How to Read the Expiration Dates on Korean Skin Care Products

By November 7, 2017

Confused about Korean skin care expiration dates? We feel you. Let us break it down for you.

Have you ever gotten a Korean product and panicked seeing the date on the bottom, thinking you received an expired one? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s easy to forget sometimes that certain things can get lost in translation, and a big one is the expiration date. Here, we breakdown how to figure out when your Korean product expires.

Korean products can have essentially three different words on them related to expiration: 제조, 까지, and 사용기한. The 제조 character is where a lot of the confusion happens as this actually means the date in which the product was manufactured versus the actual expiration date.

So, if you get a product that says, for example, 2017.10.20 제조 and it’s already November 2017, don’t panic. This just means it was manufactured on that date. Korean products usually have a manufacture date versus an expiration so consumers can be assured in knowing they received a fresh product.

This might have you wondering: When do you know this product has expired? Well, generally, most skin care products can last 30 months on the shelf and 10-12 months after opening. The 제조 characters helps you—along with with the distributors— to keep track so you know when it’s time to throw out a product.

Some Korean products, like the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum, also have a symbol on them that looks like a cap opening with a number and the letter M inside of it:

korean skin care expiration dates

This symbol means you can use the product for that number of months after you open it before it will expire. So for those with this symbol and 제조, I’d suggest taking a marker and writing the date you open it so you can keep track on how long it has been since then. We’ve also gone in depth on how to tell when it’s time to throw out your products before, so with those tips and the date in mind, you can effectively keep track of your products.

The more official expiration date on Korean products is 까지, which basically means “until” in Korean. This character is used to indicate when products expire, with is meaning you can use them “until” a certain date. Next time you purchase a product and you want to find the expiration date just look for 까지 on the bottom and remember that expiration dates are written in the YYYY/MM/DD format. Here’s an example on the Missha First Treatment Essence Mist:

korean skin care products expiration date

Some Korean products also use another term, which is 사용기한. It means the same as 까지 but instead translates to essentially “the deadline of use,” or in other words, the expiration date. This date will also be on the bottom of the product. Sometimes the manufacture and the expiration date will both appear on the bottom, like it does on the Skinfood Black Sugar Strawberry Wash Off mask:

korean skin care expiration dates

Bottom line:

Understanding when Korean products expire can be confusing when you don’t know the language, but hopefully this will help you understand the process better now.

But do keep in mind that expiration dates are suggestions, and other factors—like where you store your product and how hygienically you use them—can affect the expiration date of a product. So, try to keep your products stored in cool, dark spaces (AKA not your bathroom) and make sure to use those scoops that come with jarred products so you can avoid as much bacteria as possible.

+How do you keep track of Korean skin care expiration dates? Let us know in the comments below.

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