How Long Should Your Skincare Products Last?
Nothing lasts forever, especially when it comes to skincare products. Too bad, because many of them are expensive. However, using some skincare products past their prime can cause more serious problems. For example, some active ingredients like glycolic fruit acids may get stronger as they age and could damage your skin.
Unfortunately, most skincare products do not come with an expiration date and knowing when to replace these products isn’t always easy to determine. To complicate things even more, the actual shelf life can depend on when products are opened and how they’re stored.
Expiration Guidelines for Skincare Products
Spoiled beauty and skincare products can cause irritation, allergic reactions and even infection. Maintaining healthy skin means updating your products on a regular basis using these guidelines.
Ampoules: Single Use Only
All ampoules should be used immediately upon opening. These are ‘single use’ products that typically contain Vitamin C or E or other ingredients that oxidize upon exposure to the air. If you do not use the entire ampoule upon opening, discard the rest of the product.
Hydroquinone Creams: Two-Three Months
Hydroquinone creams are used to lighten the skin and is a common treatment for those is Melasma. This product usually turns brown after about two months. When that happens, it’s time to replace the product. For longer lasting results, choose an airtight pump and store it in a refrigerator – these measures will add another month to the life of the product.
Moisturizers: One year
Moisturizer will last longest in a tube or bottle with a pump dispenser as opposed to a jar. Products in jars are susceptible to contamination from dipping the fingers in the jar repeatedly. If listed, pay attention to expiration dates – using an expired moisturizer over time can give you a rash or infection, especially if your moisturizer contains alpha hydroxy acids. Finally, no matter how much time has passed, toss your moisturizer if you notice a change in consistency or smell.
Retinoid Creams: Nine to Eleven Months
The active ingredient(Vitamin A) in these collagen stimulating products begin to loose potency after nine to eleven months
Sunscreens: One year
Most people purchase sunscreen during the summer months and finish the product during that time. Others tend to keep old sunscreen well past the season.
Like all creams, sunscreen is susceptible to oxidation. Exposing the cream to air causes water to evaporate and the product to break down, which can ultimately make the formula unstable and ineffective. Store sunscreen in a dark, cool place, and when on the beach, replace the cap and avoid leaving the sunscreen in direct sunlight.
Acne Products: Four to Six Months
Active ingredients in acne products like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid deteriorate quickly after opening. Store acne creams away from direct heat and light to prolong shelf life. Any change in smell, color or consistency is a sign that the product has reached its peak.
Wipe or Swipe Pads: Two Months
These handy wipes are so convenient, but they can begin to dry out soon after opening. If stored in a cool place in a tightly sealed container, your wipe or swipe product should last about two months.
Peels and Masks: Three Months
In these products, the buffering agents can start to evaporate over time, making the active ingredients such as glycolic and fruit acids more potent and therefore potentially more irritating than intended.
Scrubs and Grainy Exfoliants: Two years
Unless the scrub contains fruit acids of any type, these products are pretty stable and can last up to two years. The only issue is that an open jar can become a breeding ground for bacteria over time. Avoid using fingers to get the product out – try using a cosmetic spatula or similar object to remove the product.
Natural and Organic Products: Three to Six Months
Keep in mind that many of these products contain ingredients that are chemical free so they spoil faster, or use different types of preservatives than traditional products. In many cases there are no preservatives at all. This means that your product might have a shorter shelf life than you anticipated. The rule of thumb? Use within three to six months. Watch for changes in smell, color and consistency.
Tips on Extending Shelf Life
You can often safely store unopened skincare products or cosmetics for a long time in a dark, cool place, such as a drawer or closet. However, once a product has been opened and used, oxidation begins and bacteria can spread.
To protect your products from going bad, follow these general tips:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before using any product.
- Avoiding putting fingers directly into a jar or bottle. Instead, use a clean cotton swab or cosmetic spatula to remove the product.
- Opt for products that come in pumps or jars, which prevents air from getting into the product.
- Close jar and container lids tightly between uses.
- To minimize exposure to water and moisture, don’t leave skincare products in the shower.
Tips for Preserving the Life of Makeup
- Keep makeup out of the bathroom. Bathrooms can become very humid — the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mold or yeast.
- Don’t leave makeup in the car. It can spoil or melt from the heat and sunlight.
- Don’t share your makeup or skincare products.
- Throw away eye and lip products if you’ve recently had an eye infection or a cold sore — bacteria can live on the product’s surface.
- Sharpen eye and lip pencils after every use.
- Keep tools such as makeup brushes and pencil sharpeners fresh and bacteria-free by cleaning them frequently.
Don’t forget that other countries have different regulations about the chemicals and preservatives allowed in cosmetics and beauty products, so these guidelines only apply to formulations made and sold in the United States.