Throw Away Your “Old” Lotions!!

She hadn’t seen me in six months. The smile in her eyes died as she glanced down at my hands. Her eyes grew as round as pizza pies, as she took my hands and cradled them in hers. She held them gently, as if they were fragile porcelain art objects. In fact, my hands look as if they are covered in old cracked vinyl. The skin is withered, shriveled, peeling off in sheets, and the surface is shiny.

“Oh, My God, Shelly,” she whispered. “What in the world happened? Your hands look like an old woman’s! They look twenty years older than you — it’s like you have one of those diseases that make you age, but it only hit your hands. What is it?”

“It’s the hand lotion,” I replied. “If you have had lotion that has been open for six months, take a lesson from me and throw it away!


I told y’all several days ago that I was having some very strange symptoms. My hands and feet were tingling and numb. I had no sense of feeling at all. Several trips to different doctors, and many medical tests ruled out neurological disease, diabetes, or auto-immune responses. My blood was tested for everything under the sun. The good news is that I don’t have any of those diseases.

The bad news, is that I destroyed the top layer of skin on my hands and feet by using old hand lotion. I don’t know the brand — it was some nameless lotion that I picked up on sale because it contained Vitamin E. I had used it when I first bought it, and then set it aside (for several years).

A few weeks ago, I pulled that lotion off the shelf to use on my skin, which was dry from the winter weather. I thought I was being frugal. I didn’t want to waste it, so I decided to use it up. But, it had an “icky” feel to it, so I used it three times and then tossed it in the trash. Shortly after that, my skin began to feel strange, but other medical problems were happening, so it seemed like something more. That’s why I was tested for so many things.

When finally the connection was made to that hand lotion, my family doctor’s advice was to use Neutrogena hand cream–which is very expensive and would not even soak into my skin. After many days of no change in the condition, I went to a dermatologist. That should have been my first move.

The dermatologist told me that this type of reaction is not unusual. It has happened to people using old skin care products or skin medications that have expired. The tingling sensation I was having was because I was trying to “molt.” The numbness was because my skin was dead.

The Neutrogena had cream had too many chemicals, she told me. Instead, she gave me a foam that will help exfoliate the dead skin, and a very thick ointment that will actually soak into the skin. She said it may take weeks or months for my skin to get back to “normal.” She didn’t promise that my hands would go back to the way they were.

By being “frugal,” and not buying a new $10 bottle of hand cream, I spent hundreds of dollars on medical bills, tests, and medicines. That’s after my health insurance paid it’s portion.

If you are reading this, I want you to stop right now and go through your skin care products. My dermatologist told me that if a bottle of lotion or make-up has been opened for six months it can get contaminated with bacteria. Exposure to the air can cause its chemical components to change. She told me that if I had any skin care product that had been opened for six months, I should throw it away.

You go do that NOW! And, tell everyone you know to do it. This has been one of the most miserable experiences of my life, and I don’t want anybody else to go through it. Though it hasn’t actually hurt, except when the skin was so dry that it bled, I have been unable to use my hands properly. Walking feels awkward, because I don’t really feel a sensation when my feet touch the ground. YOU don’t want to EVER experience this!

“Shelly,” my friend asked. “will your hands ever look right again?

“I don’t know, ” I said.

“Are you going to blog about this?” she asked. “People need to know.”

“Of course I’m going to blog it,” I replied with a grin. “My life is an open book. Everything is fodder for the blog…well, almost.”

She laughed and patted my cheek. “I’m so glad you didn’t smear that stuff on your face!”

Word up!

  32 comments for “Throw Away Your “Old” Lotions!!

  1. December 13, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Holy crap. I am totally throwing out lotions today! I don’t use them that often so they do tend to hang around too long. The only one I use religiously in the winter is Flexitol Hand Cream for VERY Dry Hands – that stuff is amazing. Stops my cracked and bleeding hands in their tracks!

    Heal quickly and well my friend.

    Thank you, darlin’. I don’t think it’s going to be quickly, I’m afraid. But, I’m not buying in bulk when it comes to skin care products! Never more!

