Updated: Apr 17
It should come as a no surprise that just like food, skincare has a shelf life as well. It's imperative to toss old skin care, but most people don't know when their products have spoiled. Here's a few tips to learn about skin care shelf life.
Bacteria that is invisible to the eye can thrive in products that are past their prime, especially it hot humid conditions like that of your bathroom. Failing to throw away old products runs the risk that they will become contaminated with bacteria. Applied to your skin, this bacteria could cause irritation, rashes, blemishes and even skin infections.
Even if your product doesn't become contaminated, its active ingredients become ineffective as time goes by. This is especially true with products that are designed to protect the skin such as broad spectrum sunscreens.
Over the counter (such as SPFs and most acne treatments) make it easy to know when they will expire as they list an expiration date on the back of the package. If they are expired, throw them away asap.
The expiry date indicates when the active ingredients in your product will become ineffective. So if you use these past the expiration date, the products won't be as effective at delivering their promised results. If you use your sunscreen past its date, you leave your skin vulnerable to UV damage, premature aging, hyperpigmentation, dehydration, and even skin cancer. Be vigilant.
Unopened skin care products will last longer than opened products because they won't be exposed to bacteria. Keep note of when you purchased your skin care and when you first opened it. Generally speaking, unopened skincare can last from one to three years. Once opened, you should use a product as directed and within one year.
Be sure to throw away a product if it seems discolored, develops a strange odor, or the consistency changes. This is a tell-tale that it has turned.
To avoid contamination is to use a spatula (many brands provide these in the box). These are small plastic applicators that you can use to scoop the product onto your hand instead of sticking your fingers into the jar.
This minimizes the risk of contamination, even when you wash your hands there could be lingering bacteria. Some products come with pumps, love these, as they help keep unwanted bacteria out.
Always make sure to wash your hands before using products, even if you use a spatula or a pump to help lessen the risk of contamination even more.
Ultimately your skincare products are meant to be used on a regular basis, until you've reached the bottom of the container or squeeze the last drop out of bottle.