In a perfect world, our favorite skincare would have a fairy tale ending and live happily ever after!
The reality is that skin care products come with an expiry date.
WHAT DOES EXPIRY DATE MEAN?
Expiry date does not mean that your products will suddenly stop working on the date that is printed on the bottle.
It also does not necessarily mean that the product will harm you or do damage to the skin after that date.
Expiry date is an indication that the active ingredients in the skincare you have purchased will no longer be as effective as they used to be.
So your sunscreen that promised protection of SPF 50 for example may no longer give you that level of protection past the expiration date printed on the bottle.
SO, DO EXPIRY DATES MATTER?
Yes, expiry dates matter.
Products that are way past their expiry dates can have a change in their chemistry, can go rancid and can stop doing anything beneficial for your skin.
In extreme cases they can cause your skin to break out or cause an allergic reaction.
WHERE CAN I SEE THE EXPIRY DATES ON MY SKIN CARE?
Take a look at the fine print on your bottle, jar or container.
All brands are required by law to clearly mention the following information on their products:
- Date of Manufacturing
- Date of Expiry
This information is to be mentioned on the outer carton (if that is the case) as well as on the actual container itself.
In some cases the expiry date will be clearly called out (December 2019 for example) and in some cases the brand may mention the number of months from the date of manufacturing. For example if the manufacturing date is May 2019 and your bottle says “Expiry 24 months from the date of manufacture” then the expiry date for that product would be April 2021.
WHY ARE THERE NO EXPIRY DATES MENTIONED ON MY SKINCARE?
If you have purchased your skincare from America, then you may notice that your skincare does not have an expiry date mentioned on it.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which is the regulating body for cosmetics and skincare in the USA, requires expiration dates to be mentioned only on what it considers OTC (over the counter) drugs like acne treatment products or sunscreen.
Instead of a clearly listed expiry date you may notice that these products have a small “open jar” icon with a number and “M” called out on it.
This indicates how long this product is good to use after opening.
So if the tube says “6M” it means you must use it up within 6 months after opening the tube.
WHY DO SOME PRODUCTS HAVE SHORTER EXPIRY DATES THAN OTHERS?
Expiry dates are a function of the preservative systems used in your skincare.
Preservatives play an important role in ensuring that your favourite skincare is safe to use, both before and after it is opened. Remember a warm and steamy bathroom is a wonderful environment in which moulds, yeast and bacteria can flourish.
One of the most commonly used preservative - and one that is present in most mainstream brands - is PARABENS.
Parabens are a class of preservatives that have been around since the 1950’s. While the jury is still out as to whether their anti-microbial mechanism is a cause of concern where human health is concerned, most naturals skincare brands (including Vya Naturals) choose to formulate their products WITHOUT parabens as a preservative.
The downside of avoiding parabens and of using more naturally derived alternatives is that the shelf life of your skincare will shorten.
This is why most natural skincare brands produce smaller, more frequent batches to ensure that you get the freshest and best quality every time you purchase their products.
HOW CAN I EXTEND THE SHELF LIFE OF MY PRODUCTS?
- Keep your skincare in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. This keeps its formulation stable for longer
- Tempting as it is, don’t collect and use too many products of the same type at the same time. For example do not open a new moisturiser and start to use it when you still have two that you are yet to finish. In general, unopened skincare products have a useful life longer than opened products
- Become a smart shopper! Products that are packaged in jars are constantly exposed to air and oxygen and can oxidise faster. Constant hand dipping with jar-packed products is also a source of contamination.
- Smart brands will package light-sensitive serums in amber or coloured bottles to further protect them from photo-degradation
In closing - it’s always best to use up your product within the time frame mentioned on the bottle.
It’s not the end of the world if you continue to use your favourite lotion a few weeks beyond the stated expiry date.
However, do take a look at the product as you continue to use it. If the colour, texture or consistency has changed or if it begins to smell different then it is best to discontinue use.
The general rule of thumb is “If in doubt, toss it out”
Here’s a podcast in which Vya Naturals founders Bindu and Kavita discuss this very subject. You might find it worth a listen.
Wishing you happy and healthy skin!
Do you have more questions about expiry dates? Do let us know in the comments below.