Whether you call it saving it for later, economizing, or forgetting you have certain items, products build up in every woman’s bathroom and are never replaced or thrown away. But did you know half of the things atop your vanity and in your shower are causing you more harm than good? We reached out to top industry experts to find out the top 10 things you should be tossing from your bathroom for a healthier new year.
You May Also Like: Follow This Nutritionist’s 2-Week Detox Plan for Your Best Skin
Your Old Loofah
While loofahs can be extremely useful at sloughing away dead skin cells, they also have the potential to harbor bacteria when used (or stowed away) for too long without replacing. According to New York dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, MD, FAAD, skin issues like impetigo, folliculitis, candidal (yeast) infections and wound infections can arise from the bacteria living within an old loofah. “Not only do they breed bacteria due to the inherent moisture, but they cause little abrasion in the skin via rough scrubbing that allow these bacteria to enter the skin barrier.” Dr. Molly Menser, DO, recommends doing away with these completely and replacing them with either an exfoliating body scrub or exfoliating gloves (but be sure to wash them in the laundry after every use).
Expired Medicines and Topical Prescriptions
“Never use expired medications of topical prescriptions,” says Dr. Menser, adding that all oral medications—even Tylenol—can be dangerous to ingest once they are past the expiration date on the label. “Topical prescriptions lose their effectiveness past their expiration date and may only give you the side effects without the benefit.” Dr. Nussbaum agrees, saying that the degradation of some products can be toxic to the body, such as ascorbic acid or Vitamin C which can cause kidney damage.
The Hairbrush You’ve Been Using for Years
If you use a subpar nylon hairbrush, hair-treatment expert Philip B. explains that the bristles can develop tiny cracks in them that snag on each hair strand and cause damage all the way down the hair shaft. Along with combs with lost teeth, you’ll want to toss these ASAP to prevent further damage. “Look for a great brush made with boar’s hair bristles to polish strands and help move natural conditioning oils from the scalp down to the ends as well as some high-quality nylon bristles which help guide the brush through your hair,” he advises.
That Old Makeup You Never Got Around to Using
Although makeup doesn’t come with an expiration date on its label, it can be just as harmful to us after a certain amount of time has elapsed. “These products can harbor bacteria causing skin infections as the preservatives in the products break down,” explains Dr. Nussbaum. Skin or eye infections, acne and pore congestion are also common side effects of old makeup usage. “Eye makeup and skin foundations last the least mount of time and should be thrown out after three months and sponge applicators should be replaced weekly.” In general, Dr. Nussbaum advises that if the texture has changed or the makeup smells bad, toss it!
New York cosmetic dentist Victoria Veytsman, DDS, says that toothbrushes should be replaced at least every 3 months as the bristles being frayed from the mechanical force of brushing the teeth reduces the efficacy of removing plaque and getting into the tiny spaced between teeth. “Toothbrushes also tend to accumulate bacteria from either the environment or mouth,” says Dr. Veytsman, adding that we should store them in a dry, clean place and rinse them off with an antiseptic mouthwash after every use. “This will help keep the bacterial growth under control.” Dr. Veytsman recommends using an electrical toothbrush that comes with replaceable heads to make replacement easy and seamless.
The Old Razors in Your Shower
Although they seem harmless sitting in our showers or bathtubs, old razors are a prominent source of infection. Dr. Menser explains that razors also dull with each use, leading to small nicks on the skin. “Bacteria is then introduced to the skin and leads to the spread of infection as we shave.” Dr. Menser recommends changing out your razors routinely and not letting them sit in standing water.
Those Nail Polish Shades You Bought Years Ago
Unfortunately, many of us are under the impression that nail polish lasts forever—but we’re wrong. “Nail polish should be used within its marked period after opening, which is normally 1-2 years,” says Lauren Berkovitz, nail expert and creator of the eponymous nail line Lauren B. Beauty. “Once polish is opened, used and hits the air, certain ingredients change in their chemical properties—especially natural ingredients—and can evaporate over time, changing the formula, consistency and overall performance of the polish.” Lauren B. recommends storing polish with the cap on tightly in a neutral environment—not too hot or cold—and to never store in your bathroom where there is stem and moisture because this, too, can cause polish to turn quicker.
Old Creams or Moisturizers You Never Finished
“Skin care products—especially those in a jar-style container instead of a pump—become a haven for bacteria,” explains Dr. Menser, adding that it’s best to dispose of anything that’s been hidden in your cabinet or makeup bad that you haven’t been routinely using and start fresh. “All products should be marked with an expiration date and stored in a cool, dry place as heat or moisture will accelerate the degradation process,” says Dr. Nussbaum. “The more active ingredients a product contains (such as SPF), the more quickly it will expire.”
Sunscreen at the Bottom of Your Beach Bag
Dr. Nussbaum explains that sunscreen that has passed its expiration date is no longer effective and should be thrown out and adds that any sunscreen that has been exposed to high temperatures of has changed in color or consistency has probably lost its efficacy as well. Plus, if we’re using the proper amount of sunscreen at the right intervals (the size of a shot glass 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied every two hours in the sun), Dr. Nussbaum says there should not be any sunscreen left in the bottle to expire!
Old Nail Tools
Whether you use these frequently or barely at all, replacement and upkeep is crucial. “It is important to clean off your tools properly after each use to prevent bacteria from forming, which could then cause an infection,” explains Berkovitz., adding that once tools like clippers, pushers, files or scissors become dirty, rusty or dull, it is time to throw them away. “When in doubt, toss your tools a few times in a year and invest in a good nail file, or a package to keep on-hand when you’re in need.”
Find a Doctor
Find a NewBeauty "Top Beauty Doctor" Near you