How to Tell if Your Skin-Care Products Are Expired
They say that all good things come to an end, and we’re here to break the news to you that this also goes for skin-care products. And we get it: it’s never going to be simple to part with that expensive eye cream you were never able to finish up, but that doesn’t make it any less of a must.
Eventually, everything in your skin-care collection expires, and while it’s unfortunate that your favorite face creams and products can’t last forever, you’ll need to get rid of those expired products before they negatively impact your skin. If you aren’t convinced your decades-old serums are really ready to be tossed, here’s why you may want to reconsider.
Why Expired Skin-Care Products Need to Go
According to the FDA, a product’s shelf life refers to the length of time you can expect a product to look and act as expected and stay safe to use. Once your products have expired, no matter how much you may have left to use up, they lose their effectiveness. That means at the very least, you’re coating your complexion with something that isn’t delivering the benefits you seek. Of course, the effects of using expired products can be worse than a loss of potency, including irritation and breakouts. Better safe than sorry, A.K.A., it’s time to trash anything out of date.
When You Should Toss ’Em
Beauty products aren’t always handily marked with an expiration date like your bread and butter, which means it may not be so obvious when you should ditch your products. The general guideline you should know is that skin-care products typically last for six months to one year. If you’re outside of that window, it may be time for some spring (or summer, or fall or winter) cleaning.
How Can You Tell If a Product Has Expired?
If you aren’t exactly sure when time is up for your products, the first thing you can do when going through your skin-care collection is to put your senses of smell and sight to good use. If a product smells or looks off, it’s a sure sign that you should part ways with it.
Another helpful hint is to try flipping products over and perusing the bottoms of the bottles for the lifetime of the product, whether it’s a lotion, sunscreen, moisturizer, soap or serum. You’ll often find a small icon that looks like an open jar with a number inside. The number indicates how many months a product lasts after opening it. As long as you know when you first opened the product, you can use that number as a helpful guide. Certain products, like sunscreens and sunblocks for instance, have more specific expiration dates to follow. This is also the case for active cosmetics, like acne-products and anti-aging products, as well as eye creams.
If you have not opened the skin-care product and it’s past its PAO (period after opening) date, we recommend opening it up and inspecting the formula to see if there is a change in texture, color or smell. If so, we recommend tossing it and even if it looks relatively okay, you might want to dispose of it unless the packaging recommends otherwise.
How to Extend the Longevity of Your Products
No matter how long a product should last, if you don’t handle them properly, it can impact the shelf life by causing them to break down and degrade at a faster pace. A few common culprits confirmed by the FDA are dipping your fingers directly into face cream and mask jars, using unhygienic applicators and exposing products to moisture and/or extreme temperature changes.
While we can’t offer you any tips that will make a product last past its expiration date, there are a few things you can do to avoid decreasing their shelf life. To start, don’t stick your fingers into your products. The bacteria on your hands can mix into your skin care, and there’s no coming back from that. Use applicators and spatulas that are regularly cleaned to apply product instead. Also, be sure to store your products properly. The bathroom or shower may seem like an obvious spot for some of your skin-care products, but the heat and moisture may impact certain formulations. Instead, store products in a dry, cool space with a consistent temperature, which is a better fit.
Photo Credit: Chaunte Vaughn