skincare blog

Is It Time to Toss Your Cosmetics and Medicines?

woman_applying_makeup2If you’re like most women I know, you’ve probably amassed quite a collection of cosmetics and medicines. Various tubes of lipstick, half-used eye-shadow packs still with their original tiny brushes, foundation in different shades depending on the season, tiny sample bottles of body lotion from hotels. Not to mention, that unfinished bottle of antibiotics, the pain killers you bought on a trip to Mexico ages back and that ointment that the doctor prescribed many, many years ago. Sound familiar?

We keep these things around “just in case”. However, when it comes to old and dated cosmetics and medicines, you aren’t just accepting clutter, you may be putting your health at risk.

Logically, we know that toiletries and medicines don’t last forever. Most have shelf lives. Once past their ‘best before’ dates, cosmetics become a haven for bacteria, which can then be transferred to skin. This becomes especially problematic with products used near the eye. Medicines tend to lose their potency and therefore, their efficacy, but can also become risky due to a change in chemical composition. Just like cosmetics, certain expired medications are at risk of bacterial growth.

Proper storage is one way to help ensure that your cosmetics and medicines will remain safe and effective up to their expiration date. We tend to keep these products in our bathrooms, where the high temperatures and humidity contribute to faster deterioration. It’s not practical, but if it’s possible, it’s better to store them in a cool, dry place such as a dresser drawer, storage box, closet shelf or kitchen cabinet (away from hot appliances and the sink due to changing temperatures and humidity).

Spring is just around the corner and it’s a good time to visit your cosmetics counter and medicine cabinet. Here are some general guidelines for when to get rid of opened personal care products and medicines.

Cosmetic Products:

  • Cosmetics used near the eye (mascara, eye shadow for example): 4 – 6 months
  • Powders (including brush, bronzers and blushes: 2 years
  • Lipstick: 1 year
  • Moisturizers and foundations: 1 – 2 years
  • Cleansers: 1 year
  • Retinoids/retinol preparations: 1 year (start losing potency)
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (such as glycolic acid): 6 months. Alpha hydroxy acids can actually become more potent over time, increasing their potential to cause irritation
  • Antioxidants (like Vitamins C and E): 6 months
  • Sunscreen: 1 year
  • Hydroquinone: 1 year

Many personal care products display details regarding when to toss them away. Look for guidance and follow it.


Throw medicines away upon expiration. All medicines should list this on their containers. While many retain most of their potency, some don’t so it’s best to exercise caution. Pharmacies will often take back and properly dispose of most over the counter and prescription medications. Don’t dispose of old drugs by flushing them down the drain or toilet as the chemicals may find their way into waterways and the environment.

Check expiration dates on both medicines and cosmetics and if something has a funky smell or the colours have started to change, toss it out. Immediately discard any make-up that is in a broken container or missing a lid.  If you have a hard time keeping track of when you opened a new product such as mascara or blush, write the date on the product with a sharpie.  That way you’ll know how long you’ve had it and when it’s time to toss it out.

The old adage, “When it doubt, throw it out” definitely applies in this case. Keep in mind also, that your nose and eyes can’t detect bacteria and spores. In this case it’s always better to be safe than sorry.


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Korean Skincare is Serious Business

31629594 - attractive young asian couple, closeup portrait on white.“Cutting edge” and “ahead of the curve” describe perfectly the skin care industry in Asia. It is no coincidence that the latest and greatest innovations have come from the east. Think BB creams, cleansing oils and sheet masks. Notice how the cushion compact has been creating a phenomenon here in the past year or two? Yup, it originated in Korea.

So just how seriously do Koreans take their skincare? Pretty darn seriously, based on the time, effort and money they spend on keeping their skin as healthy and young-looking as possible. Good skin seems to be a country-wide, collective obsession: women typically spend twice as much as their North American counterparts on beauty and skin care products whereas SoKo men spend more than those in any other country in the world.

Unlike in North America where skincare seems to fall more into the female sphere of experience, Koreans consider cleansing, moisturizing and using sunscreen daily a part of a non-gender specific routine, and this shows. Young male actors and musicians are routinely selected to represent the face of a brand. In North America, where we are more accustomed to rugged-looking men hawking cologne, life-sized cardboard cutouts of boy bands in Korean skin care stores is a completely new experience.

We’re all familiar with the famous 10-step daily cleansing routine, but here are a few other tidbits of information that you may not have known about Korean skincare:

1. Heat is used as a tool. Facials that feature steam, hot towels and saunas are old hat. The newest form of harnessing temperature comes in formulas that heat up on contact or upon exposure to air. Clay masks and sheet masks are only two of self-heating products that warm up when applied to the skin to maximize absorption of active ingredients. You can use the same principal by allowing your daily moisturizer to warm up in your hand before dotting the face and rubbing into the skin.

