How Long Do Opened Skin Care Products Last?

All good things must come to an end, and this includes our beloved skin care products. You don’t eat expired food; therefore, you also shouldn’t use skin care products that have gone bad. How long do opened skin care products last?

To know how long opened skin care products last, look on the packaging for as it usually will tell you. Often it will be 6, 12, 24, or 36 months. If there is no indication, or you have thrown the box away, consider getting rid of the product within 6 months to 1 year.

An estimate for how long certain skin care products last are as follows:

  • Cleansers – 1 year
  • Toners – 6 months to 1 year
  • Facial or Body Moisturizers (including serums) – 6 months to 1 year
  • Lip Balms – 1 year
  • Exfoliants (BHA or AHA) – 1 year
  • Sunscreen – 2 years
  • Anti-aging and anti-acne products – up to a year, depending on the ingredients
  • Eye creams – 6 months to 1 year

On the container itself, look for a small image of an opened jar; this will have a number on it – it could be 6, 12, 24, or 36. These numbers refer to the months you can use this product after you’ve opened it. This is the period after opening (PAO) date.

Sometimes, this information may be on the box, and not on the container itself, so don’t toss it out just yet!

How Long Do Opened Skin Care Products Last?

As mentioned previously, you need to check the container of your skin care product or the box for the opened jar icon to see how long you can use it from the date you opened it. But what if you’ve searched all over the container, inside and outside the box, but there’s no opened jar icon? Don’t panic – here’s a quick guide that should help.

  • Cleansers – 1 year
  • Toners – 6 months to 1 year
  • Facial or Body Moisturizers (including serums) – 6 months to 1 year
  • Lip Balms – 1 year
  • Exfoliants (BHA or AHA) – 1 year
  • Sunscreen – 2 years
  • Anti-aging and anti-acne products – up to a year, depending on the ingredients
  • Eye creams – 6 months to 1 year

The below video gives some other insight and tips for how long different skin care products will last after being opened before they expire:

Keeping Track of Your Skin Care Products

Now that we have all of this information, what do we do about it? Frankly speaking, are you always going to remember when you opened a skin care product? Of course not! A good practice is to write down the date when you opened it with a Sharpie on the container.

In this way, whenever you use it, you’ll always know how much longer you have left. You can also make use of the calendar or reminder app on your phone to remind you when to toss out your products.

You could also jot it down on a piece of paper and stick it into your memo board if you have one – the choice is really up to you. However, you don’t need to do this for all of your skin care products.

The ones you use frequently and don’t last you more than 6 months are fine; you don’t have to worry about those. But for products like sunscreen where you only use a very thin layer, it’s worth noting this down.

Having said so, it’s a good idea to actually know what skin care products you have, and a general idea of their quantity. Just because there’s a sale doesn’t mean you have to go all out and splurge on new skin care products. Using what you have and buying only what you need will help in avoiding product waste (and save you money!)

How to Tell If a Product Has Gone Bad

How can you tell if you should toss your product out? Here’s where your five senses will come into play. If you notice any of the following things, it’s time to throw them out:

  • The color has changed or is different from when you first opened it.
  • There is visible product separation.
  • The product itself smells bad or unpleasant.
  • The texture of the product is different compared to when you first opened/used it.
  • There are black spots or mold on the product.

In a nutshell, if it smells weird, looks weird, and/or the texture has changed, definitely throw it out. The way a product smells is almost always the first thing to change when it expires. So when in doubt, smell it first before using it.

The Dangers of Using Expired Products

Using an expired skin care product isn’t the end of the world, but it’s counterintuitive for its purpose. Once your product has gone past its recommended period after opening, chances are its effectivity has decreased – like sunscreen for example.

The active sunscreen agent and the other ingredients in it may already be in the process of breaking down, and its consistency may not be the same as well. What this means is that you won’t be getting the same sun protection as before.

This also applies to skin care products that have salicylic acid to prevent acne, as well as those with retinol that prevent fine lines and wrinkles. You simply won’t be getting the same benefits from using expired skin care products compared to those which are still in their prime.

People with dry, sensitive skin are at a greater risk for allergic reactions, breakouts, rashes, and other unpleasant skin reactions when they use an expired skin care product. Skin care products with acids in them should not be kept beyond its expiration date – the acids become stronger and may cause irritation over time.

Hanging on to your skin care products that are past their expiration dates is not doing you and your skin any good. In fact, this may even be causing the problems you’re actually trying to get rid of. This is why it’s important for you to know when you should toss them out.

Still wondering how long do opened skin care products last? See the below video for more tips and when to get rid of your products:

How to Make Your Skin Care Products Last Longer – 7 Tips!

It’s actually possible for your skin care product to go bad even before its expiration date. Bacteria can breed and cause your product to go bad quickly. Here are few tips to make your skin care products last longer.

1. Always Put the Cap Back On

Sounds simple enough, right? But when you’re in a rush, even this simplest thing is easily overlooked. Keeping your product open allows bacteria and other stuff to contaminate it.

2. Store Products in a Cool, Dry Location

Exposure to direct sunlight can cause the ingredients in the product to break down faster than intended. This is also the same when your product is exposed to extreme heat and cold.

3. Keep Everything Clean

You should wash your hands before and after using your skin care products. Doing so can minimize contamination, particularly for products that you must dip your fingers in the container.

If you drop the cap, wash it with soap and water or rubbing alcohol before putting it back on. Using a skin care spatula will help you scoop the product out of the jar and onto your hand – a big help in preventing contamination.

4. Do Not Share Your Skin Care Products and Makeup

In line with keeping everything clean, you should also not share your skin care products and make up with other people. It’s simply not hygienic, and you are exposing yourself and the person you’re sharing your products to general viruses and bacteria. Think of it as sharing germs.

5. Avoid Using Direct Contact Products When You’re Sick

Another thing to remember is to not use certain products when you’re sick, like lipstick, lip balms, and eye products which require direct contact. You could be transferring bacteria from yourself to the product, and back to yourself when you use it.

You could end up re-exposing yourself to the same bacteria that made you sick in the first place. It is actually recommended to throw out such products – ouch!

6. Use Water-based Products First

Compared to oil-based products, bacteria breed faster on water-based products, so be sure to use these first. If water is the main ingredient in a skin care product, it will have a shorter shelf life. Prioritize using these, or maybe look at whether there is a similar skin care product that is oil based, especially if you don’t see yourself finishing off the product within a year.

7. Use the Right Amount

Using too much product does not increase its effectiveness. Just use the recommended amount and it will help in making your product last longer.

Conclusion – How Long Do Opened Skin Care Products Last?

So how long do opened skin care products last? You should find out by looking at the container and looking for a small image of an opened jar; this will have a number on it – it could be 6, 12, 24, or 36. This is the period after opening (PAO) date.

Sometimes, this information may be on the box, and not on the container itself. If this is not available, you can use this for reference:

  • Cleansers – 1 year
  • Toners – 6 months to 1 year
  • Facial or Body Moisturizers (including serums) – 6 months to 1 year
  • Lip Balms – 1 year
  • Exfoliants (BHA or AHA) – 1 year
  • Sunscreen – 2 years
  • Anti-aging and anti-acne products – up to a year, depending on the ingredients
  • Eye creams – 6 months to 1 year

Unopened skin care products can last a long time, usually 1 to 3 years. But once it is opened, the clock starts ticking much faster.

Keep in mind that it’s actually possible for your opened skin care product to go bad even before its actual expiration date. This is why it’s important to practice proper use, hygiene, and storage at all times.