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Your Skincare Products Have an Expiration Date

Young woman with melanated skin looking in a mirror with a concerned face

Almost everything we consume has an expiration date. We may not pay attention to it when we make an initial purchase. But best believe we’ve all experienced the frustration of throwing a whole carton of milk or eggs away when we realize they are past the recommended consumption date.

Unlike food products, however, your skincare and makeup products may not always be marked with an expiration date. But that doesn’t mean your products have an infinite shelf life. Past a certain timeframe, your products may lose their effectiveness or worse, cause a harmful reaction.

Why don’t all skincare products have an expiration date?

Scan the bottoms and edges of your favorite skincare products. You may have never even realized that many of them don’t have an expiration date. Why? In the United States, only over-the-counter or prescription-grade skincare products (usually recommended by a licensed dermatologist) require an expiration date. That doesn’t necessarily mean certain skincare or beauty companies won’t, but they don’t have to.

Take inventory of your skincare collection

You’re not alone. At some point, we’ve felt the sting of tossing an expensive moisturizer or foundation half-used in the trash can. After all, no one enjoys throwing money down the drain. However, when it comes to protecting our skin and health, sometimes what must be done, simply must be done.

Browse through your skincare basket, cabinet or drawer. Are there products in there that you know haven’t been used or seen the light of day in a while? Are there some items missing lids, or leaking for no apparent reason? A quick look around will help you clean up your collection and get organized.

Indications it may be time to toss your beloved products

Nervous about whether or not the time has come to grab a bin and start cleaning out your treasured skincare items? Don’t be. Here are a few indications it’s time to toss:

  1. The expiration date has passed. If you DO find an expiration date on a product, heed the warning. Dates are placed on products for a reason, don’t ignore them.
  2. Your product looks different than it should. Have you noticed a cream or moisturizer separating? Is it a different color? Or smell funny? Or feel different on your skin? These are natural indicators that something is off. Throw it away.
  3. You have a bad reaction. If you’re suddenly experiencing a bad reaction to a product you’ve been using on a regular basis, deterioration may have occurred and further use may complicate things even further. And in this case, seek a skincare professional right away.
  4. Adhere to the average suggested life expectancies. Typically…

    Cleansers Approx. 1 year
    Toners Approx. 6 months to 1 year
    Exfoliants Approx. 1 year
    Body Moisturizers/Serums Approx. 6 months to 1 year
    Lip Balm Approx. 1 year
  5. Above all else, TRUST YOUR INTUITION. If you think it’s time to let a product go, don’t let your desire to hang on a little longer get the best of you.


Best practices for maintaining your skincare products

Now that you have an idea on what to be on the lookout for when it comes to recognizing a product may be old, take note of a few further helpful tips for maintaining the products you do have:

  • No expiration date? No problem. Keep up with your open date by yourself. Grab a sharpie and mark it on the bottle if you have to.
  • Be aware that unopened products have a longer shelf life than opened ones.
  • After use, tighten the lids or tops of your products to avoid exposure to contaminants in the air.
  • Store your products at the recommended temperature. It’s safe to say, most products shouldn’t be exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Make sure your hands are washed before you dip into your favorite products. The less you expose them to contaminants and germs, the better.

As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever. Don’t cry over spilled milk when it comes to parting with a skincare product that’s hung around longer than it should have. Make sure you’re making smart decisions when it comes to caring for your skin, try harder to make the most of your products next time and you won’t have to endure the trials of tossing wasted products in the future.

Best advice? Stick to your daily skin regimen and you’ll get your money’s worth. True, you’ll have to replace them more often, but at least you don’t have to worry that you’ll end up throwing the money you spent down the drain.

For other helpful tips on products and skincare techniques, check Urban Skin Rx’s Glow-Up Guide often!