We all have our favorite skincare and beauty products that we’ve had for months, maybe even years, but can’t bring ourselves to throw away. The clay face mask you’re trying to find the perfect night in to use, the eyeshadow you wore to match that dress at a wedding two years ago, the black lipstick you wore at Halloween... you’ll definitely use all these again, right?! More importantly than matching it to the right occasion, you need to think about whether it’s still safe, or beneficial to put on your skin.
What’s The Harm?
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science evaluated the makeup routines and habits of 44 women (ages 18 to 28). 70% of women in the study used some type of expired product (mostly eye makeup). When the researchers sampled the eye makeup for contamination, they found that 67% contained potentially harmful levels of microorganisms (including Staphylococcus corynebacterium and Moraxella, all common in bacterial skin infections).
“The main problem with old products is that they can decompose. The chemicals can separate and cause problems with the skin. I have seen burns and irritation from old products. They can also harbor bacteria and cause a skin infection or even worse: they can have viruses and cause a herpes outbreak,” Dr. Debra Jailman tells Dermstore. That fact alone will certainly make me think twice about using old products!
When Should I Throw A Product Out?
If you can’t spot the PAO symbol, between one to two years is a good guess for the shelf life. "While products can vary, in general, unopened products have a shelf life of approximately two years when stored properly," says Teresa Stenzel, esthetician, and director of education at Bioelements. "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."
If you don’t remember when you opened the product, follow your gut, and treat it like expired food! If it’s changed in any way, it’s probably time to throw it away. Check for any of the following signs:
1. A bad or rotten smell.
2. The product has separated.
3. The texture has changed.
4. The color has changed.
5. There are black, green, or blue mold spots.
So if you haven’t checked for all of these signs before, it might be time to ‘Marie Kondo’ your beauty and skincare products. Thank you, next!
Where To Store Your Beauty Products
The temperature of the environment can have varied effects on beauty products, so it's important to be aware of where to store them. Take a second and think about all that goes on in your bathroom for example, and you’ll realize just how nasty the place actually is! Especially when your beauty products aren’t tightly closed or sealed, the damp bathroom environment makes the perfect breeding ground for irritation or acne-causing bacteria to grow.
Another reason is that every time you take a hot shower, the heat or warm temperature can lead to certain ingredients breaking down or oxidizing faster.
Humidity is one element that can cause your beauty products to expire quicker.
Dr. Harshna Bijlani, medical head, from The AgeLess Clinic advises that the most ideal place to store your beauty products is in a cool, dry place that’s out of direct sunlight, like in a cabinet, drawer, or lidded storage box in your bedroom. Latest industry trend: skincare fridges!!