Are Expired Skin Care Products Bad For Your Skin?

Believe it or not, makeup and skin care products have an expiration date. Much like foods and beverages, cosmetics also have a shelf life (via Byrdie). That's because skin care and makeup formulas can degrade over time and become exposed to potentially harmful bacteria. 

"First, invisible bacteria can thrive in old products, especially in a humid environment like your bathroom," Teresa Stenzel, an esthetician and director of education at Bioelements, told Byrdie. "If applied to the skin, this bacteria can cause irritation, rashes, or breakouts."

Sticking your fingers directly into your skin care products can also help increase the risk of contamination by exposing them to mold and bacteria. That's why it's important to wash your hands before applying any beauty products to your face. If you use sponges or brushes, however, make sure you clean them regularly. They can also contaminate your skin and makeup with germs and bacteria. Using contaminated beauty products on your skin can possibly lead to infection and adverse skin reactions.

How long do skin care products last?

Not every skin care product has the same shelf life, however. As it turns out, some products last longer than others. "Expiration dates are tricky when it comes to cosmetics because it entirely depends on the product," makeup artist Austin Evans told Today. Generally speaking, however, products that come in liquid or cream form tend to expire faster than dry products, like eye shadow and powder. "The more wet a product is (take mascara or liquid eyeliner, for example), the easier it will facilitate bacteria growth," Evans added.

Mascara, for one, has a very short shelf life. That's because it's more likely to cause infections given the proximity to your eye. Depending on the brand and how often it's used, mascara can last anywhere between two and four months before it needs to be thrown out. On the other hand, eyeliner, facial cleanser, and foundation all have a shelf life of six to 12 months.