Can Skincare Products Stop Working?

Photo by Ryan Arya from Pexels

Skincare has made scientific leaps and bounds over the past ten years, at least in terms of what’s available to a wide audience cost-wise. I don’t know, maybe our favorite Hollywood stars from the 90’s always had vitamin C, retinol, and glycolic acid at their disposal. It doesn’t look like it. (Ba-doomp-doomp. Ching.) It’s probably safe to say skincare advancements that help everyone look younger are relatively new.

But what are the long term effects, if any, of using such advanced skincare? I mean, we’re no longer dipping our noses in honey, here, these are raw chemicals. What happens when the jig is up? Can skincare products stop working? And what happens if the skincare you buy is based more in feel-good, smell-good than in actual science? Let’s answer some of these questions.

Are Skincare Products Regulated By the Government, Like Food?

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating both food and cosmetics that go on the market. When it comes to cosmetics, however, the FDA is only making sure that the product is labeled accurately. Whether it works as stated or has dangerous quantities of some chemicals is up to the manufacturer.

There are a few ingredients that are restricted by the government. Apart from that, no testing is required for the skincare products you’re using and the industry is largely based on trust.

That said, there are a variety of products that don’t work period, or that stop working quicker than what’s stated on the label.

Do Collagen Creams Work on Lines and Wrinkles?

As a molecule, collagen is too large to be absorbed into the skin topically. So the answer is, “No.” It might provide some hydration benefits, though.

Solution. When taken internally, however, collagen peptides can help improve collagen levels in the body. Eventually, those benefits might make it around to your skin.

Retinol, vitamin C, and glycolic acid do help with collagen production at skin-site. But there are a few problems with these, too.

How Quickly Does Vitamin C Skincare Expire?

First of all, turn the product around and make sure you have the best form of vitamin C for skincare, which is L-ascorbic acid. If your product contains a different form of vitamin C, look on the website to see if they have a good reason behind that.

L-ascorbic acid is the main ingredient in vitamin C skincare that’s worth it salt. It sparks collagen production in the skin, making it very effective at helping to fight signs of aging. But because ascorbic acid is an unstable compound, it becomes ineffective quickly when exposed to oxygen, heat, and light.

Tube packaging that doesn’t permit the entry of light helps keep ascorbic acid active. Otherwise it will oxidize within three months. You can tell by the change in color of the product to yellow or brown.

Solution. If you’re pretty sure that you’re not going to use your vitamin C product within three months, it’s best to buy an ascorbic acid powder. That way you can mix a little with your favorite moisturizer or serum as you go along. The benefits are more potent this way. Just make sure not to use too much.

How Quickly Does Retinol Skincare Expire?

Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A. They are also known as retinols, isotretinoins, or tretinoins. Retinoid-based skincare reduces inflammation and increases cell turnover. For this reason it works well on acne, acne lesions and signs of aging.

But the problem comes in with the reactivity of retinol with oxygen. Like vitamin C, retinol is an antioxidant. So when it comes into contact with oxygen, it reacts, changes, and becomes less effective at its original job.

Solution. If you’ve purchased a retinol serum that uses a dropper, there’s plenty of oxygen going into that bottle all the time. If you happen to keep it refrigerated, it might last you three months.

Does Glycolic Acid Expire?

Apparently this molecule doesn’t expire, although, naturally the product should be used up before the expiry date. Glycolic acid products tend to come in clear bottles with no special dispensation gadgets. So we could guess that heat, light, and oxygen don’t affect it at all.

Glycolic acid works about as effectively on acne, scarring and signs of aging because it turns over the skin cells. It also stimulates collagen production in the skin. But you’ll find over time that you need to keep increasing the dosage for the glycolic acid to work on your skin.

Solution. As the percentage of glycolic acid in a solution gets higher, it’s recommended to use it less frequently and to have it applied by a professional. Just so you don’t burn your skin off.

Do you really need all of these components in a skincare regimen?

Well, no. You don’t need all of them. It depends on how your skin reacts and what it likes best. Another factor to consider is whether you can get your money’s worth before the product expires.

…And When the Jig Is Up?

When the aging process advances so much that none of this gives you the results you want, it’s time for botox. Sorry. Your skin will age. At 70 you won’t look the same as you did at 20. It just isn’t going to happen like that. So prepare for the day when you will look… old.

All these chemicals produce temporary results. So even if you stop using them for a few days, you will notice the difference. That’s a boon for the companies selling these products, but for the consumer it means you’re basically hooked for life – unless you can get accustomed to seeing wrinkles and age spots in the mirror.

They know just how self-conscious you are about preserving your looks. So new products keep coming out, and percentages of active ingredients keep getting higher until the day finally comes when you can adjust to how you really look as you age.

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