Do Unopened Skincare Products Expire?

It’s undeniably a strange world we live in right now, but I can’t help but feel overjoyed when I see so many of you pampering and taking care of yourselves. Studies have shown that sales of personal care products have skyrocketed, and for good reason – there’s nothing more exhilarating than feeling content and relaxed in your own skin. With that in mind, I was curious if any of you had the same experience as I did and decided to dig out all the products you thought were “too special” to use. For me, it was an extremely expensive and luxurious moisturizer that I bought for Christmas about a million years ago. I thought there couldn’t be a better time than now, opened it up only to discover that it was actually expired… I was so upset that I locked the product away instead of using it. So today I’m digging a little deeper to see which skincare products expire, how to prevent them from expiring prematurely, and how long they can last before they unfortunately end up in the trash.

How long can unopened skincare products last?

If you pick up any skin or body care product and look at the packaging, you’ll find a little icon that looks like a jar with the lid peeling off at the top. In the middle of the jar is a number between 6, 12, 24, 36 or 48. This number represents how many months you have to use the product after it’s been opened before it goes bad. Using expired products can cause skin irritation and may be less effective for people with sensitive skin. Some active ingredients, like vitamin C and salicylic acid, remain effective for a period of time, but then completely lose their effectiveness.

Now you may be wondering how long you’ll need to use unopened skincare products (especially after I told you my moisturizer horror story!), but unopened skincare products can generally last between 3-5 years if stored properly.

As a rule of thumb, unopened products can last up to five years as long as you do the following:

Store all skincare products in a cool, dark place - a dresser drawer is ideal.

If you don’t have a lot of space or prefer to display your products, make sure you store them away from windows or direct sunlight. It’s also a good idea to avoid radiators, as temperature fluctuations can affect product formulas.

Speaking of temperature fluctuations, it’s also a good idea to keep your products out of the bathroom. Although it may be difficult for some, try to only store cleansers and face washes there instead of storing serums, moisturizers, and other skin care products.

How to Know If Your Skin Care Products Are Expired?

There are a variety of ways to help you determine if your skin care products are expired. Below we explain the most common methods you can use to determine if you should use or throw away the product.

Of course, there are some signs that a product is expired:

The product has separated – If the product is a cream and you notice a layer of oil forming on the surface, it’s time to throw it out.

It has a bad or unpleasant smell – this is a clear sign of an expired product.

The texture has changed – similar to the separation issue when the consistency is no longer the same as when it was first opened.

There will be some discoloration – this can be very obvious for products containing vitamin C, which may take on a dark brown hue.

There are signs of mold stains – they can be green, black, or blue and should be thrown away immediately.

With many skin care brands taking steps to move towards organic and natural ingredient alternatives, it’s good to know that these products don’t have the shelf life of other products that contain preservatives. There is no right or wrong product you use, as long as they work for you. However, some experts recommend storing more natural products in the refrigerator for the best shelf life.

Can expired face cream still be used?

I can imagine the scenario: you have used up the last drops of your favorite moisturizer and are digging through the drawers to find a new one. You found one, but you are not sure how long you have had it, it smells nice and looks good, so you try it - nothing bad can happen, right? Well, I am sorry to say, but a lot of things can go wrong...

First of all, if you used the product and had to apply it with your fingers, you have most likely transferred multiple germs and bacteria from the formula, and applying this cream to your skin will only cause various skin reactions. You may also notice that the water that gets into the formula becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Not only will you find your skin breaking out, but products containing facial acids can cause inflammation, pain, redness, and dryness! Instead of using expired products, I recommend going makeup-free for the entire day. This will not only protect your skin from unnecessary irritation, but also keep your skin healthy and overall appearance balanced.

Here’s how to store skincare products so they last longer

Here are some of our top tips for storing skincare products so they last longer.

Store unopened products in a cool, dark place.

Keep opened products away from direct sunlight and away from rooms with fluctuating temperature and humidity (e.g. bathrooms).

Also, make sure you wash your hands before applying skincare products.

When applying a product, do not remove it from the container with your fingers, but use a clean spatula to avoid cross contamination.

Make sure no water gets into the container as this can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Store natural products in the refrigerator to keep them fresher for longer.

Use them as often as possible to avoid wastage.

Make sure you don’t keep products for special occasions, but invest in some self-care and time for yourself.

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