When It's Time to Toss: The Shelf Life of Your Favorite Skin Care Products

May 26, 2016
By: Jackie Burns Brisman | skincare.com by L'Oréal
When It's Time to Toss: The Shelf Life of Your Favorite Skin Care Products

Collecting—read: never, ever, ever throwing away––beauty products is a common practice among women. Whether due to boredom with a certain product, the thrill of buying something new to try, or the idea of, “I might use this one day,” some of us ladies—guilty as charged—have a hard time parting with product. But, this idea that you may use it someday can be potentially detrimental to your skin. We caught up with Dr. Michael Kaminer, board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com expert, to find out just how long you can hold onto your skin care products before it's time to unload that beauty baggage. 

The Rule of Thumb

Typically, skin care products will last between six months to one year—note the expiration dates on the packaging and use a permanent marker to mark it on the bottom of the container if it’s only on the box so you don’t forget! As well, pay attention to the directions for storage—if you take super hot showers, you may want to store your skin care in a linen closet outside of the bathroom to avoid subjecting your products to the hot temps.

Don’t Toss Unnecessarily

But before you go and prematurely toss your products to make room for new ones know this: The only reason you need to replace a product is when it’s gone bad. “That is really the only reason,” says Kaminer. “If the product still looks okay visibly, and has not passed the expiration date, then there is no reason to discard it.”

Keep Things Clean

The quickest way you can compromise your favorite skin care products before they reach their expiration date? Dipping into the container with dirty fingers. Our hands come into contact with bacteria and germs that can transfer into our skin care products. Kaminer explains that if your hands are clean you should be fine, but you may want to use a small spoon or other device—like a clean cotton swab—to remove product. While it can’t prolong the shelf life of your products, it’s simply best practice to always wash your hands before starting your skin care routine.

Note: If a product has expired, it’s time to give it a new home in the garbage. While often expired products simply aren’t effective, on occasion they can cause irritation or breakouts

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