When in Doubt, Toss it Out | Product Care

image of products on shelves, title says product care guide

-Jenna DeCapua, RN, BSN

All of us know when it’s time to toss out expired milk. Personally, I am someone who throws it out a few days after opening, out of fear that it has gone bad. But do you know when it’s time to get new skincare products? Are you using the products for too long or throwing away products you could still be using?

Does it Really Matter if I Still Use Expired Products?

Yes! Our skin is our largest and most visible organ, and we want to make sure that we are taking care of it properly. Our goal at Q Med Spa is to use the medical-grade skincare products we carry to help address concerns, not cause complications. Using expired products can reduce the effectiveness of the ingredients in products or could possibly lead to a skin reaction, especially for those who have sensitive skin.

Certain products that contain active ingredients, like Vitamin C, lose their potency over time, eventually becoming ineffective. A product you definitely should not be using past its expiration is sunscreen, since over time this product will degrade to the point where it will no longer protect you from the sun’s rays, leading to sun damage and possible burns.

How Long Are Products Good For?

Many products have a shelf life that lasts for roughly one year. If you have had a product for a year, it is a safe bet that it should be tossed out. On the bottom of some products, it will show an open jar with a number next to it. This means the product will be ok to use for that many months once opened.

This is different than expiration date, which is when you should discontinue use of the product once the date has been reached. With proper usage, most of our products should last you 3-5 months. If you’re noticing that you’re not finishing your products within that amount of time, it would be best to speak with your esthetician, since you may be using them incorrectly.

How Do I Store Products for Best Results?

The best place to store your products are in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. The reason to keep products out of sunlight is due to the fact that sun exposure can break down ingredients in the product. A common place to store these items is in a drawer or cabinet. To help prevent oxidization of products, make sure all lids and caps are on tightly.

It is also on-trend to keep skincare products in the fridge, but keep in mind that some products do not belong there. Sometimes when products are placed in the fridge, it can cause oils to solidify or cause the product to separate. Make sure to look at the manufacturer’s instructions to see if it should be placed in the fridge or not, or speak with your esthetician.

When Should I Discontinue Use of Products?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when it’s time to throw your products away. Here are some tell-tale signs that their time is up:

  • Product color has changed (for example, if your vitamin C has turned brown)
  • There is a consistency change (it becomes runny or lumpy)
  • An odor has developed
  • It has been 1 year since opening the product

We want to make sure our patients are using products that are not only effective, but being used safely. A good rule of thumb is, “When in doubt, throw it out,” if you feel like your product may have expired. Speaking from personal experience, I have had products that end up in the back of my cupboard which when found made me ask myself, “Can I still use this?” We’ve all been there, but following this guide will help you know when it is the proper time to switch out older products for new ones.

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