Behind the Bathroom Mirror: Are Your Medicines & Toiletries Too Old?

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Behind the Bathroom Mirror: Are Your Medicines & Toiletries Too Old?
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It can be hard to part with some of the products in your bathroom cabinet, especially if you splurged on them. So how old is too old? When in doubt, toss out anything that you haven't touched in a year, advises Yale-affiliated dermatologist Dr. Alicia Zalka. "Both because it's getting old and, more importantly, because if you haven't used it all year, you don't love it." For product by product tips, read on.

Toothpaste and Toothbrush
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Toothpaste and Toothbrush

Toothpaste has a two- to three-year lifespan. "While using expired toothpaste isn't dangerous, the quality can deteriorate," says Dr. Irwin Smigel, cosmetic DDS and founder of Supersmile. "The fluoride may start to dissipate, the paste may become cakey or the toothpaste may not foam as well in the mouth.” Replace toothbrushes once every three months or immediately after any illness.

Related: Dr. Irwin Smigel: Cosmetic DDS, Founder of Supersmile

Mascara and Eye Shadow
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Mascara and Eye Shadow

Most powder-based eye shadows last up to three years, while cream shadows shouldn't be kept longer than 18 months. "Mascaras should never be used for more than three months, and dry, flaky mascara has definitely passed that timeline," says Karen Asquith, director of education at G.M. Collin Skincare.

Related: Karen Asquith: Director of Education at G.M. Collin Skincare

Lipstick
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Lipstick

Lipstick is prone to harboring bacteria because you apply it to your mouth. For this reason, replace lipstick at least once yearly. Cutting off the tip occasionally, especially if you've been sick or have let another person use your lipstick, may prolong its life, says Zalka, who founded Surface Deep.

Related: Dr. Alicia Zalka: Yale Affiliated Dermatologist, Founder of Surface Deep

Lip and Eyeliner
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Lip and Eyeliner

As with lipstick, toss out liners that you apply to the mouth and eyes after a year. However, Zalka notes that "pencil makeup can be kept longer if the end is refreshed by sharpening the tip regularly." She recommends cleaning the sharpener with rubbing alcohol weekly.

Related: Dr. Alicia Zalka: Yale Affiliated Dermatologist, Founder of Surface Deep

Foundation and Concealer
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Foundation and Concealer

Foundations and concealers typically have two-year lifespans. "Most concealers and foundations will emit an odor -- much like that of a rancid oil -- and can either produce a dry film encasing it or begin to show color separation," notes Asquith about expired products. She adds, "Quality products have expiration dates clearly printed on the packaging."

Related: Karen Asquith: Director of Education at G.M. Collin Skincare

Prescription and OTC Medicine
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Prescription and OTC Medicine

All over-the-counter and prescription medicines have an expiration date listed on them. This is the date given by the manufacturer that ensures the full potency and safety of the drug. According to Harvard University, this expiration date doesn't necessarily indicate a drug's effectiveness or safety, and medical authorities say many expired drugs are still safe to take. Call your doctor to discuss your medications before taking them past the expiration date.

Moisturizer and Sunscreen
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Moisturizer and Sunscreen

Generally, moisturizers and sunscreens last up to a year after opening and up to three years prior to opening. “An average, 4-ounce bottle of sunscreen should last a year," notes Zalka. "If you don't use it all in a year, it means you are not applying the correct amount or as often as needed, or you don't venture outdoors.”

Related: Dr. Alicia Zalka: Yale Affiliated Dermatologist, Founder of Surface Deep

Nail Polish
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Nail Polish

Most nail polishes don't have expiration dates listed on them, but like mascara, you can tell when it's time to toss them. Nail polish past its prime is thick and doesn't apply evenly to the nail. In some cases, you can remedy a goopy nail polish with a few drops of acetone, but this is only a temporary fix.

Hair Care Products
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Hair Care Products

Always refer to the expiration date on your hair care products when cleaning out your cabinets. If there's no expiration date, you can usually keep hair care products for up to three years. This includes shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, mousse and hair spray.

Skin-cleansing Products
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Skin-cleansing Products

As a general rule of thumb, skin-cleansing products are OK to use six to 12 months after opening, depending on the product. If you haven't opened the cleanser yet, it may last two to three years from the manufacture date.

Antiaging Skin Products
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Antiaging Skin Products

Many quality antiaging products have expiration dates listed on the packaging, so abide by that date. If you cannot find the date, they generally keep up to 12 months after opening and three years from the manufacture date, says Asquith.

Related: Karen Asquith: Director of Education at G.M. Collin Skincare

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