How Long Should You Keep Your Skincare?

How long should you keep your skincare? Image of Kiehl's Powerful Strength Line Reducing & Dark Circle Diminishing Vitamin C Eye Serum, Lancome Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate, Caudalie Vinopure Purifying Gel Cleanser, Yves Saint Laurent Pure Shots Perfect Plumper Cream

The problem with skincare is that it can become addictive. With so many new products launching and recommendation lists growing, it’s easy to build up an impressive skincare arsenal. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it can cause a problem when your skincare starts to expire before you’ve had a chance to finish it. I bet as you’re reading this, you’re thinking about that ‘moisturiser’ you spent just shy of £40 on that’s been sitting in your bathroom cabinet because you replaced it with another moisturiser that promised you smooth, glowing skin – sound familiar?

All of this got me thinking, how long do skincare products really last? And how can you check the expiry date? I did some investigating, and this is what I found out. 

If it’s been a while since you went through your skincare collection and decluttered, you likely have some products that are out of date. How to check? Easy in most cases. Most skin and body care products have a small image of an opened jar on the label with a number next to it; this is called a PAO (Period After Opening) and refers to the number of months you can use a product after it’s been opened. I’ll let you into a little secret, I did not know this! 



But what if there isn’t a PAO symbol on your products? Fear not, I’ve put together a few rules you can follow to help declutter your skincare collection and also some tips to store your products to make them last longer.


How long should I keep my skincare products?

The problem with skincare is that it’s so subjective when it comes to its expiry date. A lot depends on how the product is packaged (tubes and pumps are best) and the ingredients it contains. As a general rule, a product can last between one to two years, however, some products (such as treatments, acne formulas and sunscreen) can last much less than that. Unopened and stored in correct conditions your product will normally have a shelf life of around two years and then a further year once opened.


What signs to look for?

• A change in smell.
• A change in colour.
• The texture has changed (has become more fluid, thicky, grainy or lumpy).
• The product has separated.
• The product has mould in it.


Why should I throw my product out?

If you’re worried your product is out of date, don’t risk it. Expired products can affect your skin and could cause a bad reaction in the form of irritation, a rash or a breakout. Invisible bacteria, particularly in skincare jars cause a risk of contamination every time you stick your finger in it (cross-contamination); this bacteria can multiply at an alarming rate in a humid environment like your bathroom. As well as the health and hygiene risk, most skincare will contain active ingredients, which over time will become less effective.

Ultimately, what you need to think about is, if you loved that product, you would have used it up pretty quickly in the first place. It’s time to get ruthless with your skincare stash!


When should I throw my product away?

Cleansers – One year
Toners – One month to a year
BHA or AHA Exfoliants – One year
Facial or body moisturisers – Six months to one year
Serums – One year
Lip Balm – One year


How should I store my skincare so it lasts longer?

• Keep products away from direct sunlight – storing them on a window sill or dressing table near a window can cause them to go bad more quickly.
• Keep skincare in a cool, dry place. Ideally, you shouldn’t be keeping skincare in the bathroom because the temperature and humidity fluctuate so often it can cause your products to expire at a faster rate.
• Avoid getting water into your products, it can cause mould to develop.


Discover More:

How Long Should You Keep Your Makeup?


When Should I Throw Away Old Perfume?