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Skin Care Spring Cleaning Guide

A new study found that while the average woman owns 40 cosmetics products, she only uses 5 of them on any given day. In other words: we own 8 TIMES more beauty products than we actually use!

Statistic Number of Cosmetics Women Own

Spring Clean Your Skin Care Routine (and Unhoard Your Bathroom)

Nobody likes feeling like a hoarder.

If your bathroom cabinets are full-to-the-brim with products that you rarely or never use — the idea of simplifying your skin care treasure trove probably sounds attractive, and possibly daunting.

The purpose of this blog post is to serve as a guide to help you figure out:

  1. What Skin Care Products Do You Actually Need? We’ll get into the key products that should be a staple in everyone’s skin care routine and those that are beneficial to some people, depending on their skin situation.
  1. When Do Different Skin Care Products Expire? We’ll provide a handy list of expiration dates of common skin care products, so you know which products to throw away.
  1. How Can You Donate Unwanted Skin Care Products? For products you don’t need that are still safe to use, we’ll provide a list of ways to donate them to those in need.

Our goal is to help you learn what you do need, so you can throw or give away everything that you don’t need.

3 Benefits of Spring Cleaning Your Skin Care Routine:

Here are some of the benefits of a more minimalist skin care routine:

  1. Save Money: Stop wasting your hard-earned cash on skin care products and treatments that aren’t right for you, just because you fell for their marketing.
  2. Look Better: You’ll get better beauty results when you use skin care products that are backed by expert recommendations and based on your specific skin situation.
  3. Feel at Peace: There’s a zen factor to coming home to a clean, uncluttered space. Your bathroom in particular should feel like a little shrine to your daily self-care rituals!

How to Spring Clean Your Skin Care Routine

Step 1: Figure Out Which Skin Care Products You Really Need

There are certain products that should be a part of everyone’s daily routine, and others that are right for most or some people — depending on your particular skin situation.

“Must-Have” Skin Care Product Categories for Everyone:

Facial Cleanser:

Everyone needs to wash their face, twice a day, with face-specific soap.

Every day our skin is exposed to pollutants, allergens and irritants from the outside environment that need to be washed away. We see all the pollen that coats our cars in the spring, that same pollen and other irritants/allergens form a layer on our skin.  As we move into spring and summer, you may need a lighter (less moisturizing) and effective cleanser in the warmer and slighter more humid weather.

One of my favorite cleansers for spring and summer that we sell in the office, by SkinCeuticals, has a combination of lipo-, alpha- and beta hydroxy acids that keeps the skin really clean and fresh, and is especially good for oily skin types.  For combination skin types, I recommend a cleanser in our office by IS Clinical that combines alpha- and beta hydroxy acids with antioxidants that leaves the skin feeling clean and balanced.  We have other options if you tend to be dry, sensitive or irritated.


Everyone needs sunscreen. It’s important to wear every day, year-round, especially moving into the spring and summer when the sun is more intense and we are outside more often.  

Sun damage happens over years from the culmination of UV radiation over time. While sunburns are an acute sign of overexposure to sun, you must really protect from the daily effects of chronic sun exposure that you will begin to see in the form of fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, dull skin, and discoloration.  

Choose a sunscreen with physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. My favorite in office item by EltaMD also has hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to soothe and hydrate the skin too.  Use a real designated sunscreen, it’s one of the best things you can do in the long term for your skin.  Sunscreen in your makeup is just a bonus.  


Antioxidants help the skin cells fight the things that tend to injure them.

Because we are vulnerable to all of the pollutants and irritants in the environment that damage our skin by injuring our skin cells on a daily basis, we need to make sure we feed our skin antioxidants like we do for our body.  

Vitamin C is probably the best known antioxidant. You can get a vitamin C in the form of a serum, lotion, cream, etc. My favorite is an antioxidant blend in a serum with vitamin C and other potent antioxidants by SkinCeuticals. It is a key part of your skin’s defense against deterioration! The best antioxidant for you will depend on your age and skin type though.

Must Have Skin Care Products

Skin Care Product Categories for Some or Most People:


Toners are meant to re-balance the skin after cleansing, but some cleansers don’t leave your skin unbalanced (pH or otherwise). For this reason, toners aren’t always a necessary part of your skin care routine.

I’ll recommend to my patients that they use a toner if they need a little extra something: clarifying, pore treatment, etc. The toner should have a specific purpose for your skin, not just be another step in the process.  


Since everyone’s skin is so different, everyone’s need for a moisturizer is different.

I have patients that need thick reparative moisturizers because they have really, really dry skin. On the other hand, I have patients with oily, acne-prone skin who need minimal to no additional moisture.  

