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Here's A Cheat Sheet for When You Should Toss Your Skincare Products

How long have you had that bottle of toner sitting around?
Here's A Cheat Sheet for When You Should Toss Your Skincare Products
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/martine
How long have you had that bottle of toner sitting around?

Take a good hard look at your skincare arsenal. You probably have a couple of products that have been sitting there, untouched, for years. You might not quite be in the mood to declutter, but now would be a good time to see which products are still usable and which ones are better off in the trash.

The best way to edit your skincare collection is by setting aside the ones that you use on a daily basis and start sorting through the ones you didn’t even know were there. Then, start checking each product’s expiration date and get rid of the ones that are way past their shelf life. Here's a hack: Most skincare products have a tiny little symbol of a pot with an open lid somewhere in the packaging—the text inside indicates how many months it can last after opening (Example: 3M means three months, 6M means six months, et cetera). Just in case the icon or expiry date aren’t legible or have faded over time, don’t worry. We put together a handy guide so you know which products are still good and which ones you can toss out.

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Note: These expiration dates are based on the when the products were first opened, so be warned that your memory skills will be tested!

Survey your vanity; here's when to toss out your skincare products:

Facial Cleanser

Toss after: 6 months

If you haven’t found the perfect cleanser for your skin, you probably have a couple of unfinished facial cleansers in your arsenal. Cleansers are safe to use up to six months from opening, but it’s also important to note if you find changes in its consistency or smell even before the six-month mark—don’t worry, though, this just means that the product might not be as effective as it should be...but who nobody wants to use a smelly cleanser, right?

Toner

Toss after: 1 year

Toners are formulated to balance your skin, remove impurities, and at the same time, helping your skin absorb your other skincare products better, making them more effective—so we wouldn’t be surprised if you have a couple of these lying around. If you feel bad about throwing out the product, don’t worry—there’s a way you can still use it! Just not on your skin. Since most toners contain alcohol, you can use expired toners to clean glass, mirrors, and even your phone screen!

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Serums

Toss after: 6 months to 1 year

It’s easy to get obsessed with serums because they target specific skin problems and they work because they’re potent! If you have a collection of serums, you might want to check if they’re still safe to use. Most serums can last six months to one year from the first time you opened it, but there’s no need to worry if you used them past its expiry—this just means you might not get the same benefits from when you first opened it. But as with anything, if something smells funky or consistency looks off, it’s better off in the trash.

Moisturizer

Toss after: 6 months to 1 year

If you follow a skincare routine religiously, you’ll know that moisturizer is something you should use on a daily basis—yes, even if you have oily skin! Moisturizers actually help balance your skin’s moisture level, meaning you’ll produce less sebum if your skin is moisturized. Moisturizers come in various packaging but those that come in pots can easily be contaminated with yeast and bacteria, so it’s important to always check if there’s a change in color, consistency, or smell. If something’s off, best not to use it.

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Eye cream

Toss after: 6 months to 1 year

Eye creams can generally last for up to one year, but those that come in pots usually get contaminated quicker, since you dip your finger into the pot each time you use it. Signs of contamination include discoloration and changes in smell and consistency—if you find any of these in your eye cream, it’s time to toss.

Sheet Masks

Toss after: 1 to 2 years (unopened)

We’re pretty sure you don’t need us to tell you that once you open your sheet mask, you should use it immediately and throw it once you’re done. But, if you like to hoard sheet masks for your DIY sparties at home, you might want to check your stash because unopened sheet masks can last one to two years.

Sunscreen

Toss after: 1 to 3 years

We’re hoping no one has to toss out expired sunscreen because it’s the product you simply cannot skip—even if you’re just indoors—and if you’re religious about applying sunscreen every day, you’ll go through a bottle pretty quickly. But if you happen to have unfinished sunscreen lying around the house and you can’t remember when you opened them, check if there’s something off about its smell, color, and consistency and toss it out if there is.

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Lip Balm

Toss after: 1 year

If you’re a lip balm kind of girl, you’ll find that you can go through a tube pretty quickly. But if you have a collection of lip balms that you rotate using, each one can last for up to a year after it was first opened. If your lip balm comes in a pot or if you like to apply it using your fingertips, you can extend its shelf life if you’re very hygienic about it—meaning, wash your hands before you dip your finger in the pot or tube each time (as you should).

Body Lotion

Toss after: 1 year

Like keeping your skin smooth and moisturized? You probably stock up on lotion a lot. Unopened lotions can generally last up to three years, but if the ones you find at home are already open, they’re good for up to one year from the first time you opened them. If you’re unsure, just check if there are changes in color, smell, or consistency—if you find that the product is not as fresh as it was when it was first opened, best to toss it.

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* This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.

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