What Happens When You Use Expired Skin-Care Products?

October 03, 2019
Margaret Fisher
By: Margaret Fisher | skincare.com by L'Oréal
What Happens When You Use Expired Skin-Care Products?

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 and beauty 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 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 Better safe than sorry, A.K.A., it’s time to trash anything out of date.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. 

If you aren’t sure exactly when time is up for yours, the first thing you can do when attempting to clear out and clean up 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. You’ll often find an image of an open jar with a number inside, that indicates how many months a product should last. As long as you know when you first opened the product, you can use that number as a helpful guide. Certain products, like sunscreens for instance, have more specific expiration dates to follow. 

How to Extend the Longevity of Your Products 

No matter how long a product should last, if you don’t handle properly, it can impact the shelf life of your skin-care products, potentially causing them to break down and degrade at a faster pace. A few common culprits, confirmed by the FDA: 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 with, 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. Now go forth and Marie-Kondo your stash. 


Read More:
Vitamin C Serums Our Editors Love
Is Coconut Oil Good for Your Skin?
How to Treat Acne Depending on Your Age

Read more

Back to top