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We’ve all been there; cupboards and cabinets filled with skincare products we bought many moons ago but haven’t got round to binning just yet. Different formulas will have different expiration dates, but one thing is for certain... all skincare products have a shelf life. 


Can my skincare products expire? 


In a word, yes. Products naturally degrade slowly over time even when stored correctly. Some last longer than others depending on the ingredients, preservatives in the formula and the way they’re packaged. If you’re suddenly getting itchy from a product you’ve had for a while it’s definitely time to let go and bin it! 


How can you tell if your products have expired? 


There is a way! Here in the UK, you’ll find a little tub and lid printed onto all skincare products, this is a PAO symbol (period after opening) and it typically has a 6m or 12m detailed next to it. Keep a note of the date you open your new product, then you can be sure not to keep using it past expiry. 


How can I tell if there is no expiry? 


Occasionally there’s no expiry PAO if products are from the US or elsewhere or if you can’t remember when you opened it. Use your senses to get an idea – is the smell a bit funky? The colour different? Sometimes expired products will separate, or the texture might change significantly.

What will happen if you use expired products? 


We do not recommend using any products that have expired. First up, they won’t be as effective, active ingredients breakdown over time and there’s potential for chemicals to alter. Sunscreen should never be used after its expiration date, it simply won’t provide the protection advised and could leave you in danger of sun damage. Expired products will also become full of bacteria and transferring that to your skin might cause redness, a mild rash or an eye infection! We hope you’ll agree, expired products need to be discarded. If you have sensitive skin, then you’ll want to be extra vigilant.

Can products differ with the signs of expiry? 


Yes, it all depends on formulation, temperature, time, and physical stress. Water based products are more prone to bacterial growth, so you might see mould appear. Oil based products oxidise over time – look out for colour and odour changes. Natural ingredients are often first to expire, and they’ll oxidise too unless the formula contains effective antioxidants or broad-spectrum preservative, but even preservatives have expiry dates. In other words, nothing lasts forever.

How should I store my products?  


Expiry dates are useful, but they’re also only as good as your storage conditions. Bathrooms are unfortunately not the right place to store skincare, the humidity and changes in temperature can cause issues for most formulas. Keep them away from spots where they’ll get too hot like windowsills or above radiators and try to avoid exposing them to too much light. We suggest keeping your products in a cupboard or drawer and don’t forget to reseal after using. If you’ll be putting your fingers in a jar, always make sure they are clean too! Just remember if it doesn’t smell right or looks weird, it’s time to throw it out!  

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