Growing up in a female majority household, it all comes down to how you believe the products will do to your skin pre-expiration & expiration date.

My sister, she has hoarding problems – she would buy new products and use them fresh, leaving the old ones untouched. She never bins, she collects. She rarely has spots, but her skin is extra sensitive – a little tug on her skin and the mark remains for three months.

My mother, on the other hand; when her skincare products are about to expire – she shelfs them in the fridge. Her motto, “If it’s in the fridge, it’s fine.” But she still looks great, no wrinkles and aging beautifully. Dermatologists hates her.

As for myself, I could not justify how ridiculously meticulous I am when it comes to product expiration. I toss them when they expire – sometimes often sooner than when what was written on the bottle. I realized that there is no reason to hoard bottles of skincare products at a young age (unless the bottles are photogenic). Crusty mascaras and facial toners’ ingredients separated in the bottle definitely will not end well for anyone.

All products degrade over time, even with different formulas. Most products are required to list expiration dates, or ‘Period After Opening’ recommendation. Basically, the shelf life of a product depends on the ingredients and formula, and most of the time – how you store and care for your products.


Now, how long does it take for you to toss products?


If you place your beauty cabinet near the heat and under the sun, the results: the active ingredients would become less and less active by time you’re about to use it. Time, as well as exposure to humid or damp air also play a  role.


For a product to be effective, it has to be as fresh as possible.


Ahead, are rules when it comes to investigating your products’ shelf life.


6 Months Up to A Year: Moisturizers

I once met a dermatologist whom have told me that most moisturizers only lasts between six to twelve months once it’s opened. He told me to avoid anything that comes in a jar as it’s prone to be exposed to bacteria – a shorter shelf life. Instead, he advises to purchase moisturizers with pumps. It lasts longer and well-protected. It is always vital to search for changes in the texture, color, or smell of the product; a surefire sign to toss it out.


Six to Nine Months: Serums

Due to the high performing ingredients, serums have a slightly shorter shelf life; from six to nine months. In addition, exposure to air will oxidize formulas such as vitamin C or other ingredients, losing their effectiveness. To protect the formulas more, it is recommended to purchase serums with airless packaging.


Six months to One Year: Face Wash

Different formulas of cleansers require different time to be tossed into the bin. For instance, if kept in a dark, cool place, oil-based cleansers can last up to a year. Meanwhile, water-based cleansers should be used within six months or closer. Although, in particular for cleansers that include BHA, AHA, or enzymes that can degrade or oxidize quickly.


Approximately One Year: Oils

Oils can last for a year or longer, and are more resistant to bacteria rather than water-based products. If not stored properly, these products can go rancid. Additionally, look for products with natural antioxidants such as Tocopherol for oil stability.


One to Two Years: Body Lotions

Similar to moisturizers, body lotions can last up to a year or two – depending on the formulation and exposure to bacteria. It is important to notice the changes in the product to determine if it has gone bad.


Expiration Date Check: SPFs

Despite the expiration date, SPFs can expire at an accelerating rate if not handled properly. Here’s an advice: do not left it out in the sun or in the car. Consider replacing if you have done that before.


Six Months to A Year: Foundations

After a six months to a year duration, non-powder face makeup and foundation should be binned . To monitor these products for changes is important; you would also have to be mindful on the tools for application that you have been using, such as brushes and sponges. If you don’t regularly wash your tools, you’ve been spreading the bacteria all over your skin.


Three to Six Months: Mascaras

For every three to six months, your eye products such as eyeliners and mascaras should be replaced . If you’re using a pencil eyeliner; you should sharpen before every use, otherwise you’ll spread the bacteria into your eyes!


One Year: Lip Glosses

When it comes to my mouth and eyes, I prefer to put fresh products. Even though lip glosses and lipsticks can last to two to three years of shelf life, the most I recommend is only a year.


So take a peek in your beauty cabinet — who knows, you might find yourself going shopping next Tuesday.


The Beauty Shelf: Expiration Dates was last modified: February 7th, 2017 by Adlil Zulaikha