As promised from the Makeup Shelf Life blog post a few weeks ago, here are some guidelines about skincare expiration. Like all products we consume, there is an expiration date. When it comes to skincare expiration, it can be tricky. Depending on the ingredients and packaging, products can last from a few months to a year once opened. This post is to help you determine when it is time to toss a skincare product. Expired skincare can loose it’s effectiveness and cause skin irritation. Make sure to read my Makeup Shelf Life post first because many of the factors for makeup also apply to skincare expiration (click to here to read).
I recently discussed skincare expiration with Kerry Hite over on Behind The Beauty Podcast Season 2, Episode 7. You can listen to the episode here or watch it here. Product shelf life or expiration differs from brand to brand and product to product. Key factors to how long skincare stays good include packaging and ingredients. While I cannot write a post for every product out there, here is a good general guideline. Time to purge!
Like I mentioned in my Makeup Shelf Life post, for the purpose of today, when I talk about product expiration, we are discussing from the time you open the product. Once product is exposed to air, it starts to go bad. Also refer to my Makeup Shelf Life post for a guide on how to read the handy expiration symbols on all beauty products (click to here to read).
General Questions To Ask Before Tossing
When in doubt, use good judgment. I wish I was diligent about writing the date I open a product on its packaging, but I am not. So I like to ask myself these questions when cleaning out my skincare:
- Does it smell funny? (obviously some skincare always smells bad, but does it smell different from when you first opened it?)
- Did the color change?
- Did the texture change?
- Have I stuck my finger in this?
- Is it exposed to a lot of air or light?
If you answer yes to any of the questions and can’t remember when you opened it, it’s time to toss it.
Always better safe than sorry, I’ve had some horrible breakouts and rashes from using products that have gone bad.
This is tricky. If there is an SPF or other skin protectant, the general guideline is 1 year. If your lip product contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, toss after a year.
Shop My Favorite Lip Balms
Brush Heads 3 months
While Clarisonic and most cleansing brushes recommend replacing every 3 months, make sure you are letting the brushes air dry fully between uses. Cleanse and rinse the brushes thoroughly each time. Consider deep cleaning with an antibacterial soap every week as well.
Foreo Luna ???
The benefit of the Foreo cleansing tools is that it lasts as long as you maintain it. No brush replacement needed. I like to wash my Foreo in hot water with soap. You can even put it in the dishwasher as long as the water isn’t too hot. Once the battery dies for good, that will be when you would need to replace the Luna. Mine is currently on year 2.
Konjac Sponges 3 months
This is something I wouldn’t mess around with. Sponges breed bacteria. Also make sure you are hang drying the sponges. Honestly, I like to replace these monthly.
Shop Cleansing Tools
3 months to 6 months
This was a hard one to narrow down. Depending on the ingredients, your toner can go bad after 3 months. If your toner has active ingredients such as glycolic and fruit acids, it needs to be tossed around the 3 month mark. Active ingredients can become more active as they expire and cause skin irritation. Organic ingredients go bad faster. If your toner has Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, toss between 4 to 6 months.
Shop My Favorite Toners
Again, this all depends on the ingredients. Check the packaging for the expiration label, and use good judgment.
Shop My Favorite Serums
6 months to years
From what I can find, oils have the longest shelf life of any skincare product. Depending on the oil, it can be good for a year from opening. My favorite rosehip seed oil has the shortest shelf life at about 6 months. Coconut Oil and Jojoba Oil have undefined shelf life. Now I would not recommend keeping opened bottles of beauty oils around for longer than 12 months, but this is one you might be able to hoard a bit depending on the cocktail.
Shop My Favorite Beauty Oils
3 to 6 months
Again depending on the ingredients in your face mask, it will determine the expiration date. A key factor is packaging. While I love the look of a jar, if you stick your finger in a jar of product, it goes bad after 20 times! DON’T STICK YOUR FINGER IN A JAR OF PRODUCT! I use a metal spatula to scoop out product. Make sure you are washing the spatula between uses. If you really want to be sure to keep your product fresh, use Q tips and don’t double dip!
Anytime the product looks like it’s changed in any way or started to dry out, it’s time to go. Because masks are typically full of active ingredients, they don’t last very long. So do purge frequently.
Shop My Favorite Masks
9 to 11 months
The effectiveness of Retinol starts to diminish around this time.
Shop More Skincare Favorites
Date on package and/or 12 months
The cool thing about SPF is that the expiration date is stamped on the box or bottle. For full protection use before the expiration date on the box. Once opened, I keep my SPF around for the year. Every Spring, I toss out my SPF and refresh my stock. Not going to take any chances on sun damage because of old SPF exposed to too much air, light, or plastic. Yup! The packaging, if plastic can affect the potency of your SPF over time.
6 to 12 months
The dangers of expired moisturizers isn’t just less effectiveness, but the growth of bacteria, which can lead to irritation and/or infection. Packaging with pumps are less likely exposed to bacteria. Moisturizers in jars should be tossed after 6 to 9 months, but this is IF you are NOT sticking your fingers in the jars. After speaking with Kerry and doing more research, I’ve taken to using Q tips when applying my skincare now. First it makes traveling easier and second, I just don’t want to take any chances. I have had too many odd rashes and flare ups on my face.
Okay, so how bad are you? You guys shared some pretty good makeup confessions, now it’s time to spill on your skincare. What are you guilty of hoarding and keeping way past it’s expiration?