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Spring is here and may have you digging out last year’s products in preparation for the season change. Let’s take a deep dive into expired skincare products and why it’s so important to not only spring clean your home but also your medicine cabinet! All skin care products expire, but not all products are equal in this regard. It’s time to answer those questions and get informed people! 

As with many things, skin care products expire. Why is this important to know and what happens if you use out of date serums, moisturizers, and sunscreens? All skin care products are not created equal and some may have a longer shelf life than others. Here are a few examples of skin care products and their life expectancy before becoming hazardous to your skin’s health. 

  • Moisturizer
    • Opened: Up to 1 year 
    • Unopened: 2 to 3 years or until printed expiration date
  • SPF
    • Opened: 6 months to a year
    • Unopened: 2 to 3 years or until printed expiration date
  • Serums and Retinols
    • Unopened or Open no longer than 1 year

So what happens to skin care products that are out of date? As time passes, products not only lose potency but they also can transition into other compounds, which can result in adverse effects on your skin. Sun screen is a great example of loss of potency after expiration. The SPF rating should not be considered when sunscreen has expired and is proven to have drastically reduced UVA and UVB protection. According to Shari Marchbein, a board certified dermatologist, “SPF will become less effective when expired, which means a significant increase in the potential for sunburns, sun damage, brown spots, and the risk for skin cancer development.” This is especially true with chemical sunscreens that contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, and homosalate, which can oxidize and become less effective. Physical sunscreens that contain zinc and titanium are less susceptible to degradation but do lose SPF rating as they age. 

In regards to all products that are expired, one must consider not only the loss of effectiveness for each ingredient but the growth of acne causing bacteria introduced to the products with daily use. This means that products aimed to clear and repair skin could actually infect and damage it instead. 

So you have expired skin care products: no problem! We can help you replace and replenish your skincare products just in time for a summer full of fun in the sun! Spring time products that are especially important are Vitamin C, Moisturizer, and SPF so we recommend you start there. The spring time has an especially high UV index, so for those replacing retinol or adding to the regimen, you should start at a level lower than usual. Retinoic acid is proven to increase the likelihood of sunburn and skin damage related to the sun.