While it may seem like no big deal to keep your skin care products until you have used up every last ounce, this can actually be quite harmful to your skin. In order for your skin to enjoy the full benefits of the products that you apply, you need to ensure that you toss out any skin care products as soon as they expire.

Bacteria Growth
As soon as you open a new product for the first time, you subject it to the bacteria that is all around, and, over time, this will build up within the actual product. A study carried out in 2013 discovered that 70% of women use at least one skin care product that is expired, and over 67% of those products contained levels of bacteria that could potentially be quite harmful, and have all been linked to bacterial skin infections.

Active Ingredients
Active ingredients are used in many skin care products, from peels to anti-aging creams to acne treatments. However, these ingredients are known for being extremely fragile, and it does not take long before heat and oxygen render them completely useless. While a product may seem absolutely fine to use, if they are past their expiry date then chances are that the active ingredients contained in them will not bring your skin any benefits whatsoever, and will only spread excess bacteria around your face.

PAO Date
In the USA, only products considered to be drugs are required to display an expiration date, meaning that most skin care products will not need to. However, some still do, and if you cannot see an official expiry date printed on the label, have a look for a PAO date. PAO stands for Period After Opening, and lets you know how long the product will last for after it has been first opened. If the product does not state a PAO date either, it could be worth looking up the batch number on the company website, as this will often lead you to more information on the product’s shelf life.

Spotting an Expired Product
If you are not able to find an expiry date for your product, then you will need to be able to identify for yourself when this product has gone off. If said product has turned runny or lumpy, experienced discoloration, or developed an odd smell, then it is time to toss it. Products that contain water usually have the shortest shelf life, as water encourages the growth of bacteria and other harmful microbes, while those containing plant extracts are also highly susceptible to bacterial growth and ingredient breakdown after exposure to the air. Products that are labeled as preservative-free may seem like a good choice for those seeking an all-natural product, but this will also mean that you need to take extra care of the product, as the lack of preservatives make it easy for bacteria to flourish.

From applying ineffective ingredients to your face to spreading harmful bacteria onto your skin, there is absolutely no good that comes from using an expired skin care product. To ensure that the products that you currently own are able to last for as long as possible, keep them stored safely in a drawer of cabinet, ensuring that the cap is tightly fastened after each use, and that your hands are clean before coming into contact with the product.