It is well known that a clean, tidy, and well-ordered environment will contribute to a healthier and happier home life. Our minds associate clutter and chaos with stress which can hinder our ability to concentrate on the task at hand. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat down to do research or write a blog post and find myself organizing my desk, filing papers, and even answering emails (tech clutter) before I can tackle my to-do list. “Less mess equals less stress” is right here. My instinct is to create a more appealing space for better productivity.  

Spring cleaning is also about our physical health as well. As a Nurse Practitioner first and a skincare/beauty expert second, I look at Spring cleaning cosmetics a bit differently.

Part of a good spring clean is just that, a deep dive into removing dirt, dust and yuck from hard-to-reach areas and cluttered spaces, but most importantly it is about removing those items that are expired, contaminated, or altered by time.

Cosmetics have shelf lives defined as the “recommended time a perishable product is considered suitable for sale or use.” Every cosmetic company is responsible for ensuring the safety of its products which includes choosing safe and effective ingredients, safe and proper packaging, safe and proper storage and safety testing including but not limited to Preservative Efficacy Testing (PET) and stability testing. The Cosmetic company and its manufacturer, through these tests, ensure that the numbers and types of microorganisms that could affect product quality or consumer health and the microorganisms introduced during normal use will not affect the product quality and consumer health. That is why the proper choice and use of a preservative system with an impeccable record of accomplishment was so important to me with THE ROUTE. Similarly, our packaging was selected with ingredient/formula protection and hygiene as our primary concern. What good are top quality, award winning formulas if you do not protect them from that which will decrease its effectiveness, strength and safety?

I mention all the above because spring cleaning your cosmetics has everything to do with the quality of your chosen products. Even with the most impeccable preservative system and normal use of the product, no skincare or makeup is meant to last more than 3, 6, 12 or 24 months (about 2 years) depending on the item. I have compiled a list of expiration or toss dates for common personal care items i.e., skincare and makeup and a bit of the reasoning behind each one.  

Take a good hard honest look at your cosmetics and you will find many items well past their prime and reaching into those that might pose a health risk category. Even yours truly, although a major fan of the spring purge, must admit I hang on to items longer than I should. My most extreme is that I have the lipstick and lipliner I wore on my wedding day 25 years ago (this upcoming November)! I will admit I will never wear it again because that’s just gross but why on earth do I hang on to other lipsticks and lip glosses well past their prime? Probably because they ain't cheap and it simply seems like a waste. So that begs the question: why am I not more responsible in my spending? Purchase only what I can use or that I absolutely love? So much of our cosmetic consumption is impulse buying and then we end up with much more than any one human can use over a reasonable period. I am guilty of it too. I will provide a few tips and guilt trips that may influence your next trip to ULTA.



Think, think, think before you buy yet another bottle, tube, or palette.

Unless you are ok with have any excess and tossing out when its shelf life is over.  

Will I really use it or is it possible to incorporate into my already complicated skincare regime?

If I do not follow the directions of the product, how can I expect results? In other words, if you keep falling for the latest and greatest but you have not given the last one time to work its magic. I fall for it too, but what it does is cheats us out of long-term product benefits and we clutter the world with half used bottles of expired products.


Nurse Nancy Nuggets:

  • General rule of thumb- Products are usually tested for a 2 maybe 3 year shelf life- that means it will last that long UNOPENED!
  • Once you open the bottle, tube, lipgloss or jar the clock starts ticking and the race is on! Products with high water content (toners, mists, serums, moisturizers, creams and lotions) last anywhere between 6-12 months. And that’s more than ok. You should go through 2 rounds of that product before that time expires. You see, in order for you to experience results you must use a skincare product consistently and over time, so theoretically, you should finish the bottle within 1-3 months depending on the quantity. I suggest using each product in its entirety before you open your next purchase.  
  • Manufactures are not required to print expiration dates or period after opening symbol - this information is readily available at the manufacturer but it is very safe to presume if you purchase from the brand website or big box retailers such as ULTA and Dermstore you are good to go. Once you open the product and expose it to air, light and changes in ambient temperature, realize you should continue to use it for best results. Tip: write the date of opening with a sharpie on the bottom of the bottle for a reminder.
  • Look out for your cabinet, drawers and makeup bag - keep them clean and do the toss regularly.  
  • Look for product discoloration, funky new smell, change in texture, look or feel if you haven’t used them in a while. Consider why? Impulse, pressure or desperate purchases vs using what you love. Try to sample first so your choices are better in the future (or just use THE ROUTE).
  • Store products in a clean, dry, cool location. The bathroom with temperature changes and high humidity may encourage bacterial growth or problems with stability (it shouldn’t but poorly formulated products could change) (Another reason to use THE ROUTE)!
  • Always wash your hands before handling your cosmetics so you don’t contaminate your products or your face when you apply your products!
  • The makeup sponge quite possibly is the most contaminated beauty tool depending on your cleaning protocol. SO gross - you should read the studies! Clean dry hands are a better skincare, SPF and foundation application tool in my Nurse Nancy opinion.


