Janelle asks…I have a tube of Retin A that is due to expire in about 3 weeks. I know I will not be able to finish the whole tube by then, and will be forced to use it after the expiry date. I’ve heard people say that drugs can often get more potent over time, so the expiry date is just “something the manufacturers have to slap on.” Is this true? I know people will say to get another tube, but it is quite expensive, and I would like to know if it is worth using after the expiry date, or are the drug companies telling the truth when they put the expiry dates on?
The Beauty Brains respond:
Extending the expiration period a little bit is probably fine. But at some point the active ingredients (or the formula that carries them) will degrade which can cause a couple of problems.
Problems with expired over the counter drugs
For example, an expired sunscreen where the UV absorber has crystalized or separated out from the rest of the product will not coat the skin uniformly with the required level of sunscreen. And that means more sunburn. A fluoride toothpaste where the fluoride salt has become inactivated won’t protect your teeth even though it may foam and taste just the same. And in your Retin-A example, the emulsion could destabilize and deliver a more concentrated burst of Retin-A which could irritate your skin.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
At best using, using cosmetic-drugs after they expire may not HURT you but it may also not provide the benefits you’re looking for. In the worst case, you could end up with pre-cancerous sunburn, cavities in your teeth, and an irritated face. Pay attention to expiration dates!
Note: If, after reading this, you continue to use this product after the expiration date and you’re face becomes horribly disfigured, please promise not to sue us.
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