TMG Investigates: Dangers of Skin Care Expiration Dates

Do you know the dangers of not paying attention to skin care expiration dates?  A while back, I wrote a post The Open Jar Symbol.  The open jar symbol has been the way that European skin care companies keep track of the “freshness” of the product for years now. This practice is far more prevalent in the US now (look on the back of any or your skincare or makeup products and you will see one).  I have been seeing all kinds of things on the internet where people are using expired skincare and having issues (like using an expired retinol product and getting a chemical burn OR getting an infection).  So I started thinking about it, and I decided I wanted to write a follow up post to delve a bit further.

The dangers of using expired skincare products aren’t just loss of efficacy but irritation and possible bacterial infection among other risks.  These other risks are entirely dependent on the ingredients used in the product itself.  Skincare in airless pumps are less likely to be culprits because the product is encased inside a device and therefore protected from outside elements that can cause contamination.  Creams in a jar however, depend on YOU keeping your fingers clean – so pay attention to that. A report from the FDA also goes so far as to say that “expiration dates are simply “rules of thumb,” and that a product’s safety may expire long before the expiration date if the product has not been properly stored, On the other hand, products stored under ideal conditions may be acceptable long after the expiration date has been reached.”

So how do you make sure your products are still good before AND while you use them?  Follow these 8 simple steps

Dangers of Skin Care Expiration Dates

The Rundown:

  1. Use the PAO symbol (period after opening) date or the open jar symbol on the back of the container. It’s a good rule of thumb.
  2. Protect yourself when you buy your product, use a small round sticker (you can get these at staples or any office supply store) and write the month and date on it.  Place that sticker on the back next to the PAO symbol and you will never be uncertain.  Remember, you don’t start counting until the jar is opened so don’t put the sticker on until you open the jar.
  3. BE CAREFUL about listening to advice on the internet.  Not every blogger or report is from a skincare professional and just because people love beauty products doesn’t make them an expert or qualified to speak on the subject either.  When in doubt ALWAYS seek advice from a professional or a dermatologist.
  4. Expiration dates aren’t ALWAYS reliable trust your eyes, and nose.  If it looks different (especially a change in color) toss it.  If it smells bad, toss it.  If the texture feels weird (especially after you have opened the jar) toss it. Bottom line, don’t be a hoarder, use it or lose it.
  5. Natural products go bad faster products without preservatives will lose their efficacy far quicker.  A good rule of thumb is if the first ingredient is water you have to pay attention to it a little bit closer (water encourages the growth of bacteria).
  6. When in doubt check the batch code the batch code is an expiration code used by a manufacturer to determine shelf life.  There is a cool website called Check Cosmetic that has an example of what a batch code looks like and where you can look them up.
  7. Store in a cool place it doesn’t have to be dark BUT you want to make sure that they aren’t near direct light, and make certain that you close the jar tightly.
  8. Wash your hands before you use anything on your face, wash your hands.  Just think of it this way, everything that you have touched all day (handrails, subway walls, doorknobs etc) will go into that jar and onto your face.  If your skincare comes with a little spatula, use that instead of your fingers.

Bottom line, take care of the skincare so it can take care of YOU.

Stay Pretty!! (and safe!)

About Lianne Farbes

Lianne Farbes is the Publisher and Editor In Chief of TheMakeupGirl. She is a Beauty Expert with over 20 years of experience working with makeup and skincare and has held every retail beauty position from sales girl to counter manager. She has made a living as a professional makeup artist and continues to spread her beauty knowledge through seminars and speaking engagements throughout the US. You can follow Lianne on twitter at @LianneFarbes or beauty related tweets at @TheMakeupgirl Follow us on Instagram at @MakeupGirlBlog for swatches and other cool pics too! You can also visit me on Google+

  • The 6th Sense.Co

    Great article – and very important information. It’s important that we try to move away from the idea of hoarding products and keeping them for extended periods of time. Though we prefer to formulate with oil based ingredients, (because of a combination of issues, including expiration issues) – we have to consider – if we had a fabulous cake would we really keep it for months on end?

  • Lianne

    Thanks for the comment – I agree. Cakes must be eaten and Skincare must be worn 😄👍