy test (challenge test) should be performed.

The PAO determination also takes into account the type of product and its claim. For example, a reduced PAO is required for cosmetics applicable on the sensitive body parts (e.g. around the eyes) or on specific consumer groups (e.g. children under 3 years).

The PAO is indicated onto the packaging with this ISO symbol , and the following symbol anticipates the expiration date:

Should you still have doubts about what should be actually present on your product’s label, Obelis Experts would be glad to assist you with our 30 years’ expertise on Cosmetics compliance. Obelis Team provides also dedicated services regarding Labelling, such as translation and design. Do not hesitate to contact us!

Davide Turchi

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