Dr. Schlessinger discusses expired products

Many of us have opened products in our drawers and cabinets that we purchased months or even years ago. It’s natural to want to hold onto a pricey product, or one that we think may come in handy someday. However, much like the jars and cans in your kitchen, skin care and cosmetics have a shelf-life, and applying products past their suggested use-by date could potentially harm your skin.

Once a container has been opened and exposed to air, the product begins to oxidize, and bacteria will naturally begin to spread. Though many products include preservatives to help combat bacteria, after a time, the amount of bacteria will grow too large, and the effects of the preservative will dwindle. Once bacteria contaminates the face, it can cause breakouts, disrupt the skin’s natural balance and exacerbate other skin issues.

Active ingredients can become more potent over time, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

In addition, certain active ingredients like retinol and glycolic acid may become more potent over time. This can cause irritation, dryness and allergic reaction in the form of a rash. Unstable anti-aging ingredients, such as the vitamin C found in many serums, can break down quickly when exposed to air, rendering the formula ineffective and potentially irritating to the skin. Similarly, sunscreen actives break down over three to five months once opened and lose their ability to protect the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

In the United States, expiration dates for skin care and makeup are not necessary for certain products. You’ll find dates on products with potent active ingredients (namely sunscreen and acne treatments), but you will rarely find them on other types of products. Many companies are choosing to include a use-by date or manufacturing date on their packaging for your convenience, but it is not a requirement and it can vary as to usefulness. This is why it is important to understand the shelf-life of various types of products.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger suggests replacing makeup regularly to avoid bacteria.

Though not every product comes with an expiration date, there are definitive guidelines for a product’s shelf life. When it comes to cosmetics, be especially cautious with eye makeup and any products with packaging that is reached into with fingers. Eyeliner and mascara, the two products that are applied closest to the eye and tear duct, have the most potential to cause a bacterial infection of the eye. Mascara should be discarded after about three months, along with liquid and gel eyeliners. Eyeliner pencils may last anywhere from six months to two years.

Powder cosmetics have a longer shelf-life than liquids because bacteria typically need water in order to thrive. Powder eye shadows and foundations should be good for two years. Liquid concealers and foundations last from six months to a year. Lip liners and lipsticks last for two to three years.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger recommends Klix brushes to ensure that you always have a clean brush on hand.

Old cosmetics aren’t the only culprit for harboring bacteria. If they are not cleaned regularly, your makeup brushes can trap dirt, oil, dead skin cells and bacteria, contaminating the face and exacerbating acne. Brushes should be cleaned as often as possible.

If you’re short on time, Klix brushes are the perfect solution. These face brushes are the only tools on the market that come complete with removable heads. Available in powder, blush and concealer brush varieties, you can simply click on a new one without replacing your entire brush. Purchase replacement heads separately for your convenience, and place a new one on daily to assure that you always have a clean brush on hand. This will help keep bacteria out of your makeup as well.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger shares advice for keeping track of product use-by dates.

Cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreens last about a year after opening. Serums last from six months to a year, depending upon active ingredients. Acne spot treatments can last up to two years. Remember that if a skin care product changes color or texture or develops a foul odor, throw it away. And keep in mind that many natural or organic skin care companies choose to leave preservatives out of their formulas, making shelf-life even shorter.

Keeping track of your products can be difficult. I recommend writing the date you opened the product on the container in permanent marker. This way, you won’t have to guess just when it’s time to let it go.

Do you have a question for Dr. Joel Schlessinger about expired products? Let us know in the comments section.

Posted Friday, November 7th, 2014 at 9:22 pm
Filed Under Category: Makeup Advice, Skin Care
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