Using expired face products made it feel like my skin was burning off – I had no idea the damage it could cause

Using expired face products made it feel like my skin was burning off – I had no idea the damage it could cause

WHEN marketing manager Jessica Oram's friend gave her a fancy cleanser she no longer used herself, Jessica jumped at the chance to try a new product.

However, what the 29-year-old didn't realise was the product was actually out of date – and horrifyingly she encountered a painful rash that made her feel like her "skin was burning off."

Not keeping track of when skincare products are set to expire is actually one of the most common skincare mistakes you can make, according to online skincare retailer and experts, Face the Future. 

Recent research carried out by the brand found only 17 per cent of skincare users actually keep track of their products’ expiration dates, and it's a problem Jess now knows only too well.

Skin deep

In the bid to achieve that much sought-after blemish-free complexion, Jess, from Yorkshire, began experimenting with different skin products in 2019.

She says: "I started to invest more in my collection of products and became increasingly enthusiastic about my nighttime skincare routine.


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"I began to layer multiple ‘miracle products’ and serums in the belief that this would help me to see the results I was after more quickly."

Irritating issue

However, this was a move that actually made her skin more sensitive.

Jess says: "Almost immediately, I started to notice that my skin was feeling a little more irritated but believed this was a sign that my new skincare routine was working and it was just a matter of time until I started to see the results I was after.

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"Over time, despite my face feeling hot and my cheeks being constantly flushed, inflamed and uncomfortable to the touch, I persevered with my new routine – even incorporating additional products recommended by friends and family. 

"Looking back, it is clear that my skin was suffering.

"I wasn’t keeping track of what I was putting on my face or how long any of my products had been open, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to cover the reactions under makeup."

'It felt like I had burnt my skin off'

However it was one particular product that was over three months past its expiry that really caused Jess' skin to flare up.

She says: "The turning point came when I used an old cleanser that one of my friends gave me.

"Despite the product having already been opened, I'm ashamed to admit that it didn’t even occur to me to check if the product might have expired – I was just happy to have a new cleanser to try out.

"When I woke up after using the cleanser, it felt like I had burnt my skin off.

"There was a red bumpy rash on my chin that continued to spread across my lower face throughout the day and it hurt to even splash my face with water. 

"With no idea why my skin had reacted so badly,  so I reached out to an expert who informed me that my skincare routine shouldn’t be causing me discomfort and that the old cleanser had most likely expired and as a result, had stripped my skin of its much needed natural oils."

Worried about expired products?

Here, Kimberley Hulme, head of clinic at Face the Future reveals exactly what you need to do to avoid expired products…

+ Some skincare products will show clear signs that they are past their best, for example changes in colour and consistency or a change in the smell.

+ Usually, cleansers and scrubs won’t show clear signs of expiry but can still start to irritate your skin.

+ There are two main factors to consider when it comes to knowing when a product is set to expire – the expiry date, which starts from the moment the product is manufactured, and the period after opening (PAO), which is only relevant once a product is being used.  

+ As a general rule, you will always want your expiration date to be longer than the open date to ensure you have enough time to use a product before it expires.  

+ If a face cream is set to expire in August and has a PAO of three months, you would want to open it no later than April to ensure you have enough time to get through the product before it is no longer effective and could damage the skin.

+ Face the Future has launched a new range of skincare expiry stickers that can be easily placed on the packaging of any beauty or skincare product.

Rash decision

It took over a week for the rash to subside and for Jess' skin to return to normal, and she worked from home.

She says: "It was a real wake up call for me, and showed just how much damage you can do when you don’t pay attention to how your skin is responding to the products you are using.

Since this happened to me,  I’ve stripped back my skincare routine and have made sure to keep track of any changes in my products that might suggest they have expired." 

Kimberley Hulme, Head of Clinic at Face the Future, said: “Over time, skincare and beauty products become less effective, meaning that not only will they no longer help you to look your best, but in some cases can actually cause damage to the skin.

“While it is relatively common to have an adverse reaction when using expired skincare products, it is likely Jess had also already damaged her skin barrier as a result of layering too many active ingredients as part of her skincare routine. 

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“If you do notice your skin becoming irritated or increasingly uneven in tone, it is a good idea to streamline your skincare routine and stop using products that might be placing undue stress on your face.

"Instead, just focus on hydrating cleansers and moisturisers that will aid in your skin’s recovery.”

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