  2. December 13, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Thank goodness you listened to your instincts that something was wrong with that lotion when you did.

    Side note: mascara and eye makeup, I was told toss it in 3 months!

    Marcias last blog post..Recycling Electronics – Only the Good, Friday

    Yes, and thank goodness I didn’t just wipe the excess on my face and neck (I usually do!). This morning, I couldn’t even flex my hands (the skin is like a dry casing and it has to “crack” before I can move freely). And, you are right, anything used near the eyes should have a shorter shelf life!

  3. December 13, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Oh thank goodness they figured out the problem and you’re on the healing path! And thanks for sharing this info πŸ™‚

    michelle of bleeding espressos last blog gift ideas: from soap to books

    If I had any brain in my head, I wouldn’t have gotten myself in this fix. How could I not tell folks about it? It just never occurs to us that something as simple as a hand lotion can be a toxic poison!

  4. December 13, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Wow, how crazy is that? I was always told that the shelf life for most beauty products was 3 years, even when I was selling the stuff!

    As soon as I have power again at home (could be days) I’m going through my stuff and purging!

    While the “shelf life” might be that long, if it gets contaminated or exposed to air, you could have a problem. The difficulty is that usually there isn’t any way to tell just by looking at it! Please DO purge it all. I threw away some that cost a small fortune, but I’d had it for two years. Seriously, the medical bills, the physical and emotional trauma, and having to look at really ugly hands and feet is too big a price to pay!

  5. December 13, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Oh wow! Seriously, I am going through my lotions and dumping anything I have had over 6 months!! That’s so scary! Thank you for your openness and sharing your story with blogville. I learn more and more from reading blogs everyday!! I’m sending positive thoughts that your hands heal completely!

    YellowRoses last blog post..Another Quickie…

    Seriously, indeed! I appreciate the good thoughts. This has been very frightening, and quite uncomfortable. I don’t want anyone else to experience it (well maybe there are a few people I could wish this upon :twisted:).

  6. Mo
    December 13, 2008 at 8:55 am

    My goodness, girl! I too am glad to hear that at LEAST you didn’t put it on your face! Yup, gonna do that purge myself TODAY…I *know* I have hand cream in there that has been there for years…

    I do hope you get to feeling better (at least, feeling *something* – numbness is a scary thing!) sometime sooner than later (I *am* glad to hear that its nothing MORE serious.)


    Mos last blog post..Sharing the Good

    It could have been much more serious, though this feels serious enough! The numbness is scary, but the tingling was worse. My imagination ran away with me and I figured I was about to have a stroke or something! Go through those lotions, and don’t save any of them…even if they were expensive!

  7. December 13, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I’m the worst culprit at this. I’m using some Bath & Body Shop stuff that I bought at their semi-annual sale. Who knows how long THEY had it before putting it on sale?

    The trauma I’m sure is horrible, but I’m so glad that you don’t having something more severe and hopefully everything will return to normal. Praying for and sending you positive thoughts, my dear…

    Desert Divas last blog post..Starbucks Computation Skills

    I think the real problem comes when the lotion is opened and exposed to air. Unless it is expired, it is probably OK. At this point, though, I don’t trust ANY of it!! πŸ˜† I’m totally freaked out about any skin lotion out there.

    It’ll get better. It has to! I have too much stuff to do! Thanks for the prayers & positive thoughts. Every little bit helps πŸ˜‰

  8. December 13, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m going to go down to the closet in the hallway right now. I’ve got baby lotion from far-too-many-years-to-count still there!

    patoiss last blog post..The Weekly Wonderings #88

    OMG! Do NOT put old lotion on a child! I can’t imagine a little one going through this!

  9. December 13, 2008 at 11:40 am

    I already knew this. I always toss stuff before the six month time limit. Most of the time it’s used before then. I only use one type of lotion and I use it every day. Doesn’t last six months.

    Someone mentioned makeup. That’s were you can really get in trouble. Need to be tossed in three months and for heaven sakes don’t loan in to someone else to use.

