I find spring to be a wonderful time for getting rid of the old and making way for the new. There is something about the longer days and promise of warmer weather that inspires a re-evaluation of what’s in my home.
It’s a perfect time to check your personal care products to see what should stay and what should go. As someone who has held on to things for far too long, I’m still learning how best to do this, but I wanted to share a few things I have picked up along the way to help the process:
What to Consider
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget most of our personal care products have expiry dates. Use your discretion since ‘best before’ doesn’t mean ‘bad after’, but if it’s clearly past it’s expiry date, pitch it.
Maybe your products don’t have a date, but likely do have a little logo like this:
That represents the number of months the product lasts after opening. It’s a really small logo, so it’s easy to miss. It can be hard to remember exactly when you opened something, but if you are really struggling to remember, it has likely been open longer than it should be.
Regardless of expiry date/period, if it smells off or has changed colour, that’s a good sign it’s ready for the trash bin.
If you haven’t opened the product yet, why? It’s likely you were not excited about it in the first place. Maybe it was gifted to you. Maybe you are actually so excited, you don’t want to risk running out so you never even start (like nice clothes you never want to ruin). If you aren’t excited by the product, gift it to someone who will use it. If you are nervous to start because it’s “special”, then I challenge you to start using it and enjoying it. Nice things are meant to be enjoyed!
I have fallen prey to this many times. I haven’t used a certain products for months/years, and then when I take the time to evaluate everything, it somehow makes the cut and stays because, “I might use it someday!”. I’m sure it was useful or applicable at some point, but that doesn’t mean it’s still worth keeping around.
Would You Bring it On an Extended Trip?
Let’s imagine you are going to spend six months abroad (yes, this is completely unrealistic for most people, but stay with me). It’s long enough that you would bring more than a weekend toiletries bag. You would want to have all your staples and the things you love. If you wouldn’t bring it with you, it’s probably time to let it go.
Have a look at the ingredients listed. Are there any known hormone disruptors or other ingredients that are not banned, but are linked with health concerns? Things like phthalates and parabens can mimic the effects of our hormones and disrupt the endocrine system. Check reputable resources like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep site for product details and what harmful ingredients should be avoided.
What About the Waste?
When you take the time to sort through your products, you are often left with a pile of containers, which can feel overwhelming and feel wasteful. If you are like me, you hate the idea of sending these things to the trash. So, consider the following:
Is it recyclable?
Recycling programs have come a long way. Look for a recycling logo on the packaging or look up your local recycling program details. Sometimes part of the container is recyclable, which is better than nothing.
Is there a recycling program?
Some companies offer recycling program, like MAC Cosmetics. If you return 6 containers, you can get a new item. There are exceptions to what can be returned, and the complimentary items differ depending on whether you visit a counter or a full store, but this is a great example of how some companies will take back their containers.
Take note of the waste
When you do a spring cleaning and see all of the items you are getting rid of in one place, it’s a helpful exercise to think about what you really need and how quickly you use it. Do you have a bunch of barely used products that are years old? Let this inform your future shopping.
Enjoy What’s Left
Now that you have assessed your care products and removed the unused, old, expired or harmful ones, you are left with the keepers. This is a great thing. You have now curated a regimen that suits you. Hopefully, it excites you and gives you a feeling of lightness having now discarded items that no longer serve you. Embrace it.