Toss Your Stash: When to Let Go of Your Beauty & Skin-Care Products
I have a confession: I am a product hoarder. I collect the most ridiculous beauty and skin-care products (I really didn’t need that glitter mascara and I own about 50 shades of red nail polish); I have an entire room dedicated to my makeup and nail polish and a closet with the sole purpose of housing my hair products and skincare goodies; and throwing out any of it is unthinkable… because you really never know when you’ll need black lip gloss (yes, I own that too. Two of them).
The fact of the matter is I would venture to guess a good 60 percent of my treasure (Ariel has nothing on me) is expired, useless and needs to find a new home in the garbage. But how does someone go about figuring out when to throw away products that haven’t been completely used up, especially if there’s no date stamp?
We caught up with Renee Rouleau of Renee Rouleau For Beautiful Skin and Manhattan Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Rebecca Baxt, to figure out when it’s time to toss your beauty products, once and for all.
Two-Year Shelf Life
Most dermatologists, estheticians and mothers alike will tell you to keep your hands away from your face. Why? Our hands, even when we wash them, come in direct contact with all sorts of bacteria and germs that, in turn, when placed on our delicate facial skin, create all sorts of problems from acne to irritation.
For this same reason, products that do not come in direct contact with our dirty little hands can last much longer than other products.
“Products that don’t come in direct contact with your fingers or skin, such as an eye cream, lotion or serum in a pump or tube, have a shelf life of two years,” Rouleau says.
By not touching our beloved creams and lotions with our fingers, we are sparing them contamination from excessive bacteria which renders them useless much more quickly.
One-Year Shelf Life
“For products that come in contact with your fingertips or direct contact with skin, the shelf life is one year,” explains Rouleau.
Tip: If your favorite facial cream or moisturizer comes in a jar, and you plan to use it for more than a month, be sure not to use dirty fingers to take out the product!
“You can stick a clean Q-tip or an applicator in to remove the product,” suggests Dr. Baxt. “At the very least, wash your hands before you stick your finger in.”
Keep in mind though, while taking the above tip can help keep your product clean for the given shelf life, it won’t extend the shelf life of the product beyond that.
“Not using your fingers won’t generally extend the life of the product because extending the life of the product has more to do with the active ingredients staying potent,”explains Rouleau.
Six-Month Shelf Life
For those to whom the idea of using a product that is chemically laden is unthinkable, the shelf life of your favorite organic products is much shorter due to the absence of stable preservatives to keep the products “fresh.”
“If it is paraben-free or an organic product, then expect a shelf life of six months,” Rouleau says.
Both experts agree that it’s important to keep your goodies in a cool, dry place – never let them overheat and no direct sunlight! So, for those of you that enjoy hot showers, the bathroom may not be the best place to keep your beauty products.
And don’t forget: “Some products need to be refrigerated, like benzoyl peroxide products for acne,” Dr. Baxt says.
What I learned: It’s definitely time to do some New Year’s cleaning of my beauty product collection!
What products are you holding on to?
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