By Denice Schwind, PA-C, CMLSO
As the old adage goes: Out with the old, in with the new. Especially when it comes to casting a fresh eye on your skincare products for the warm-weather months. Not only is spring is an optimal time to segue over to a lighter regimen, but hanging onto an arsenal of creams past their prime means that microbes and bacteria may have compromised the quality of your products, resulting in the actual skin problems you’re working hard to banish.Because the FDA doesn’t regulate cosmeceutical expiration dates, knowing how long to keep things around varies; but here’s the current wisdom…
Toss expired sunscreen: You may have almost-full tubes lying around from last year’s trip to Cabo, but check the expiration date printed on the label or bottom of the bottle. While an old sealed SPF can’t hurt you, it also can’t protect you from damaging UV rays.
Look at active ingredients: A quick peek at the label will yield plenty of information. The more active ingredients a product contains, the less stable it will remain over the long haul. Moisturizers and creams—unsealed—should be tossed at the one-year mark; sooner if they develop an “off” scent or color. Sealed packaging can last for two-to-three years. What’s more according to Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, M.D., certain products—like retinol or glycolic acid—can actually become excessively potent over time, as their base ingredients become too concentrated.
Opt for pumps and tubes: Packaging that doesn’t require putting your fingers in the product is always preferable as it prevents the introduction of bacteria. If your pot of cream comes with a small spatula, use it!
Store products in a cool, dry place: Exposure to sun or an overly warm bathroom shelf can take months off the life of even the most expensive skin-care items.
Stock up on warm-weather formulas:It’s the ideal time to trade your rich, thick, winter-proof creams and cleansers for lighter-weight options. To scoop up now:
- Gel or foaming cleansers
- Light moisturizers (or, cut your heavy, winter products in half—using only a dab; even mixing them with your retinoid creams
- Vitamin C serum for collagen production (a year-round choice)
- AHA/BHA cream (containing sugar, glycolic, or salicylic acids) to exfoliate dry, dead flaky skin
- Multi-spectrum or broad-use sunscreen, minimum SPF 30
Swapping out and cleaning up your skincare program takes just minutes—but it’s no less important than the spring-cleaning overhaul you give your home. After all, you deserve to sparkle and shine, too….