Wanting to clean up your life this spring? Why not start with your skincare products? Here’s how often you should be replacing your items.

Guilty of hoarding skincare purchases, forgetting about them, and then discovering them years later? It happens to everyone from time to time. A 2013 study revealed that 97.9% of us have used expired beauty products. At first glance, many products will still look the same, despite being well over their expiry date. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are safe for use.

So, in the spirit of spring, why not start by giving your bathroom vanity a refresh? Here’s when to toss, and replace, your old and used beauty products for maximum efficacy and minimal reactions.

Look at your labels

Just like the food items we buy at the grocery stores, most skincare brands will have some kind of expiration date on the container. Some of them are printed as dates, generally at the bottom of the bottles or tubs. The most common ones, however, at usually at the back, and are indicated using a symbol of an open container and a number followed by the letter ‘M’. This indicates to users that the product will last for the number of months mentioned after opening.

Storage is important

As soon as you crack open a new product, it starts to depreciate. While some products might still be okay beyond their allocated expiration date, there is no guarantee that the formula won’t have changed over time. Using out-of-date products can lead to concerns, including acne, flare-ups of existing conditions and allergic reactions.

But what about those unopened but expired spoils? If the seal is still intact, most products, including face creams and cleansers, can last between one and three years if stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Items that contain actives and sunscreens, however, may be less effective if not used in the recommended time.

Despite what you might think, the FDA does not require skincare brands to put an expiration date on their products. So if your bottles are bare when it comes to additional information, here’s a guide to knowing if your favorite opened products are still good, or if it’s time to replace them.

  • Moisturizers 6 months – 1 year
  • Serums 6 months – 1 year
  • Cleansers 1 year
  • Toners 6 months – 1 year
  • Physical exfoliators 1 year
  • Masks 1 year
  • Eye creams 1 year
  • Lip balms 6 months – 1 year