You want to get the most out of your skin care products. However, using them past their expiration point can be more harmful than frugal. Product expiration is a real thing and, when it comes to keeping your skin clear, glowing, and healthy, not something to be ignored. Here are a few things to consider about product expiration.
Short answer: yes. How quickly that happens will vary significantly between different products. The lifespan of your products can be influenced by several factors, including ingredients and packaging. Skin care products stored in jars are likely to expire faster than those in airtight pumps because dipping your fingers into the product itself increases bacterial exposure. Certain ingredients may also have their own lifespan, especially those extracts that are water-soluble – microbes flourish in water and love to feast on fruit and plant extracts. Be especially wary of products that don’t contain artificial preservatives; though you may prefer to keep your skin care routine free of these chemicals, the trade-off is a much shorter shelf life.
Every time your skin care products are exposed to air, they collect bacteria. It’s unavoidable. That bacteria will grow inside the product and eventually break it down, turn it rancid, or otherwise make it unsuitable for use. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science demonstrated that 70% of women in the study used some form of expired products. Around 67% of the expired products contained potentially dangerous levels of bacterias, including staphylococcus and Moraxella, which are common causes of skin infections.
It’s also a question of effectiveness. Certain compounds that are common to skin care products become less effective with time. For example, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be very beneficial when applied topically to the skin, offering anti-aging, protective, and skin tone benefits. However, it can be temperamental, and exposure to UV light, air, and temperature changes can cause it to break down, change color, and lose efficacy. Another well-known ingredient, hyaluronic acid, changes texture with time, creating a gelling effect in products containing it which can dry the skin. Acids in general can become more potent and irritating over time.
Some items, like sunscreens and medicated anti-acne products, are legally required to be marked with an expiration date. These dates are not a ploy to get you to buy more often. Sunscreen becomes less effective as soon as it’s exposed to air. Ideally, you should be replacing it every 6-12 months after opening. Because of the serious health risks to unprotected sun exposure, paying close attention to sun protection product expiration dates is crucial.
Other ways to look for expiry information include checking the label itself for a small graphic of an opened jar with a number on it. The number refers to how many months after opening the product is functioning at peak effectiveness. Some products may not use this symbol, but fortunately, every product must legally be stamped with a batch code. You can search for this code online to determine when and where the product was produced, allowing you to make effective judgments about what products are still good and what should be tossed.
Look out for bad smells, changes in color or texture, product separation, mold spots, and unwanted reactions on the skin. Keep an eye out for changes to the packaging as well. If a plastic bottle seems warped or misshapen, it could be under pressure from decaying product inside. Finally, we know you want to get the most out of those free samples, but anything that comes in a sealed single-use packet, once opened has a shelf life of approximately 24 hours. Keep your skin safe and toss it after one use.
To maximize the lifespan of your existing products, make sure you store all your favourite creams and serums away from light, humidity, and temperature fluctuations, preferably in a cool dry space like a drawer. Don’t store your products in the fridge unless specifically directed to–long-term cold storage can be just as harmful to your products as constant heat or fluctuations.
Wash your hands before using any products and whenever possible, opt for pumps and bottles over jars to minimize the need to stick your fingers in. To avoid cross-contamination, don’t share your products with other people, and don’t add water to the mix if you’re hoping to extend the life of a dried-out product. Also, be sure to get rid of any eye products if you’ve recently experienced an eye infection of any kind since those bacteria can hang around on items and cause infection to recur.
When it comes to skin care, consider opting for medical aesthetic treatments that never expire, last longer, and work better than many products. Venus Concept’s line of treatment devices offer effective options for maintaining skin clarity, tightening wrinkles, increasing glow and firmness, and reducing redness and discoloration. The TriBella™ facial treatment uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) to improve the appearance of sun damage and uneven hemoglobin distribution. IPL technology can also reduce the acne, inflammation, and bacteria that can accumulate due to the use of expired skin care products. For skin texture concerns including scars, wrinkles, enlarged pores, and stretch marks, Venus Versa™ and Venus Viva™ MD treatment devices both offer advanced nanofractional radiofrequency skin resurfacing technology with minimal downtime. To deeply cleanse skin that is suffering from too much product build-up, air pollution, and other impurities, Venus Glow™ facial renewal treatments combine enriching serums with ultra-fine jet streams that deliver the serums to the surface of the skin while deep cleaning pores of dirt, oil and other debris.
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