Image via: Pinterest
By Shilpa Bhim
We all have that one (or two or three!) favourite skincare product that’s also a little bit *luxe*.
Like that beautiful face cream, purchased on your last overseas trip. Expensive, but also worth every cent. But you also only ever use the tiniest amount of that beautiful face cream. Because you want it to last forever!
Here’s the thing though. Everyone always says you shouldn’t keep skincare products for too long, otherwise they’ll go bad.
Do skincare products actually expire and go bad? And if they do, how are we supposed to know when they’re due to expire?
We’ve broken down everything you need to know about skincare products and expiry dates.
WHAT CAUSES SKINCARE PRODUCTS TO EXPIRE?
Your skincare products are formulated using a mix of ingredients. Over time, these expire or become less effective.
The main factors that cause the efficacy of skincare products to degrade are environmental. Heat, air, light and bacteria all impact the effectiveness of skincare products.
DO MY SKINCARE PRODUCTS HAVE EXPIRY DATES ON THEM?
They might … or they might not. In Australia, there’s no legal requirement for a printed expiry date on skincare and beauty products.
But, most of your products will contain that little open jar symbol that you’ve probably seen many times before:
This symbol is called the PAO (short for ‘period after opening’) and indicates how long the preservatives and/or antioxidants in your skincare will keep your products fresh once they’re opened.
You’ll notice the PAO open jar symbol always contains a number in it - usually a 6, 12, 18 or 24. This indicates the number of months you can confidently use your skincare products for, without them expiring.
PSA: the PAO is a guide. Your skincare products could last longer if you take steps to prolong their shelf-life. More on that coming up!
MY SKINCARE PRODUCTS DON’T HAVE A PAO. HOW DO I KNOW WHEN THEY’LL EXPIRE?!
Most skincare products are formulated to last unopened for around 2-3 years.
Once a product is opened, the environmental factors come into play. There’s a few key signs to look out for which will tell you if you skincare products are expired (or about to expire):
- Your skincare products have separated, or the texture has changed
- The skincare products you’re using smells kind of funky
- There are mould spots in your skincare products
- The colour of your skincare products has changed
DO SOME SKINCARE PRODUCTS EXPIRE SOONER THAN OTHERS?
It’s no so much about the type of product, and more about the environmental factors impacting your skincare product once it’s opened.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I USE MY SKINCARE PRODUCTS AFTER THEY’RE EXPIRED?
There are implications for your skin:
- If your skincare products contain active ingredients, they’ll probably be significantly less effective.
- Using an expired sunscreen can be dangerous - increasing your risk of skin cancers and sunburn (as the sunscreen will no longer be as effective).
- Skin, especially sensitive skin, can react with rashes, irritation and breakouts. This is usually because the chemical composition of your skincare products have changed.
As a general rule, once your skincare product starts to exhibit signs of expiry, you probably want to dispose of it. No-one wants to be rubbing a rancid smelling, mould infused cream into their skin, right?!
HOW DO I PROLONG THE SHELF-LIFE OF MY SKINCARE PRODUCTS?
There’s a few easy steps to follow to maximise the shelf-life of your skincare products:
- Always have clean, dry hands when using your skincare products.
- Store your skincare products as directed. A cool place away from light, heat and humidity is usually a safe bet.
- Put the lid or cap of your skincare products on properly.