Like some romantic relationships, no matter how much you adore your beloved favorite beauty products in the beginning, if you don’t keep a close eye on things, they can get mucky after a while. Luckily, there are scientists who understand the ingredients behind skin care and beauty products, and can ascertain the difference between a product that’s still fresh and one that’s seen better times.
Check your natural and organic products first.
Natural and organic products often lack the same chemical preservative systems that more synthetic products have. As a result, many of your natural and organic products will break down more quickly upon exposure to light and air.
Know what to look for.
Look for products that have separated, changed in color, or which have a funny smell. All are indications that the antioxidants have lost their potency or bacteria have moved in and proliferated.
Try to remember how long you’ve had the product.
- In general, non-organic body lotion and perfume should be tossed after three years.
- Hair products after two years.
- Makeup (non-lip) products after one year.
- Sunscreen, skin care, lip products, and all natural/organic skin care should be tossed after six months.
- Most experts say one year for sunscreen—but there is evidence that some ingredients, like octinoxate, break down in the presence of UV light (Photochemistry and Photobiology, 2005). So do yourself a favor and get rid of them after 6 months.
Keep in mind that our ancestors in the 1600s used only natural products and medicines – and they died of bacterial diseases all the time. This is one of the reasons why so many beauty products contain preservative chemicals, and why you must be extra-attentive to all-natural products. Even if you use synthetic products, always check for separation, a change in color, or a funny smell. Now, if only it were that easy to tell when a relationship was going sour…