Photo c/o @morganalicebeauty

Photo c/o @morganalicebeauty

The sun's out and it's not actually freezing cold for once which means it must be Spring! And you know what that means? It's time to give our beauty bags a much-needed Spring clean.

We're all guilty of hoarding those never-ending moisturisers and old favourite blusher brushes but did you know it might actually be the reason behind those pesky spot breakouts and dodgy red patches? Yup, here's why it's time to give your beauty bag a once over and start paying attention to sell by dates. Yes, really.

Sell by dates on my moisturiser? Really? We're used to fresh food but this is something else! What's the deal?

First, it's important to distinguish the difference between a sell-by-date and an expiry date. In food, sell-by-dates signal when a product's shelf life at the store ends. You can still consume food that is past its sell-by date, but it should not be sold by the store after this date . For skincare we need to talk expiry date.

Expiry dates are not at all common in cosmetics. This is because cosmetics, unlike food, are not required by law to have expiry dates. The current EU regulations states that cosmetics, which are formulated to withstand a shelf-life of minimum 30 months (2.5 years or more) do not need to display an expiry date.

Ok, so expiry dates are a thing, but why are they so important? Surely our moisturiser lasts forever…

Not true. The effectiveness of many active ingredients (aka the good stuff), such as vitamins and amino acids deteriorates within weeks, or months. This is simply due to molecule breakdown. So the older your product is, the less effective it is. Think of it like food, a fresh vegetable will always taste better and be better for you than one that's three weeks old or had preservatives added to it. Active ingredients in skincare make your moisturiser more expensive, and frankly, you're not getting your money's worth if they disappear after two months if not sooner.

PRO OPINION: Dr Maryam Zamani, Aesthetic Doctor - 'If you have a product that seems unusually discolored, lumpy, runny or if the components have separated, or if you feel there is a strange odor, definitely toss it. Using a product past its use by date can cause skin to become irritated, red, flaky and with more blemishes.'

INGREDIENTS THAT ARE AFFECTED: Vitamin C, Retinol, Retinaldehyde, Glycolic Acid

Jeez, we can't even remember when we bought our night cream. Is our skin suffering?

Once a cosmetic product has passed its best before date (or has been open for too long), the risk of microbe growth increases. In other words, bacteria and mold can start growing in the product and this can pose risks such as allergic reactions, skin irritation, eye infection etc. Gross.

PRO OPINION: Dr Stefanie Williams, Medical Director at European Dermatology - 'Products containing a lot of water are particularly susceptible to microbial growth and contamination (much less so powders). Also, if the product is labeled ‘preservative free’, be extra careful!'

Wow, not great then. What can we do? We want to use our fave moisturiser but when it's still good for our skin, not killing it!

It's all about the packaging. The better you protect your products from exposure to air, light and bacteria, the longer they stay good. Choose products with airless pumps, and avoid jars (the combination of large openings and fingers inside the product is the worst!).

Also, don't buy oils that come in transparent bottles, since sunlight causes oils to turn bad. Finally, cosmetic products should never be left in temperatures above 25 degrees celcius.

PACKAGING RULES: 1. Choose airless pumps.  2. Avoid Jars. 3. Choose tinted or coloured glass containers especially for oils.

Got it! The night cream is being disposed of as we speak. What should we get instead?

If you haven't heard of NUORI, listen up. They're the first skincare brand to introduce two dates on products: a Start-Using-By Date and an Expiry Date. The first one is around 12 weeks from the product being blended and tells consumers the latest they can start using a product and still benefit from the optimum freshness and potency of the formula.

The second serves as a reminder of when a product should be replaced by a new, fresh one. Both dates work together so enough time is provided to use the entire product so you're not left with half a pump of unused moisturiser.

PRO OPINION: Dr Maryam Zamani, Aesthetic Doctor - 'Pay extra attention to sunscreen. If you use one that's past its expiration date, you may not be properly protected from the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun and increase your risk for burning and skin cancers.'

Read More: Make-Up Bag Dangers (Beware, You May Lose Sleep Over This!)

Continued below...

And once your clear out's done - get your own personalised foundation recommendation (for free!) over on our sister site Powder.