Do skincare products actually expire? 

Short answer, yes! It’s often and easily forgotten that many active ingredients, as found in your anti-aging creams, acne treatments, peels, vitamin C serums, and more are fragile and do indeed have a shelf life.

Here’s a quick guide on some important expiration dates:

Replace after one to two years. Ever wonder why sunscreens have expiration dates but not your other cosmetics?  That’s because in the United States expiration dates are only required on over-the-counter drug products, i.e., acne treatments and sunscreens. So check the expiration date on your bottle and toss when you should.

Hydroquinone creams:
Replace after they start to turn brown in color, which is typically  a few months after opening. Keep the container airtight to help prevent from oxidization.

Acne products:
Replace after four to six months. Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acid can decay quickly. You can help preserve these fickle friends by keeping them in the fridge!

Moisturizing creams:
Replace after one year. Regular moisturizers without anti-aging or acne fighting ingredients will last past the one year mark. Also keep in mind when using moisturizers in jars, they are a breeding ground for bacteria. Keep the container closed tightly and use only with recently washed hands.

Retinoid creams:
Replace after nine to eleven months, That’s when their collagen-producing power starts to give out.

Vitamin C serum:
Replace after they have turned brown in color, which means they have oxidized and lost around 60% of effectiveness. They may even cause stinging and irritation. When shopping around for a new vitamin c serum keep in mind that L-Ascorbic and Ascorbic acid is unstable and tends to oxidize quickly. Look for serums with the stable ingredients such as  Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, and Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate. Serums with these active ingredients won’t lose their effectiveness or irritate sensitive skin like other forms can.

Grainy scrubs:
Replace after two years. These scrubs are made of indestructible ingredients and tend to last forever. Keep in mind that jars can become a breeding ground for bacteria over time.

If you have any questions on a skin care product I haven’t listed, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can! 


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