The Importance Of Understanding Skincare Expiry Dates.

Some of us can become victims of retail therapy and indulge in buying excessive skincare products, I mean who can resist your favourite celebrities new skincare line or your favourite mask with a spinoff? However, by having large quantities of skincare products, we can find ourselves forgetting to keep a check of their expiry dates. We explain further on how you need to become educated on all things expiry when it comes to skincare, equipping you with all the knowledge needed for you to keep on top.

Photograph by Ritual Of Me.

While we all aim for that glowing smooth skin texture, expired products will do exactly the opposite! Yes, your big collection of skincare could actually be the root problem as to why you are breaking out. Expired products can cause breakouts and acne bumps (milia) underneath the skin. The collection of bacteria that goes back into the product every time you use it, also begins to grow within the product as time goes on. Unknowingly, you’re transferring the same bacteria back onto your face causing skin reactions and breakouts.

Each product has a cocktail of ingredients, which react differently over the course of time, however most products lose effectiveness within a year of opening. So what about expiry dates for a product that hasn’t been opened? This leads us ‘shelf life’ a phrase that’s been floating around in the beauty world ever so often. Shelf life is the duration of how long a product stays in its original form if its sealed, which generally can be quite hard to measure since there’s not a stamped date on the packaging. Shelf life however can vary as its enormously based on the ingredients and the room temperatures skincare should be kept in. Below we conclude a shelf life guide of the skincare products you most likely keep in your Shelfie:

Shelf life: 2 years – Sunscreen’s have a long shelf life, depending if they are kept in the right temperature. Most sunscreens will be effective up to two years, however when they are exposed to the heat the active ingredients can start to break down quicker which leads to lack of efficiency and decreasing protection.

Moisturisers, face creams, eye creams:
Shelf life: 6 months – up to 1 year. Apart from becoming less effective, expired eye creams can cause bacterial infections as well as irritation in the most sensitive area of your face.

Shelf life: 2-3 years – This number relies on the ingredients as most serums are filled with powerful active ingredients, but what we are not told is that these elements can break down over a short period of time. Certain ingredients such as Vitamin C are likely to lose potency over time, as well as anti-ageing and anti-acne serums which tend to last up to 3 months. The active ingredients in most skincare products will begin to break down once they are exposed to light and different temperatures so its important to store them in cool places.

Now we find ourselves trying to understand the expiry date, but without the expiry date stamp, how do we find it? The expiry date comes in the form of PAO (Period After Opening), a symbol which can be found on all beauty packaging (it looks like the really small open tub)! It will also be accompanied by a number and the letter M, which stands for amount of months you can use the product after opening. The usual grouping of numbers is as follows:

  • 3 (3 months)
  • 6 (6 months)
  • 12 (12 months)
  • 24 (24 months)
  • 36 (36 months)

Regardless of the guide expiry date, your skincare products can still be compromised. Once a product is open from its original seal, it invites outside bacteria’s inside the product. Even though your product can be dated to expire months away, if its consistently is compromised it can lead to a build up of germs. Just think of how much bacteria can get into your moisturising tub if you don’t put the lid on straight after or clean your hands before use!

You can also rely on your senses to know when products have gone off. The smell, consistency, and colour of the product will show whether it needs to be thrown out. Look out for when the formula separates and the colour changes. We also find that rather than the product smelling off, the scent weakens. We cannot emphasis enough how important expiry dates are, as for us it defeats the purpose of using skincare if you ignore monitoring the dates! We recommend keeping notes from when you add new products to your routine, so you’re able to keep track and replace!

The content we provide is only for information purposes, it does not substitute for professional advice, and consultation. Opinions are only of the contributor, interviewer or interviewee.

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