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Throw Away Skincare ProductsMost of us know that, come spring, it’s time to ditch our heavy winter creams for lighter, water-based moisturizers, but the step you may be skipping is buying new products rather than reaching for that same hydrator you haven’t used since last March.

We know it’s a pain, not to mention a hit to the wallet, to totally replace your skin care products every other season, but it’s necessary, says Brooke Jackson, MD, of the Skin Wellness Dermatology Clinic in Durham, NC. “Once products are oxidized (exposed to the air) many of the ingredients may break down causing the active ingredients to be less effective and potentially rash-provoking irritants.”

And while we know life would be so much easier if the brand behind your favorite foaming face wash just told you when to toss it, “Non-prescription items are not required by the FDA to have an expiration date,” Dr. Jackson says. “If a product provides and expiration date it is because the corporation has chosen to. However, the dates may be in code which is individualized to the company and not standardized. If your product does not have a legible, understandable date then you should create your own.”

That’s right, “Take a sharpie,” she says, “and label the date you open the product then toss after. If you open the product and it smells bad or the ingredients no longer hold together then it’s best to toss right away.”

So what expiration dates should you use when labeling your products? Here’s Dr. Jackson’s general guideline.

  • Face wash: 6-12 months “You should be washing your face every day so it should not last that long!” she points out.
  • Moisturizer: 6-12 months
  • Toner: 6-12 months
  • Eye Cream: 6 months if you squeeze it onto your finger, 3 months if you dip your fingers into it (bacteria)
  • Face Masks: 6 months
  • Face and Body Scrubs: 6-12 months
  • Lotion:  6-12 months

Oh, and that loofah you love so much? It’s probably time to toss it too. “Moist, wet Loofahs and bath sponges can harbor bacteria on the surface and in all those small holes,” Dr. Jackson says. “Over repeated use will introduce this to your skin, potentially causing infection (folliculitis) to your skin so make sure to clean and dry them or replace them every month.”

Chances are you’re going to be a little low on product after reviewing Dr. Jackson’s tips, but never fear. The good doctor also suggested a few replacement items for your medicine cabinet, depending on your particular skincare needs.

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