Common sense when-to-toss-the-products cheat sheet is below!


  • Body Lotion 1 year 
  • Cleansers 1 year 
  • Eye treatments 6-12 months 
  • Mist 1 year
  • Moisturizer 1 year
  • Oil 6-12 months
  • Serum 1 year 


  • Blush Cream/Stick 6-12 months 
  • Blush Powder 1 year 
  • Concealer Cream/Stick 6-12 months 
  • Concealer Powder 1 year 
  • Eye Liner Liquid 2-3 months 
  • Eye Liner Pencil 1 year 
  • Eye Shadow Cream 3-6 months  
  • Eye Shadow Powder 1 year 
  • Face Powder 1 year
  • Foundation Liquid/Cream 6-12 months  
  • Foundation Powder 1 year
  • Lip gloss 1 year 
  • Lipstick 1-2 years
  • Lip Liner Pencil 1-2 years
  • Mascara 3-6 months 



DO Store products in room temperature cabinet or drawer- products are safety tested for storage at room temp and any temperature variation my compromise preservative system, stability or efficacy

DO Wash your hands thoroughly (20 second rule) before handling products

DO Close lid or tighten cap after each use – products degrade when exposed to light and air

DO reconsider where you store cosmetics (bacteria loves to grow in moist wet environments) maybe the steamy shower area isn’t the right place...?

DO Absolutely 100% toss out eye products if you’ve had an eye infection

DO look for expiration dates especially FDA OTC/Rx drugs: Sunscreens, Acne products, hydrocortisone cream and of course Prescription drugs

DO look for signs of product degradation

DO Donate unused products to organizations like Project Beauty SHare

DO try to recycle bottles, tube and jars with organizations like Terracycle

DON’T Share your makeup or skincare with anyone. I know sharing is caring but this is a hard no especially with makeup and lip/eye products. If you want to pump some product into their hands ok fine.

DON’T Forget to wash to wash your hands (reminder #2) the outside of bottles and caps especially if you drop them on the floor, your makeup brushes, sponges and beauty tools  

DON’T buy skincare packaged in jars! I know, I know, these are some of the most beautiful and luxurious items to be found but think about the contamination risk. Even if it comes with that adorable little dispensing spoon (you'’ use it for a week then start dipping the fingers!) Each time you open that lid you are introducing light, air and bacteria

DON’T Store products in the refrigerator unless stated specifically by the manufacturer. Products are test for stability for use at room temperature and stressing the product with prolonged high or low temps can short the lifespan, efficacy and stability of the product.  

DON’T store products in the direct sunlight. Ingredients like Vitamin C, Retinol and other antioxidants may degrade quicker when exposed to light.  

DON’T Add water (or saliva? ooo gross!) to products to remoisten them  

DON’T buy what you don’t need or can’t possibly use before the general expiration


As the co-founder of THE ROUTE I worked closely with the team of cosmetic chemists and formulators to create our products. I was intimately involved in product design, philosophy and choosing not only the ingredients but also the packaging protecting those precious ingredients and the testing for safety, stability and preservative efficacy. I am so proud of what we created- medical grade luxury skincare available not only to myself, my aesthetic practice patients but how we wanted to make it available to everyone - no appointment available.  

Now GO FORTH and do that spring cleaning of your cosmetics! Out with the smelly, old, clumpy bacterial ridden impulse buys if only to make room for THE ROUTE and other beauty treasures that will make you look and feel your absolute best. I think you’re beautiful!!



Nurse Nancy

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By gleaning insight from her decades of experience working with patients to improve their skin, Nancy has created the exclusive Nurse Nancy™ Complex, a proprietary cocktail of her tried and true ingredients your skin needs in abundance to promote daily skin health.

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