• Anca I.

Are Old Products the Reason for Your Skin Woes?

You’ve perfected and streamlined your skincare routine with only the products that you love and need. But suddenly, your skin is acting up and you’re not sure what the change might be caused by.

You might want to ask yourself when was the last time that you purchased your products?

There are plenty of reasons why your shelf could be lined with old products. Some products only use a small amount but you get the larger size anyway, some are on the pricey side and we want to conserve them. Sometimes we buy too many and we end up having half-used cleansers and lotions shoved in the bathroom abyss.

Regardless of how they got there, it’s important to know when it’s time to chuck products that could be causing you more harm than help.

Why you should dump old products

For one, it’s important to know that your products have two lives. First, there is a shelf life which says overall how long the product will last. Then there is the use life which is how long the product will last once it has been open. Take note on the product bottle lists both time frames.

The biggest concerns with expired products is a loss of potency and the increased chance for bacteria build-up. Your skin already puts up a tough act against the normal daily grind. Keeping old products could cause a host of skin concerns and defeats the purpose of even using them.

The use of preservatives ensures that your product is safe to use within the allotted time frame and it’s wise to stay within the recommended time. If you don't you run the risk of causing infection, irritation or adding bacteria.

Once opened the oxidation process begins and the effectiveness of the active ingredients begins to degrade. And that goes for an array of products from food, medication, skincare, makeup, or even cleaning products.

Not only is it a waste of your time using ineffective products, but with certain products, like sunscreen, without the active ingredient working you could be damaging your skin more. You should keep a special eye on products like sunscreen, acne-products, and retinoids.

How do I know if my product has gone bad?

Look for changes in consistency, texture, and smell, as well as the effect it has on your skin. If, for example, you have a cream that has gone from smooth to lumpy that could be a sign that it's time to dump the product.

For example, if you have been using a topical cream for some time and it either begins to burn or irritate it could be that the active ingredients in the product are changing. It’s best to toss it and get a new product.

Over the counter options usually include an expiration. The expiration date indicates when the active ingredients in the product will no longer be effective. Most list the effective date as 12-36 months. If it’s not indicated a good rule of thumb is to keep an open product for no longer than a year.

Watch for products in jars, like lotions and creams. They risk higher chances of bacterial contamination because you are directly putting your hands into the solution. Bacteria and germs can easily be transferred into the product and be left there to grow.

If possible you can use a jar application like this, or opt for lotions and creams with a squeeze or pump dispenser. And if your favorite cream happens to only come in a jar, make sure to not let it sit so long. You could also use something like a small plastic spatula to remove the cream without getting your hands in it.

The more moisture the product has, like in creams, mascaras, or foundations, the faster they will need to be used. Dry products like eyeshadows and blushes generally have a longer use life. If you're using mainly organic and all-natural products, keep an extra eye out as those products tend to use less or no preservatives and are prone to spoil faster.

You can help extend the shelf life by tightly closing your products, by not diluting them with other products, and keeping them out of direct sunlight. Another tip is to start with clean hands when handling your skincare or makeup products to reduce the number of bacteria it comes in contact with.

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