Everyone has those wonder-working skin-care products that they can’t bear the thought of parting with (looking at you, Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte). No matter how much you try and fight it, even the most magical of potions can go bad before you get the chance to squeeze out every last drop.
“The issue is these items are wet and wet things rot,” says Erin Williams, founder of Erin’s Faces, who advises, as a general rule, keeping products around for up to a year. “You’ve also got to factor in the time it sat on the shelf before you bought it.”
Skin-care packaging generally tends to include expiration dates, which tells you how many months you have to use a product after opening it, before it goes bad (if this is the first time you’re hearing of this, please take a second and allow your mind to be blown). That said, there are ways to make sure that you’re getting the maximum use out of every tube, pot, and bottle.
Read on for how to make your skin-care products last for as long as possible.
Even if you love the way your serums look in #shelfies, your best bet is actually to place them far, far away from your beauty shelf. Your products last longest when they’re stored in cold, dark, and dry places, so be sure to keep them away from moisture and light (AKA not in the shower or near the window). Pop them in your fridge for a little added lifespan and the added bonus of a chilled-out formula on skin.
Buy (and use!) to last
It’s hard to pin down a firm “expiration date” for a particular product, because there are so many factors that come into play “If your product is packaged in an opaque jar, it can definitely last longer,” says Julia Teren of Thesis Beauty. If you’re using something in a pot or jar, use a stick or spoon (instead of your fingers) to scoop it out to avoid spreading bacteria. If you are dunking your filthy paws into a product regularly, it’s best to use it up STAT.
Opt for oil
Skin-care products can fall into either the “oil-based” or “water-based” category, and the former tends to be superior when it comes to sticking around for the long haul. “Oil-based products may potentially last longer because there is lesser risk of bacterial contamination,” says Teren, who notes that you should try to use anything water-based as quickly as possible because that’s where bacteria breeds.
Check the ingredients
When it comes to longevity, all ingredients are not created equally. “If your product contains fairly unstable compounds, like vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, use it up faster, because you need to also add the months that it has spent in the warehouse and in stores, plus oxygen that gets in after opening,” says Teren. If any of these serums start to change color or smell funky, it’s time to toss ’em.