In the spring and summer months, I find it rare that people need a really thick moisturizer, but if so, I generally prescribe it for the evening and recommend something lighter for the day.

One of my favorite summertime “moisturizers” is a really light, but very hydrating hyaluronic acid serum that will hydrate your skin without making it feel oily or heavy.  It’s perfect for warmer weather or skin that needs minimal moisture correction.  

Peptides and Growth Factors:

These are amazing products that help to stimulate collagen production, treat fine lines and wrinkles, and keep the skin looking supple.  

I don’t always start my youngest patients on these products though since we’re sometimes focusing on other things, but it wouldn’t be bad to do so. As one starts to think about aging skin though, usually in their 30’s, 40’s and older, these products are critical for preserving collagen, healthy skin texture and tone.  One must choose the right product lines, though: all peptides and growth factors are not created equal. They must be in adequate concentrations to make sure they are effective.  

Retinoids and Retinols:

I love retinoids (the prescription strength version) for almost everyone, but not everyone.  

Retinoids exfoliate the skin: they promote cell turnover and keep your pores open and unclogged, all while stimulating healthy collagen production.

However, it can be too much for some and irritation can be a side effect. I rarely recommend a retinoid for my patients with rosacea who tend to be more sensitive. We use other options to calm the skin and to promote anti-aging.  

I ask my patients who can use retinoids to build up by using just a small amount only a few days a week then building up as tolerated.

Skin Care Routine Products  

Step 2: Throw Away Expired Products

A recent study showed that 70% of women use some type of expired cosmetic product.

This is a problem, considering expired beauty products tend to have unsafe levels of microbes and bacteria. In other words: expired skin care products could be causing or exacerbating the very skin problems you’re trying to solve!

Reference the list below as you tackle your bathroom beauty product hoard and decide what to toss.

When Do Skin Care Products Expire?

  • Cleansers: 1 Year
  • Sunscreens: 1 -2 Years
  • Antioxidants: 3 to 9 Months
  • Toners: 6 Months to 1 Year
  • Moisturizers and Serums: 6 months to 1 Year

These are general guidelines, of course: a product might be within its general expiration date and be unsafe for use. Use common sense: if something looks gunky or smells funky, you probably don’t want it on your skin!

Skin Care Product Expiration Dates

Step 3: Give Away Safe, Unwanted Products

Once you have discarded any expired cosmetics and decided which skin care products you want to keep in your routine – what do you do with the products that are left over?

There are several ways to donate your unwanted skin care products that are still safe to use – giving you the pleasure of cutting back and giving back at the same time!

  • Dress for Success: This awesome non-profit organization empowers less-fortunate ladies for job interviews by providing them with career training courses and professional attire. They also accept unopened skin care and makeup products: check them out at
  • Beauty Bus Foundation: This charity inspires women in homes and hospitals with mini-makeovers and gift bags filled with beauty goodies! See how you can help turn these womens’ day’s around by sending them cosmetics:
  • Your Local Women’s Shelter: Look up your nearest women’s shelter – chances are they will accept your unwanted make up and skin care products!

Get Started: Make an Appointment for a Skin Care Product Checkup

Ready to kick start your Skin Care Spring Cleaning?

As we said before, the first step to simplifying your routine and unhoarding your bathroom is knowing which products you actually do need.

Refer to the guide above to start identifying which product types are right for you, then visit your dermatologist to get specific product recommendations based on your unique skin situation and goals.

To help you optimize your skin care routine, I offer Skin Care Product Checkups to my patients when they come for an appointment!

How Dr. Steele’s Skin Care Product Checkup Works:

  1. Make an appointment at Steele Dermatology on our website or by calling (770) 464-6000.
  2. When you come in for your appointment, bring up to 10 skin care products that you use on your face and neck.
  3. I will go through each of your products and provide recommendations on which products you can keep using, which products you should switch out for more effective alternatives, and which new products you should add to your routine.
  4. You will get your ideal skin care routine written out in an easy-to-follow guide. I will specify which products to use in the morning vs. night, how to layer your products for optimum impact, and provide you with any prescriptions required.

Steele Dermatology Atlanta Alpharetta

Make Your Skin Care Product Checkup Appointment Today!

Give us a call at (770) 464-6000 or make an appointment online: together we’ll design your perfect skin care routine!

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The health and safety of our patients is our biggest concern. Please read about the necessary precautions we are taking to deliver the safest care to our patients.
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The health and safety of our patients is our biggest concern. Please read about the necessary precautions we are taking to deliver the safest care to our patients.
Learn More