Why using a product past its expiration date is never a good idea...
We've all had a skincare product in our bathroom that smelled a little 'odd', but due to our desire to minimise waste or save money, we've decided to use it up anyway. But consider this...how often are you eating foods that smell 'odd'?
Wanting to avoid waste is understandable, however using products that are old or out of date increases the risk of experiencing issues such as irritation, rashes, acne, or infections - conditions we may have bought them to treat in the first place!
Why a good clear out is essential for your skin and health
To illustrate our point, imagine a natural product made with plant oils - perhaps the very same plant oils we eat like olive, avocado and sesame oil.
Now, imagine these oils being used in a skincare product which was made 2 years ago. You've just bought a product containing oils that are close to expiry and well into the oxidation stage. Because you don't need it just yet, you pop it into your bathroom cabinet where it stays for 2-3 months while you use up an existing product.
Finally, you open it, and even though the open jar symbol indicates 'use 6 months after opening' that product is already, according to MV Skintherapy Founder and Skin Expert Sharon McGlinchey - far too old to apply to the skin.
Healthy skincare and self-care should go hand in hand so if you have a stash of skincare and cosmetic products laying around that you keep overlooking because they don't feel right, they don't smell right or they aren't doing the job you hoped they'd do, it's time to re-think covering your precious skin in them.
Plus, Sharon says that "a bathroom cabinet blitz is essential and truly satisfying!"
Sharon's 4-step method for a clearer cabinet (and complexion)
Step 1) Pull EVERYTHING out of your bathroom cabinet and give the inside of the cabinet a scrub.
Step 2) Discard any products you no longer use or love.
Check the best-before date on all remaining products. Throw out anything past its BB date, or anything which has dried out, is leaky or looks or smells odd.
Step 3) Make a list of what you're discarding. If there's anything you need to replace, head online for some retail therapy. Look for multifunctional & gentle plant-based products made by sustainable businesses.
Step 4) Wipe clean and replace the products you're keeping, and bask in the glory of your beautiful cabinet!
Knowing your stuff
On the other hand, many commercial chemical-based skincare lines are formulated to last well over 2 years due to the time it can take to 'go to market'. These formulations include quite potent preservatives and often display the number 12, indicating you should use the product within 12 months of opening.
However, by far THE most important information to read is the 'Best Before' (sometimes marked as BB) or expiration (marked as EXP) date because the open jar symbol is of no use if the product has already expired. Many of us continue to use a product long past expiry simply because we don't really think of products expiring in the same way we do food.
A good example is suncream. The expiry is usually stamped along the crimped edge of a tube which is unfortunately quite a disguise. If you use an expired sun cream, it may no longer be capable of delivering the protection you believe it should, leaving your skin susceptible to UV damage and sunburn.
Sharon's shelf-life extending tips
While it's true in both life and skincare that nothing lasts forever, Sharon explains how we can get the most out of our products.
Storage is key
- Avoid lining your skincare up on a bathroom shelf that is exposed to strong light from a window
- Avoid storing your products near a heat source including overheated lighting
- Avoid storing cream-based products in your shower caddy as contamination through condensation is common
- Basically, store away from a direct light or heat source
Create daily healthy habits
- For any products in a jar, always use a small spatula or cotton bud to remove the cream. Finger-dipping contributes to bacterial growth and spoilage.
- When you first buy a product, grab a permanent marker and write on the bottom or back of the bottle or jar the date you first opened it.
- Remember, if something tingles, itches or smells 'funky', remove it from your skin immediately and bin the product. Your skin is way too important to subject it to oxidised and contaminated skincare.
And of course, share the love, always! If a product has not expired but you are not really 'feelin' it, then pass it on to a friend or family member and - if unopened - consider passing it on to a local women's shelter.