Out with the old and in with the new.

Nobody wants an old and expired jar of moisturizing cream smothered all over the face, only to cause breakouts. Here is what you need to know about your skincare shelf life.

One important thing to note is that shelf life, which is what the FDA says manufacturers must determine, and efficacy, how effectively the active ingredients in skincare products do their job, are two completely different things. That being said, look for a tiny image of an open jar with a number on it, such as 12M. That’s the suggested Period After Opening (PAO) or how many months skin care products will last once unsealed.

Read and follow the labels.

A new season is the ideal time to clear out your pantry, fridge and bathroom cabinets.

When in doubt, she suggests checking a brand’s website, which may indicate shelf life, in addition, if a product’s color, consistency or odor changes, it’s time to throw it out.

Otherwise replace these products after these times:

  • 3 Months: Mascara. Mascara wands are exposed to bacteria whenever used, and eyes are more vulnerable to infection.
  • 12 Months: Foundation, powders and creams
  • 18 Months: Lipsticks
  • 36 Months: Sunscreen

Sunscreen: One year

Did you have that bottle last summer? It’s time to chuck it. If you exposed your bottle of SPF to heat thanks to storing it in the car or having it out at the beach, you need to replace it sooner.

Creams and Lotions: 2 years

Most creams and lotions have been given an expiration date of about two years. It’s a good idea to stick with that because over time contamination, separation, and changes to the formulation can occur.

Most of our favorite products contain active ingredients, such as vitamins C or A, and the efficacy of those ingredients is what helps our skin glow or prevents wrinkles. Effectiveness of many active ingredients, such as vitamins and amino acids deteriorate within weeks, or months, after they have been blended into a product. So the older your product is, the less effective it is. Even scarier is, if you hold onto your products for too long there’s a chance they might start growing mold or bacteria. Gross!

Pro tip: never leave products in temperatures above 77°F, to help preserve the efficacy of your products as long as possible.