Do you always wait until your skin-care product runs out before getting a new one? You might consider yourself thrifty, but if the lotions and wrinkle-erasing potions in your medicine cabinet are old, you're not doing your complexion any favors.
Moisture hydrates and plumps up skin cells and softens the surface of your skin, says Deirdre Hooper, MD, dermatologist at Audubon Dermatology in New Orleans. When your skin is soft and moisturized, it feels great. "Plump skin cells and increased water content result in a more youthful appearance and more light-reflecting qualities," she says.
Sounds great, right? So how do you know when it's time to trade in your tube? "You should enjoy how your moisturizer looks, feels, and smells, or you won't use it regularly. So if you don't love your moisturizer, or if it becomes expired, it's time for something new," says Hooper.
"I would go by smell and color when deciding if your moisturizer is expired," says Valerie Goldburt, MD, PhD, of Advanced Dermatology and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery. Some moisturizers contain ingredients that can be altered with time, and they'll turn yellow. If your moisturizers change color or you notice a difference in look or smell, then get rid of it; those are signs the components in the moisturizer are not functioning at their optimal levels.
The basic rule of thumb is to toss your moisturizer after one year, says Dr. Goldburt. While an expired moisturizer isn't necessarily harmful to your skin, you don't know what the degraded components are doing to the skin. If it feels different than it did when you first opened the bottle, you shouldn't use it on your skin.
Pick moisturizers in pumps and tubes over jars you have to dip your fingers in to. These containers can be breeding grounds for bacteria, and keeping germs out means your lotion will last longer. Also, check the label for active ingredients in your moisturizer—the more active ingredients (like SPF) it contains, the sooner it will expire. Store your moisturizer in a spot that's at least 10 degrees cooler than normal room temperature to help it last longer. [Real Simple]
Bottom line: Look for any changes in color, smell, and texture, but definitely toss your moisturizer if it's been a year since you've purchased it.