Do Unopened Skincare Products Expire?

Do Unopened Skincare Products Expire?

There is no denying that the world we are currently living in is a strange one, but I can’t help but beam with joy when I see so many of you enjoying some pampering and self care time. Studies have shown sales in self care products have sky-rocketed, and with good reason as there is nothing more uplifting then feeling content and relaxed in your own skin. With this is mind I am interested to see if any of you have had the same experience as me and that is you have decided to dig out all those products that you deemed “too special” to use. For me, it was an extremely expensive and indulgent body cream I received about a million Christmases ago, I figured there was no time like the present and peeled it open only to discover it had well and truly expired…. I was so frustrated to have kept the product locked up instead of using it. So that is why today I am digging a little deeper and finding out which skincare products expire, how you can prevent them expiring too soon and how long their shelf life is before they sadly end up in the bin.

How long do unopened skincare products last?

If you were to pick up any skin or body care product and take a look at the packaging, you will find there is a small symbol that looks like a jar with the lid coming off the top. In the middle of the jar there will be a number ranging from six, 12, 24, 36 or 48. These represent the number of months you have to use the product once it is open before it goes off. Using a product after its use by date may cause some skin irritation to those with sensitive skin and can be less effective. Certain active ingredients, such as vitamin C and salicylic acid hold their potency for a certain amount of time, but after that they become completely useless.

Now, you are probably wondering how long you have to use unopened skincare products (especially after I’ve shared with you my body cream horror story!) and you can generally expect unopened skincare products to last 3-5 years if they are stored in the correct way.

The rule of thumb is the shelf life of unopened products is up to five years so long as you do the following;

  • Keep all skincare products stored in a cool, dark place- the drawers of a dresser are ideal
  • If you haven’t got the space, or prefer your products on display then ensure they are kept clear of any windows or direct sunlight. It is also a good idea to avoid radiators too as the heat fluctuation can interfere with product formula
  • Speaking of fluctuation of heat, it is also a good idea to keep products out of the bathroom. though this may be tricky for some, try and only keep your cleansers and face washes in there and not your serums, moisturisers and other treatment products.

How do you know if a skincare product is expired?

If you find yourself picking up a product and you are finding it hard to figure out when the last time you used it was- is it really the right product for you? And do you really enjoy using it? If the answer is no and it has been well over a year since you last applied it to the skin, then it’s time to part ways (even if it appears to be fine)

There are of course some signs a product has expired:

  1. The product has separated- if the product is a cream and you find it has a layer of oil on the surface then it’s time to throw it out
  2. It has a bad or rotten smell- quite the obvious sign of an expired product
  3. The texture of the it has changed- much like the separation problem, if the consistency isn’t the same as then time you first opened it
  4. There is some discolouration- this can be very obvious in products containing vitamin C which can turn a dark brown tone
  5. There are signs of mould spots- they can be green, black or blue in colour and should be tossed out immediately

With many skincare brands taking steps towards organic and natural alternatives to ingredients, it is a good idea to understand that these products will not have the shelf life of others containing preservatives. There is no right or wrong to the products you use, as long as they work for you. However, with more natural products some experts have suggested to keep them in the fridge for an optimal life span.

Is it OK to use expired face cream?

I can imagine the scenario, you have used up the last drop of your all-time favourite moisturiser and scrabble through your drawers to find another. You find one, you’re not too sure how long you’ve had it, it smells and looks fine so you give it a go- nothing that bad can happen right? Well, I’m sorry to say this, but a lot can go wrong….

Firstly, if you have used the product and it requires you to apply it with your fingers, then chances are you transferred a plethora of germs and bacteria that have seeped their way into the formula and applying this cream onto the skin will only result in all manner of skin reactions. You may also find that if any water makes its way into the formula it will develop a breeding ground for bacteria. Not only will you find your skin erupts with imperfections, but products containing any face acids will also cause the skin to become irritated, sore, red and dry! I would suggest avoiding using any product that is expired and instead go bare faced for the day. This will not only save your skin from unwanted irritation but will keep the balance of the skin’s health and overall appearance.

How to store skincare products so they last longer

Here are some of our top tips when storing skincare products and help them last longer over time.

  • Keep the unopened products in a cool, dark place
  • For open products keep them away from direct sunlight and out of rooms that fluctuate in heat and moisture (e.g. bathrooms)
  • Also ensure your hands are washed and clean before using any skincare products
  • When applying a product ensure you are not using your fingers to take the product out of the pot, but use a clean spatula to prevent cross contamination
  • Make sure that no water makes its way into the container as this can develop into a breeding ground for bacteria
  • Keep natural products in the fridge to help them stay fresher for longer
  • Use them as frequently as possible to avoid them being wasted
  • Ensure you don’t safe products for special occasions, but instead invest in some selfcare and “you” time

So, there you have a little more investigation into whether skincare products expire, if you have any questions or wanted to join the other beauty insiders members, then come and join us on Instagram.


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