Skincare Shelf Life: How Long Can I Keep My Products?
As an esthetician, I can tell you I have a cabinet full of skincare products. It’s exciting to find a new product or ingredient and want to test it out. Being a “skincare junkie” does have its downside – products don’t last forever. So, before you blow off the cobwebs and open that old jar of moisturizer, let's talk about how long you should keep your skincare products.
There is a simple way to find out how long a product will last – look at the container. You should find a small image of an opened jar with a number 6, 12, 24 or 36 on it. This number refers to the number of months you can use the product once the jar is opened. Nowadays, packaging should have this imprinted on the jar, bottle or tube. Another way to check for an expiration date is to look at the bottom of the jar or along the crimped seal of a tube. Some manufacturers will place an expiration date in these areas. Should you not find an expiration date anywhere on the container, a general rule is the unopened product will last approximately 1 to 2 years. To be on the safe side, once a product is opened, it should be used as directed, within one year.
Expiration dates are great and easy to use, but it is up to you to remember when you purchased and opened your products. I find that you can take a permanent marking pen and write the date you opened the product on the bottom of the container. The date won’t rub off and you won’t have to wrack your brain trying to remember a bunch of dates. Another way to decide if your product is past its prime is to simply look at it. If you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to dispose and purchase a new product:
- The texture has changed
- The product has curdled or separated
- The product has a bad or rancid smell
- The product color has changed
- There is noticeable mold growing in the product or inside the jar
If you are using products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or sunscreens and acne treatments, make sure the products have not expired. Acids may become stronger over time and may cause irritation to your skin. When in doubt, throw it out!
Finally, try to store your products in a cool, dry place. Do not place any containers in the window sill or expose them to sunlight. The UV light will degrade your products quickly. Also, exposure to heat and humidity, such as in a bathroom, may make it easier for bacteria and fungi to grow.
I hope you enjoyed these easy steps for understanding the shelf life of your skincare products, proper storage of your skincare products, and knowing when to toss them out. To find more articles like this one, head to High Beauty's blog here. Questions? Visit our FAQs.