How to Read Expiration Dates on Korean Cosmetic Products

If you’re super anal like me, perhaps you like to keep your cosmetics in order by expiration dates. However, sometimes it is difficult to read or understand the expiration dates on Korean cosmetics. This is because sometimes the actual expiration date isn’t added on to the packaging. Usually many companies will just add the manufacture date.

The Korean word “제조” means the manufactured date.

The Korean word “까지” means the expiration date.

*These are also the words for ALL things produced in Korea. Therefore if you live in Korea like me and you’re wondering when your food will go bad, look for these same words*

Here are some examples of dates on various products I have at home. Let’s take a look to see when they’ll expire!

How To Read KBEAUTY Expiration Dates

This is a fixing spray that I put on after I finish my makeup. Here it says 제조 20140717, which means it was manufactured on July 17th, 2014. On the bottle it also includes the following image:

How To Read KBEAUTY Expiration Dates

Here I circled in red what seems to be a compact with its lid off. This symbol means that the product should not expire for 12M (12 months or 1 year) after you open it.

I’ve been seeing this symbol more often on cosmetic product packaging. I believe companies are doing this so that it makes it easier for us buyers to determine how long a product will last once we open it.

How To Read KBEAUTY Expiration Dates

Here is the backside of my CC cream. It clearly has “EXP” for identifying the expiration date, which is January 17th, 2019. It also has 까지, which means expiration in Korean. The symbol for how long the product will last after being opened is also present on this product’s packaging.

How To Read KBEAUTY Expiration Dates

This product gives us the manufacture date (제조), but it doesn’t tell us WHEN the product actually expires. How are we supposed to know how long this product will last? All it says is “개봉 후 즉시 사용,” which means to “Use right away after opening.” However, how long will it last BEFORE we open it?

In an episode of a popular Korean beauty television show, After School’s Beauty Bible, that aired on May 9, 2014, the show displayed a chart to help people estimate when certain cosmetic products would expire if they only had the manufacture date displayed. They also tell you how quickly you should use a product after you have opened it.

How To Read KBEAUTY Expiration Dates

For those of you that can’t read Korean, don’t despair! Here is an English translation of the chart.

How To Read KBEAUTY Expiration Dates

How do I get rid of the packaging after I’m done with a product?

This is a common question that many of us probably ask ourselves. There are a few ways you can go by doing this:

  • If you live in Korea, many cosmetic shops are starting to have recycling bins in the store for people to dispose of their empty tubs, tubes, and bottles.
  • If you don’t live in Korea or you just don’t have time to go to the shop every time your product runs out, fear not! Many of the products will have the recycling symbol on the packaging somewhere, so you can just dispose of it in the proper recycling bin.
  • If there is no recycling symbol and you don’t think the packaging falls into any of your recycling bins, then you can just toss it in your regular trash.

Having this information is extremely helpful if you’re buying Korean cosmetics online. Sometimes we don’t know how long products have been in stock, so having this information will make it easier to help you determine how long your new purchase will last. Lastly, even if you’re not fluent in Korean, I hope you can use this article to help you become more confident in reading the expiration dates on your Korean cosmetics.