It’s that time of the year again! We’ve set our clocks forward by an hour and we welcome the milder temperatures and sunnier side of things. It’s also that time of year when you embark on your annual spring cleaning routine. And while most of that time may be spent going through your closet – sorting, tossing, re-arranging, and perusing through old love letters, there is another area of your life that deserve some special attention as well.
Just like you take the time to clean out your fridge by tossing out expired food items (or at least we would hope that you do), your beauty care routine needs the same type of attention.
Unlike diamonds, beauty products are not forever. They all have a shelf life. However, some may or may not have printed expiration dates, making it difficult to know when it’s time for a product to be replaced. Fortunately, we have some info that will come in handy once you’re ready to take on this task.
Unlike wine, a vintage edition of sunscreen will NOT be as good. The average shelf life of sunscreen is between 1-2 years. Its ingredients lose their strength over time, making them less effective and leaving you vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays. SPF products are highly sensitive to temperature fluctuations. And since most of us are only thinking about our SPF bottles on warm sunny days, even though ideally you should be using SPF protection all year round, it’s too easy to leave your sunscreen bottle by the pool where it bakes under the hot sun for hours or days. Sunscreen that has been exposed to high temperatures should be tossed out immediately. This applies to sunscreen exposed to high temperatures both outdoors and indoors.
Face Masks & Peels
Masks and peels have some of the shortest lifespans when it comes to beauty products. These typically don’t last longer than 6 months. On average, they should only be kept between 2-3 months. Their active ingredients break down at a faster rate than they do in other products. Their compositions changes and they turn hard and dry. Expired masks and peels can also damage your skin.
Most of the active ingredients in acne products, like Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid, start to break down after 2 to 3 months. Acne pads and wipes have shorter lifespans than spot treatments and other solutions. Unless each pad is individually wrapped, these don’t last longer than 2 months.
Scrubs can last longer than other products, but ONLY if they’ve been properly stored. Some scrubs may have an expiration date while others may not. You can also look for a “best by date.” Even though these exfoliants can outlast your other products, the problem lies in that most of us have a million things running through our head. Think about how many times you have left your body scrub jar open in the shower. This becomes prime real estate for bacteria to manifest itself. Scrubs that have been left open should be tossed out sooner. Otherwise, follow the expiration date, “best by date,” or 2 year rule.
Ingredients in moisturizers break down and lose their effectiveness after 6 months to a year. An expired moisturizer will not give your skin the same level of hydration it did when it was first purchased new. Moisturizers stored in pumps have a longer shelf life than those that come in jars, which only last between 6-9 months.
Remember the no double-dipping rule when it comes to chips and dip? The same can be said for your moisturizer. Every time you dip, you are potentially contaminating it with the germs and bacteria on your fingertips. Replace it regularly and you reduce the chance of contamination.
Bar soap may seem like the canned food of hygiene products but even this has its own shelf life. Do you really want to eat that can of peas that has been sitting in your pantry for over 5 years? Probably not. Old soap can break down and dry up. Specialty soaps with natural oils and other essential ingredients have shorter lifespans than the conventional versions and should be tossed out sooner.
A Few Tips on Proper Storage
If your product doesn’t have an expiration date, keep a written log of when you purchased it. This makes it easier to know when it’s time for a product to be replaced.
Keep Away From Bright Light and Heat
We know what happens when you leave food out for too long. It spoils!
Your beauty products are no different. They contains live, natural, and active ingredients that will spoil when exposed to high temperatures. The best storage locations are in cool, dark, and dry places. By the way, your bathroom is NOT a cool and dry location. Humidity and high temperatures create the perfect conditions for bacteria to breed. It’s best to choose another location, like your bedroom.
Keep Your Hands Out
You may be familiar with the horror stories of the germs that live on our cell phone screens and computer keyboards. And in general, just think of all the germs and bacteria that our hands and fingertips come across on a daily basis. Rather than dipping into your moisturizer with your bare hands you can use a small clean spatula.
It’s important to recognize that it’s not only important to care for your skin but to also care for the products that do the work to keep it looking healthy and beautiful. Otherwise, what is the point of spending all that money on products that will be ineffective because of our own negligence.
So we hope we’ve made it just a tad easier for the next time you find yourself starting down at the disarray that is your beauty products graveyard.