• Expiry dates: from product label to skincare reality


    skin care product informationUsing cosmetic products and knowing how to care for your skin requires some minimal cosmetic “education”. You’ll even need this knowledge just to read a product label, because understanding it might prove more difficult in the absence of a clear expiry date; ingredients alone suddenly require extra knowledge from the consumer: what is this? for how long can I use it? is it going to last at least 6 months?

    With or without an expiry date. When no expiry term is given, you have to consider all the ingredients of the product and, based on common knowledge, use it only for a certain amount of time depending on the quality of the listed ingredients and their type. Are they of chemical origin or botanical? Are there anti-oxidants? Are there enough preservatives?

    With an expiry date imprinted on the package, things should be quite easy: you can use the product until THAT date. But this is not the best skin care idea in practice. The expiry dates on the package are usually meant to make the purchase act safe for the consumer (just making sure the product on the shelf is not expired) but not meant to indicate the term for safe use as well.
    Once opened, other rules apply.

    Opened or unopened. Most of the skin care products last between three to twelve months after being opened, even if the imprinted expiry date is years ahead. When not stored in the right conditions, one to three months is the adequate term of use for lotions and moisturizers. After this time, the product loses its properties, effectiveness and may even cause skin issues. That’s why it is recommended to use the product immediately after opening and stop using it in a few months, even if not completely used.

    Make sure to check the product ingredients as well: oils and botanicals (or compounds of vegetal origin) will shorten the efficiency span of the opened product.

    Unopened, most cosmetics and skin care products generally have a shelf life of 2-3 years. The exception is mineral make-up, because their ingredients are not easily degradable; if they contain any trace of degradable compounds like botanicals, the products have a regular shelf life.
    Using cosmetic products after the recommended time would increase the risk of contamination with bacteria and other microorganisms that develop in your make up or moisturizers. The effectiveness of the active substance decreases significantly after a while and the product could simply not work anymore; it can even cause skin problems (inflammations, allergies, irritation, acne, drying out, rashes etc). It was previously mentioned that storing the product in the right conditions is essential, otherwise the recommended usage time would hardly exceed a month.

    Storage. A first big mistake most of us make is keeping all cosmetic care products in the bathroom – actually, there isn’t a worse place for storage in the entire house: constant humidity and heat, temperature changes, a perfect environment for oxidation, chemicals alteration, bacteria or germs. In an attempt to avoid this, some people snap the skin care products off the bathroom shelves and put them in the fridge. This is not a good option for most of the cosmetics and it will not prolong the life of the product: the low temperatures or the sudden temperature alternation can damage the formula of some products like foundations, moisturizers, powders, lotions. So what to do?

    Perfect storing conditions include dark, dry and cool places (not too cool!) or even constant room temperature but away from direct sunlight. If a product smells, feels or looks different in color or consistency, it is better you throw it away and never use it again. Replace old products with new ones if you intend to still use them after a few months. Read the labels and make sure you understand the ingredients. Don’t try to fix old cosmetics by adding water, oil or other ingredients.

    Here’s a general time line for cosmetics use: moisturizers, lotions and oil free foundation – never exceed one year; mascara and SPF lotions – 3 to 6 months; cream based concealers or cream eye shadow – use 12 to 18 months after opening; eye and lip liner pencils, lipstick, gloss, fragrance, powder foundation and eye shadows or blush will last up to 2 years.

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