In the case of beauty products, ‘good to the last drop’ might just not be good enough. Beauty products have a recommended shelf life, or expiration date, it just might not be printed out on the label. But have no fear. All you need to know are a few simple ways to determine how long to keep and product, and when to throw one out.
A few guidelines to follow:
- All products which change odor, color, texture should be thrown out.
- Any product with a change in fragrance should be thrown out as well, as this is a sign that the product is no longer good.
- Another warning sign can come from products which have physically separated. This means the ingredients may not be active anymore.
- In general, a good rule of thumb is if a product starts to look, feel or smell different, it is time to be replaced. The product is likely no longer effective, and could also be a potential irritant to the skin.
Common products and their shelf life:
- Sunscreens – Most are good for a year, after which the SPF can decrease in effectiveness. Best to be replaced every year.
- Face Creams – Creams can get contaminated rather fast; each time you use your fingers to apply the cream bacteria is introduced. Most creams have a shelf life of 6-9 months.
- Face Serums/Pumps – Products placed in a pump have the advantage of avoiding finger contamination. In addition, many pumps are designed in an airless fashion so further duration of effectiveness of product can be seen. Products such as SkinMedica Essential Serum, which is contained in an airless pump, can have a shelf life of 2+ years. It should be noted, however, that serums are designed to be used every day, often am/pm for best results. Used in this fashion, most should be gone within 3-4 months. So, you may not be getting the best bang for your buck if not used within this time.
- Moisturizers – Again, this often depends on the vehicle the the moisturizer is contained in. Moisturizers in a pump container can have a shelf life of up to 1 year, and moisturizers in a tub or pot should be discarded after 6-9 months
- Retin A and Retinols – Prescription Retin A typically comes with an expiration date, which should be recognized for best results. Retinols lose some of their potency after 6-9 months, and those contained in an airless pump can be good for 1 year or more.
The old adage, “when in doubt, throw it out,” certainly applies to beauty products. Using beauty products in a timely manner, tightly closing lids, and avoiding contamination of products can extend the shelf life of your products.