2. Cold is your friend. On the opposite end of the spectrum, keeping makeup and some skincare products cool is key to extending shelf life and keeping bacteria at bay. The colder temperature of products also helps with puffiness and is soothing in the warmer months. Koreans take it to the extreme by having tiny refrigerators whose sole purpose is to keep skincare products at optimum temperature. Is this at all a surprise in a country which has coolers specifically for their kimchi?

3. Everything can be found on Beauty Street. The Myeong Dong shopping district in Seoul is comprised of approximately one square kilometre and boasts over 120 beauty stores, with some companies having multiple outlets in this shoppers’ haven. You’re just as likely to see locals as savvy tourists fully indulging in their passion for all things skincare. We hear it’s also a great place to get samples of the next big obsession.

Despite the reputation of SoKo skincare and K-beauty, the very popular Asian snail slime creams are still having a tough time making inroads in the North American market. I’m stumped.

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Spring Trends for 2017

cherry blossom 2Spring has officially arrived and with it comes all the trends that help us leave winter’s dreariness behind for the new season’s light and warmth.

Truthfully, most seasonal trends aren’t usually interesting enough to make me even consider abandoning my tried-and-true routine, but this year’s spring offerings seem to be right up my alley. Not only are the makeup, skincare and fashion trends doable but they also make it easy to either incorporate them subtly or embrace them fully, no holds barred.



Here are my favorite spring trends that I will definitely be trying this season:

Makeup: Goodbye contouring, hello glowing skin. Highlighting is all the rage this spring. Catch the light here and there, along the brow bone or upper cheek bones with liquid or powder highlighters or let loose with all-over “glowtions” that contain light-reflecting pigments for iridescent overdrive. Two-toned lipsticks are also a fun way to create dimension this season.

Skincare: Gel-cream hybrids are also starting to become more popular as the weather gets warmer. Packed full of active ingredients in a light texture that’s quick to absorb, look for these “bouncy” products in Korean pressed serums and body moisturizing treatments. Also be prepared to see more skincare boosters in stores for a bit of DIY customizing. Small, concentrated containers of antioxidants, hydrators and even color tints allow you to amp up your daily moisturizer with just a few drops.

Fashion: Stripes are everywhere this spring. Whether it be the sedate banker type or as colorful as a holiday by the seaside, it’s easy to add a bit of this trend to your basic wardrobe. Bold and bright or classic and understated, there are no rules for this most wearable style.

I have a feeling I will love these enough to carry them into summer as well.

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Customer Questions: All Things Sunscreen

sunscreen faceIs it too early to start thinking about sunscreen? Clearly, our customers don’t as we get questions about this indispensable #1 anti-aging product all through the year.

If you’re wondering about some of our sun protection products, read on. Alternatively, give us a call and we’ll be happy to chat about all things sunscreen.

1. Just wondering if you thought the La Roche Posay Anthelois XL Comfort Cream/Melt in Cream SPF 60 sunscreen would be okay for sensitive skin?

Anthelios XL SPF 60 Comfort Cream/Melt-in Cream is fragrance-free, has been tested on sensitive skin and is marked as hypoallergenic by the manufacturer. However, as those with sensitive skin may have a more difficult time tolerating chemical sun filters, you may want to consider something like Anthelios SPF 50+ Dermo Kids Lotion (which is made specifically for children’s sensitive skin and has a formula with higher amounts of titanium dioxide and lower amounts of chemical sun filters). You may also want to consider Cliniderm SPF 45 Gentle Protective Lotion which uses only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as its active ingredients.

As with any new product, and especially if you have sensitive skin, always perform a skin patch test to minimize any possible irritation.

2. I was going to order your sun screen but I had ordered a sunscreen from another website which has Titanium Dioxide & Zinc Oxide and I cannot use this as it is pure white and does not spread on the skin. It looks like something that would be used in a Funeral Home. Why is it like this and is your product easy to spread and is it also very white?

We recognize that finding a sunscreen that you love wearing every day can be a challenge. Physical sun filters titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can often be heavy and leave a white finish on the skin. depending on your complexion. Zinc oxide covers the full range of the UV spectrum, both the longer UVA (aging) and shorter UVB (burning) rays. Studies have shown zinc oxide to be safe, effective and stable upon sun exposure. While titanium dioxide does a good job in blocking the UVB rays, it doesn’t block all UVA rays and should be used in combination with other sun filters to cover a wider range of the UVA spectrum.

