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If you're the type of girl who holds on to half-full bottles of face moisturizer that you bought back before you knew what an iPod was, it's time for a serious rethink. Facial moisturizers don't last forever -- some have a shelf life of six months or less. If you keep them too long, you might regret it. Deteriorated moisturizers can cause all sorts of problems like rashes, breakouts, dermatitis and infections. Avoid that headache by replacing your facial moisturizers promptly before they go sour on you and storing them properly to extend their shelf life as long as possible.
A facial moisturizer in a pump-style bottle should stay good after you've opened it for about one year. Moisturizers in screw-top jars or bottles will expire faster, between six to 10 months after opening. Pricey anti-aging facial moisturizers that contain antioxidants and fatty acids may have a shelf life as short as three months. This is because these compounds degrade quickly when they are exposed to light and air. If you're compulsive about keeping your antioxidant face cream away from light and never leave the jar sitting around without the top on, you might be able to keep it good for much longer, possibly up to a year. The shortest-lived of all facial moisturizers are natural products that contain little or no preservatives. Consider yourself lucky if you can get six months, maximum, out of these products.
Making Them Last
To get the longest shelf life and the most benefit out of your face moisturizers, you've got to do two things -- limit the amount of contaminants that get into the concoction and train yourself to use the moisturizer in ways that won't make it deteriorate faster. Keep your moisturizer from becoming a haven for bacteria by never putting your fingers directly into an open jar of cream. Instead, use a clean applicator to spoon some out onto your palm. Also, don't share your face creams with your girlfriends, your mom, your daughter or anyone else. Make a point of promptly replacing the lid of screw-top jars or bottles right after use. Don't let gooey bits of dried cream accumulate on the edges of the containers -- take a few seconds to wipe it off.
Although this will seem like blasphemy, the first step a girl has to take to store face moisturizers better is to get them out of the bathroom. Bathrooms are hotbeds of humidity, bright light and huge temperature changes, all things that wreak havoc with the delicate compounds in moisturizing lotions. You'll also need to keep the containers away from sunlight and extreme heat, so forget lining them up on your sunny windowsill or tossing them into your glove compartment in mid-July. The best place to store facial moisturizers is in a cool, dark bedroom drawer or closet. If you've got moisturizer in open-top bottles or jars, consider transferring them to sterilized opaque pump-style containers to further cut down on light and air exposure.
Because moisturizers sometimes go bad long before their ballpark expiration date, it's a good idea to keep your eyes open for signs that your moisturizer is starting to turn on you. An unusual smell is usually the first hint of spoilage. The lotion will start to give off a weirdly sharp aroma. The color may also change, and its texture may turn clumpy, watery or oily. The website Cosmetic Calculator goes so far as to advise you to dump any facial creams that were exposed to very high heat -- in your car trunk, a suitcase left in the sun -- before they even show any signs of spoilage.