Should beauty products be stamped with expiration dates like cartons of milk,indicating how long they will last before turning?
Some industry professionals say yes,pointing to increasing number of organic products that have shunned preservatives. Conversely,there are those multitasking unguents that layer chemical upon chemical,which can increase volatility and shorten the products life span.
As companies create more complex products to simplify consumers regimens,they end up with a plethora of problems, said Dr Joel Schlessinger,a dermatologist in Omaha,and president and founder of LovelySkin.com,a beauty site specialising in products mostly available in a dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeons office.
Instead of applying two creams,youre applying one,and there are certain products that simply dont play well with each other, he said.
Benzoyl peroxide,for example,has a shelf life of three months once opened,Dr Schlessinger said,and can degrade the antibiotics its sometimes paired with even when sealed. That doesnt mean it doesnt work,but if its benzoyl peroxide plus an antibiotic,youre losing the other products effect, he said.
Other popular ingredients vulnerable to heat and sunlight are plant extracts,antioxidants,retinol,glycolic acids and vitamin C. Packaging is also important: eye cream,for example,tends to have a high bacterial growth rate because it tends to come in jars,said Ron Robinson,a chemist in Manhattan who specialises in the technology of cosmetic ingredients and the founder of chief executive of BeauytyStat.com,which reviews new products.
Ingredients may not coexist well if they have different pH levels, said Dr Ruthie Harper,an internist in Austin,Texas,and the creator of Skinshift,a line of products supposedly tailored to a patients genetic makeup. One may be low-level or more acidic,and another might be too high,or have more alkaline. The mixture may render them neutral or inactive. Other ingredients may not be chemically compatible. The truth is,the more ingredients,the shorter the usage.
How short is rarely clear. Expiration dates on over-the-counter cosmetics or skin care products,with the exception of sunscreen,which is classified as a drug,arent mandated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies can perform stability tests and stamp their products accordingly,but its costly and time-consuming.
Most companies do not want to delay the launch of their product,which could take six months to a year, said Dr Schlessinger,who said he spent around Rs 3.7 lakh on stability testing for his product line,FixMySkin Balms,each item of which is stamped.
Just as with milk,expiry dates can be negated by improper storage or handling. Robinson said extending the life of these products is as easy as storing them in a cool place rather than in your bathroom,which tends to be hot,humid and wet.
As with any relationship,you need to know when to say goodbye. Robinson said,A product thats separating,has changed in color or smells differently are signs theyre ready for the trash.