Things You should Know About Your Skin Products
It’s a sad scenario and one many of us never wish to be faced with: having to toss our skincare products. Which is especially hard if we paid more than a few pretty pennies for that bottle, or if we just really, really love that particular item. While we may be tempted to hold onto products until they’re gone, or if we’re just bargaining with the idea that we’ll “use them again someday,” hanging on to skincare items like toners, moisturizers, and SPF can come with a price of its own, and according to the experts, it simply isn’t worth it.
When Do Products Expire Once Opened?
Most products have a shelf life of two to three years. There are a number of variables that indicate how quickly a product will expire, including the ingredients, and any preservatives used in the formula. Additionally, the shelf life and expiration date aren’t the same thing—the clock starts ticking on the expiration date of your product the moment you open it. Look for the PAO—or period after opening—label. The symbol looks like an open jar. It indicates the shelf life of the product once it’s been opened, which is typically between six months to one year.”
Opened toners tend to last for a little less time than some other skincare products, and it’s generally recommended that you replace them after about a year from opening. If your toner contains exfoliants, like AHAs, like glycolic or citric acid, or BHAs, like salicylic acid, it’s important to keep this timeframe in mind, as extended use can result in dryness or irritation of the skin. According to the FDA, acids, especially AHAs, can result in extreme skin sensitivity to sun exposure, and products are only deemed safe for consumers when measuring a pH of 3.5 or greater. Over time, the pH of products may shift, which can lead to damage to the skin.
Serum and Moisturizer
These products tend to last for around a year from opening, give or take, depending on the formula and ingredients used. Products containing essential oils, for example, may burn out quicker than others as these oils will degrade over time, especially when stored incorrectly according to a 2018 study, which can make them less effective. If you aren’t sure if your serum or moisturizer is expired, keep tabs on how well your skin reacts to it compared to when you first started using it—often, expired moisturizers won’t be near as hydrating. Additionally, changes in the texture (like separation) or shifts in the odor of your product can indicate that it may be time to renew.
When do face masks expire? Generally, masks expire in about one to two years from opening, depending on the active ingredients used. Clay masks may possibly dry out on the shorter end of that estimate, depending on the type of mask it is, and masks that contain unstable ingredients, like vitamins C and E, degrade over time and may result in less efficacy. The good news, however, is that a mask made with activated charcoal will not expire if it hasn’t made contact with air, so as long as you keep it closed, you’ll be good until you’re ready to use it. To keep your masks fresher for longer, try using a spoon or spatula to dip them into the mix, which will prevent the transfer of bacteria from your hands, and keep sheet masks in the refrigerator, which may add a little extra time to their shelf life.
Opened cleansers can last up to two years in some cases, although many sources suggest tossing it around the one-year mark. Some cleansers, like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, is formulated to be “shelf-stable” to last for years as long as it’s not exposed to extreme temps, and has no expiration date. To be sure, check that PAO on your package so you’ll know when to toss, if needed.
While some people may get a little extra time out of certain skincare favorites, even against professional advice, there is one staple that should absolutely be tossed once it reaches that use-by date. “If there’s absolutely one product to stay on top of for shelf life, it’s sunscreen. Don’t try to save a buck and use sunscreen from last summer that just recently expired,”. Why? Because, unlike other products, sunscreen has been proven effective at preventing skin cancer, which may be fatal in some cases. “It’s really not worth risking skin cancer. Don’t do it!” she adds. Every sunscreen is marked with an expiration date, so be sure to keep that date in mind to keep your skin, and yourself, healthy.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Expired Products
So, we know when products expire, but is it really that big of a deal to keep using them after that time is up? According to the experts, some side effects of using expired products are more harmful than others, but they will all produce unwanted effects over time, even if that just means they become ineffective. “The shelf-life marks the time span that a formula will hold up in terms of formula stability, compatibility, and preservatives,.
