Even if presenting your beautiful pots, jars, and bottles of creams and perfumes on a dresser or the bathroom countertop makes a fancy display, it may not be the best for your products. Wouldn’t it be sad that storing your high quality skin care products that you’ve invested in would spoil much quicker when they’re stored in the wrong place?

All your skin and hair care, as well as makeup products, have an expiration date. Depending on the formulation and packaging, some may want longer and if you store them properly, they work better for longer.

How you store a product can affect its efficacy

Simple environmental factors can not only impact how effective a product is but also its shelf life. Environmental factors are for example heat, humidity, and light and can speed up the oxidisation and degradation of ingredients.

How to know how long it will last?

Has your favourite mascara gone dry and flaky? Did your dependable moisturiser suddenly leave you with a rash? That’s a tell-tale sign they’re past their prime.

Even if it may seem harmless, hanging on to beauty products after the expiration date may in fact compromise your skin. All beauty products have an expiration date, but only products that are regulated as over-the-counter drugs show the expiration date on the packaging.

To make matters worse, some beauty products have an expiration date, others a period after opening (PAO) printed on their packaging. The last category of products doesn’t have anything that indicates how long they’re good for.

The expiration date or “best before date” is indicated with or without an hourglass symbol with a date stamped nearby. This is required for a product that has a shelf life of under 30 months and it’s best to use it before the indicated date.

Expiration date on a Korean skin care product

The PAO symbol is a little tub-and-lid with a 6M or 12M in it. Most products have a shelf life of over 30 months when unopened. The number 12M for example, gives you the number of months it’s safe to use your product after opening. Just remember, it’s only an estimate and depends on how often you use the product, keep the lid tightly shut, and where you store it, it may affect how long your product will last.

Period after opening of 12 months on a Korean skin care product

How to keep it in good shape?

Even if these symbols are helpful, they may still be difficult to follow. If you’re lucky, the best before date or the period after opening is printed on the jar or bottle itself. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s printed on the box.

These symbols are not a 100% accurate indication. They don’t take into consideration how you store the product once you’ve bought it. Where and how you store it can shorten how long it’s good for.

Here are some tips to help you keep your product clean and remember when you opened it:

  • Write the date of opening on the label of your product
  • Wash your hands before you dip your finger in a jar or a pot or use a spatula to scoop out the product
  • If a product changed its colour from when you first opened it, bin it
  • If a product changed its consistency, like for example it has separated into a watery and lumpy part, toss it
  • If a product changed its odour, throw it away

These tips can help you extend the shelf life of your products so that they last longer and work better.

Stay out of the sun

If your skin care product contains natural or active ingredients, particularly vitamin C, they keep better in the dark. Vitamin C is notoriously unstable. It’s prone to break down when it comes in contact with light, heat, and oxygen. That’s also the reason why most vitamin C serums come in dark bottles.

Not only skin care products can be kept longer in a cool and dark place. Most of your makeup and especially fragrances do better. In general, sunlight speeds up the degradation of a product by heating it up and breaking down the chemical bonds. Even worse, the heat caused by the sunlight can warp or melt the plastic of the packaging.

Avoid humidity

The bathroom may be the most convenient to store your skin care products – you can reach for your toner immediately after you leave a shower. But it’s the worst place to keep them.

First of all, the steam from your shower or bath isn’t doing your beauty products any favours. It can very quickly break down the actives in your products. Then, microbes thrive in heat and moisture.

The bathroom is a double-whammy for your beauty products. Not only will your products lose their efficacy faster but you also run the risk of creating the perfect breeding ground for microbes to grow.

Someplace cool

The best place to stash your products is somewhere dark, dry, and cool. Heat has the same effect as light and shortens the shelf life of your products.

That’s not to say you have to keep your skin care in the fridge. Skin care products are formulated so that they can take the average room temperature fluctuations, but not long-term cold. There’s also no reason to keep them in a fridge since most of them contain preservatives. It’s better to store them at constant temperature and prevent wide temperature variations, especially heat.

But you can place a hydrating mist or an aloe vera gel in the fridge before use. The cool temperature can be pleasing and have a cooling effect particularly in warm weather or after a long day in the sun.

Cool doesn’t mean freezing. Extremely cold temperatures can be just as bad as heat. Emulsions, these are creams or lotions become unstable and separate into the watery and oily parts when frozen and later thawed.

Bottom line

It’s one thing to store your products in a cool, dark, and dry place so that you can prolong their efficacy and so maximise your results.

But it’s also a good idea to be vigilant with keeping microbes at bay with your beauty products. Especially if you’re taking your ducts to go anywhere, the gym or in your car, it’s recommendable to regularly clean the outside of your products. Also, clean the surfaces where your products are stored.

The way you handle your products is just as important. Handle your products in a sanitary way. Wash your hands before you start your routine. Handle your products with dry and clean hands and use a fresh cotton button to scoop out what you need. Also, replace the lid promptly and tightly. Don’t share your beauty products with others to avoid unnecessary risk.

If you liked how you can care for your beauty products and thereby maximise your results, I’d be so grateful if you could share it on social media.

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