If you are open to using the much sought-after filters Mexoryl XL or Tinosorb S, you may want to consider Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Comfort Creme, Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Ultralight Fluide aka Fluide Extreme or Anthelios XL SPF 60 Lightweight Lotion. All three provide great sun protection with an invisible finish.

If you want to stick with physical sun filters, you’ll be happy to hear that we’re working on a formulation called Apothekari Shade SPF 30, an all-natural sunscreen with zinc oxide. Not only does it block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays but does it beautifully without leaving a white finish. Add in UV-absorbing red algae extract and antioxidant ergothioneine and we think it’s a winner. Watch for it soon!

3. My dermatologist has recommended using a sunscreen called Tinosorb-Bemotrizinol and recommended your website as a place to purchase it. I cannot find it on your site- any suggestions?

We are so pleased that your dermatologist suggested contacting us. Tinosorb-S (also known as Bemotrizinol) is actually one of the newest sun filters available. We love it because it is photostable, helps to stabilize other sun filters, is compatible with filters Mexoryl XL and SX and is not associated with any known skin irritations. Read more about it here in our blog.

You’ll find it in a few of the sunscreens that we carry: Anthelios XL SPF 50 Comfort Creme for the face, Anthelios XL SPF 50 Lait Veloute in the large 300ml/ 10 oz tube, Anthelios XL SPF 50 BB Cream and both the tinted and untinted versions of Anthelios XL SPF 50 Ultrafluid (aka Fluide Extreme).

If you have questions about finish, feel and suitability, please don’t hesitate to give us a call as we make it a point to try as many of the sun protection products as we can for first-hand information.

4. Is it okay to purchase discounted UNOPENED sunscreen, with tanning agent, from a shop that expires in a month? I won’t need to use it for two months (so it will be a month past expiry when I start using it) when I’m back in Australia. I can’t imagine it lasting much longer than a month or two because I’m fair skinned and pretty diligent with my sunscreen use.

Expiration dates for sunscreen and skincare are based on tests that the manufacturer has conducted to demonstrate how long the product retains its efficacy and safety. If a manufacturer runs a test for only 2 years, then they can only label that product’s efficacy is for 2 years. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will automatically ‘go bad’ or lose its efficacy the day after its expiration date. It just means that this is the duration it’s been tested to demonstrate that it is still safe and effective. A product could very well retain its efficacy for several years more, but there is no way to know without additional testing.

Sunscreens generally have a shelf life of 12 months after opening. If the product has gone past the best before date, it is most likely still safe to use. However, heavily discounted products with a short expiry date are usually final sale with no chance of refund even if the consistency, smell or color are off. This may just be a case of “Buyer Beware”.

5. I was interested in the site’s comment that Anthelios XL + Fluide Extreme (which we had used for years) has now been reformulated with Tinosorb and is now called Ultra Fluid. Surprisingly, the La Roche site is apparently not updated: it still says it is called ANTHELIOS XL SPF 50+FLUID ULTRA-LIGHT, and does not list Tinosorb as an ingredient. Are these the same? Also, we had switched to an EltaMD product, which had been recommended for my rosacea condition. I’d like to try the Anthelios Ultra Fluid but wondered if in the new formulation it is safe for rosacea?

You are right that the Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Fluide Extreme has been renamed Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Fluide Ultra-light Fluide with a new formulation. The link you provided has Tinosorb S listed with its chemical name, BIS-ETHYLHEXYLOXYPHENOL METHOXYPHENYL TRIAZINE. This matches with the stock that we currently have.

As for its suitability for those who have rosacea, it would be difficult to determine without a skin patch test. Because rosacea manifests itself differently for each person, it would impossible to tell if the Anthelios XL SPF 50 Ultra-light Fluide would act as a trigger. Those who deal with rosacea tend to do better with sunscreens that use only physical sun filters such as zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide.

6. I have used the Anthelios products for many years. However, now I find some products have been discontinued. What could I use in place of the Anthelios XL SPF 45 Spray? My dermatologist recommended these products because of the Mexoryl XL. Also, is the Ombrelle Facestick as good a product as the Anthelios Facestick?

With the Anthelios XL SPF 45 Spray Lotion being discontinued by the manufacturer, we currently have two other spray sunscreen options that contain Mexoryl XL: Anthelios Dermo-Pediatric SPF 50+ Spray in aerosol and in pump dispenser. We also have quite a selection of sunscreens in cream or lotion format that also contain Mexoryl XL.

As for the Ombrelle SPF50 Facestick and the Anthelios SPF60 Targeted Stick, both contain the exact same sun filters in the same percentages for effective sun protection.

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