“After you go past the tested shelf life, formulas can start to get gross and preservatives aren’t as effective, which opens your skin up to unwanted microbe contamination. Microbial contamination can lead to anything from irritation, breakouts, and in really bad cases even infection.”
While we can’t control the effects of time, there are some measures we can take to get the most out of our skincare products. Spatulas, droppers, and anything that will keep our hands from t So, how long do skincare products really last? We spoke with Teresa Stenzel, esthetician, and director of education at Bioelements, for more on the ins and outs of product shelf life.
Ouching the products before it reaches our skin will go a long way in preventing bacterial contamination. Storing our products correctly will keep them in their best form as well—for the most part, keeping products away from extreme temperatures and away from exposure to direct sunlight can help keep their ingredients stable, especially in terms of oils. Finally, to make no mistakes about your PAO date, write the date you opened it on the bottom of the package in permanent marker.
The Shelf Life Of Your Skincare Products
So many skincare products, so little time. Really, it’s easy to become obsessed with all the delectable offerings promising smooth, glowing skin. But there is a downside to having a robust skincare arsenal: the products don’t last forever.
The Shelf Life of Skin Care
For most skin and body care products, there’s an easy way to find out how long the shelf life is. Simply look on the container for a tiny image of an opened jar with a number on it: six, 12, 24, or 36. This refers to the number of months you can use a product after you’ve opened it. My mind is blown, right?
If the product doesn’t have this symbol on the container, one-to-two years is a good rule of thumb for the shelf life, unless otherwise stated on the packaging. “While products can vary, in general, unopened products have a shelf life of approximately two years when stored properly,”. “After a product is opened, it should be used as directed, within one year. Of course, this does not apply to over-the-counter products like sunscreens or acne formulas, which will have an expiration date listed on the packaging.”
Use your best judgment—if you think it’s time to toss it, it probably is. You’ll know it if you notice the following signs:
A bad or rotten smell
The product has separated
The texture has changed
The color has changed
There are black, green, or blue mold spots
A word about preservatives: There are many small, independent skincare companies these days that sell products directly to consumers. Many of these, as well as organic products in general, do not use preservatives. In these cases, the products have very short shelf lives, especially if they’re packaged in jars. Consider storing these in the refrigerator, and use them quickly.
When to Throw a Product Out
Certain products are required by the FDA to have an expiration date on them, including sunscreens and acne treatments that contain active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Toss any sunscreen or anti-acne treatments that are past their expiration dates.
Products that contain acids should not be kept beyond their expiration dates, since acids actually become stronger and potentially more irritating over time.
Any item that’s packaged as a single-use product—usually called an ampoule—needs to be tossed immediately after the first use, even if there are leftovers.
Holding on to a product past its expiration date can wreak havoc on your skin. “If you don’t finish your product within one year, several things can happen,. “First, invisible bacteria can thrive in old products, especially in a humid environment like your bathroom. If applied to the skin, this bacteria can cause irritation, rashes, or breakouts.”
Every time you stick your finger in a jar of skincare, you’re contaminating it. “I recommend that you always make sure your hands are clean when applying skin care, to help lessen the risk of contamination. It’s just good hygiene.”
In addition to the health concerns, It is important to note that a product simply won’t be as effective over time—yet another reason to ditch it. “The active ingredients won’t be as active. So throw it out. And really, if your exfoliating mask or vitamin C serum is still hanging around in your bathroom after a year, that means you probably didn’t love it, right?”
How to Store Products So They Last Longer
An unopened product that’s still sealed usually has a shelf life of at least three to five years. However, this timeframe is shortened if the item is stored in a sunny, hot, or humid environment. Keep your skincare in a cool, dry place—ideally not in the bathroom.
Make sure water does not get into the container, as mold may develop over time. Also, it’s best to buy products that are in sealed containers like pumps instead of jars, as they tend to have a longer shelf life.
Wash your hands before applying any skincare to your face or body so that you don’t get dirt or bacteria into the product. You can use a clean spatula or a baby spoon to keep the container free of contaminants.