Expired beauty products

Expired beauty products

June 18, 2022

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Is it bad to use expired beauty products?


There are two ways that beauty products may expire.  

  1. A product with active ingredients may have an expiration date listed on the label as dictated by the FDA. These dates are based on manufacturers demonstrating the stability of the product.  Beyond these dates, it is difficult to say if the product will be able to fulfill its claims.  Although unlikely for the product to cause harm, the reality is that it may lose potency over time.
  2. A beauty product can also expire based on the time from opening the product. Once beauty products are exposed to the air or secondary devices such as brushes, there is a risk of exposure to bacteria and other microorganisms from the environment.  



expired beauty products



How do beauty products stay fresh?


The preservatives within most products are meant to reduce the risks associated with microbes that can be introduced into the container.  Microbes can enter a product through several paths.

  • If a product squeezes out of a tube or bottle with a narrow opening, the chances of microbes entering are reduced.  However, it does still occur over time.
  • For products that require dipping our fingers or applicator devices, clearly, the portal of entry for microbes can be from our hands or other devices.  
  • Products that are applied to areas such as lips or armpits will come into direct contact with areas that have bacteria, yeast, and viruses commonly found.  These microbes can enter directly.

 


 

 

How long should products be kept if there is a risk of contamination?


Given the fact that beauty products are at risk for contamination, consider the location the product is used and the risks associated with these microbes.

  • For products that often come into contact with facial skin or sensitive areas such as eyelids and lips, it is recommended to toss products at the 90-day mark after breaking the seal. 
  • Products used on less sensitive surfaces such as blush and concealers may be reasonable to keep until the 6-12 month mark if taking care to use clean brushes and applicators.


Are there other reasons to consider tossing beauty products at a certain point other than contamination?


The other thing to keep in mind is that some beauty products will start to dry out once opened.  This will affect how the product applies to the skin as they may clump and not apply evenly.

 


 

What happens to your skin when you use expired skincare products? 

 

With expired skincare products, the most likely scenario to encounter with expired products is decreased effectiveness.  The most consequential in this category could be expired sunscreen.  With expired sunscreen use, there is a risk of decreased effectiveness and a false sense of security when exposed to UV. The other risk would be excess irritation from expired products such as anti-aging products. Expired products may settle or separate leading to uneven distribution of active ingredients that can contribute to further irritation from the product.


 

 


What about expired makeup products?


The risk with expired makeup products is infection.  The most significant concerns arise around the eyes.  Mascara applicators are rough and abrasive with a high tendency to inadvertently scratch the surface of the eye.  If bacteria, yeast, or fungus are present from an expired product, these can infect the surface of the eyes and risk vision changes. 


How strict are beauty product expiration dates? Should you definitely not use them past their best by date or is there wiggle room?


Beauty product expirations are not necessarily strict as many products are not even labeled with a specific expiration date. 


I tend to advise keeping a black sharpie marker with your beauty products to be prepared to write the month and year on opening a new product directly on the counter if an expiration date is not listed. 





If an expiration date is listed, circle it- there is a good chance it may be forgotten over time.  


If this has not been done, try using visual and sensory cues to freshness. It is time to toss the product If it is

  • Separating
  • Clumping
  • Changing color
  • Has an altered scent 

 

Although there is wiggle room with many products, please be cautious of any products used near or around the eyes.  I have seen cases of corneal abrasions and secondary infections from contaminated eye makeup.  

 

 

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