There’s no doubt that a good number of us are product junkies… Seemingly never satisfied with the ones we have, we tend to collect various skin care products, hoping that the newest one will have that magical ingredient that will solve all of our problems. The thing is, we often hold on to the older products as well, thinking we can go back to them if the new products don’t work out.

But like food and makeup, skin care products expire (it would be worrisome if they didn’t). Using skin care creams, gels, lotions and the like after their expiration date is never a good idea: Not only are the active ingredients rendered ineffective, bacteria will have accumulated in the product.

In general, a product’s shelf life depends on its ingredients, packaging and storage. Each product is a bit different, but you’ll know it’s time to toss it if any of these statements are true:

  • The product has changed color
  • The product’s texture has changed
  • There is a strange or rancid scent coming from product
  • There are small black (bacterial) spots in the product

To help you out further, we’ve listed the typical expiration dates for these common products.

Acne Products: A typical acne cream will last about 4-6 months. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, two common ingredients, break down rather quickly. If you don’t need it that often, put it in your refrigerator to maximize potency.
Moisturizers: Basic moisturizers that do not have anti-aging ingredients can last a little over a year. But moisturizers with active ingredients will expire in a year or less. Keep in mind that any product with a vitamin ingredient (C, E, A) will begin to degrade once it is exposed to oxygen.
Peels and Masks: After about three months, it’s probably time to toss. This is especially true if the peel contains either an alpha hydroxy or glycolic acid, because after a few months its buffering agents begin to evaporate, leaving your skin exposed to the irritating acid ingredients.
Retinoid Creams: When packaged in an opaque tube, these creams can last 9-11 months. Again, the vitamin A in the product begins to break down the moment it is exposed to oxygen.
Scrubs: Facial scrubs are pretty hardy… they can last up to two years. Avoid purchasing a scrub that is in a tub or jar you have to dip into, as that allows bacteria to collect over time.
Sunscreens: Sunscreens can last 1-2 years, depending on how they are stored. To make it last, keep it in a cool, dark place.

To help products last longer, store them away from heat and light. Also, look for products that come in an airless pump that will keep products fresher for longer.

As for those pesky skin problems, quality products will only get you so far. For serious TLC for your skin, take a look at the treatments we offer here at Zimmet Vein & Dermatology. We address everything from skin laxity to sun damage. Give us a call today to learn more. (512) 402-6694.