    Have a terrific weekend honey. Oh, put another can of yummy in your donation box. Big hug. πŸ™‚

    Comedy Pluss last blog post..Sponser an Executive

    Unfortunately, I knew it, too. I just didn’t follow my own counsel. Again, trying to be frugal I screwed up big time.

  10. December 14, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    That is horrible!!! I keep thinking of the suntan lotion that I use at the beginning of the season each year…left over from the last summer. I should go pitch it…

    Kaceys last blog post..Why is this Still Around?

    I would consider it “suspect,” but then, at the moment I am somewhat “gunshy!”

  11. Yeah right!
    May 26, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    This is the biggest bag of crap I’ve ever read.
    Yes, beauty products can go bad, but lotion doing this?
    Not unless they contain caustic agents.

    Stuff like this happens to people in the industrial sector that work around hazardous chemicals. Not consumers who hang on to beauty products for too long!

    Are you starved for attention?

    • May 26, 2009 at 3:52 pm

      No, I’m not, but obviously you are. I thought y’all were a bunch of teenagers from the ridiculous way you are writing. When you don’t even have the nerve to put your real e-mail address, I think that’s pretty sad.

      Just so y’all will know it…makeup won’t cover up inner ugly.

  12. May 26, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    The young woman little girl who called herself “Yeah Right!” above is a member of a forum & calls herself “Boogie Disease.” I’m the one who wants attention? She came here to comment–read that “make trouble”, and when I tried to reply to her in forum told me to go away. Unfortunately, I had used up my responses, so I couldn’t tell her that I fully intend to go away from that forum—as soon as I’m finished taking notes for a blog post! That place is so bloggable!

  13. May 27, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Oh, Grrrl! That place is freakin’ hilarious! You know those little dipsh*tz don’t want to believe that this could happen to them; they have too much invested in swapping their old products with each other. Hahaha! If you haven’t already got enough really prime stupidity for some perfectly Red humor (or I wonder what Dear Dora might do with them??) Check out these charming and oh-so articulate and intelligent discourse:
    “I always picture her taking huge poops that clog the toilet. I dont’ know why”, and a little racism just for fun:
    “Yup. My nan was on kidney dialysis, and she was seriously the only non-black in the place”.Of course what beauty forum would be complete without great information like this:
    “It’s not, actually. Ever hear of gonnorhea of the throat?All of these gems of wit and wisdom are by none other than Ms boogie disease
    idontwanna chimes in occasionally with pertinent commentary such as “no it’s definitely from the butt”
    The “butt” seems to be a popular topic on that forum (I don’t get it- I thought it was supposed to be about make up??), because Chix-nuggets says that “no guy wants a girl whose lips & fingers look like they have been up someone’s @ss”, while curly_c is overjoyed to have found ” a good reason to motivate me to purge!! Yes, darlin’ it’s true. Some real winners have found their way to your blog! LMFAO

    Thornes last blog post..Manifesting Abundance – Magickal Living

    • May 27, 2009 at 4:21 am

      I don’t know, Thorne. I was going to blog about them, but I don’t think they deserve the attention. In particular, that boogiedisease seems to be a little sick. It makes me sad to think what their children will be like when they grow up. The young “ladies” are so obscene. It’s just really too pathetic. Oops…I DID blog about them, but I was much nicer to them than they were to me. I didn’t want to sink to their level πŸ˜†

  14. May 27, 2009 at 4:35 am

    You know, this is totally OT, but I really love the crop on your icon. It rocks! (Your eyes look great!)

    Thornes last blog post..Manifesting Abundance – Magickal Living

  15. diTaykan
    October 6, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Holy crap!

    I was looking things up because I found a thing of cleanser/lotion that my mother gave me some time ago, and the lotion part had solidified. I was wondering if it was still possible to rejuvenate and/or use (yeah, I know, but it was that Dead Sea stuff– hideously expensive). It WOULD have gone on my face! So glad I stumbled on this! D:

    • October 6, 2009 at 8:40 am

      I would definitely be afraid of it, unless you want to risk looking ghoulish for Halloween. It’s almost a year later, and my feet have not completely healed … my hands will never be the same. The skin looks like that of a woman two decades older than I am! It’s not worth the risk!

  16. March 29, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Wow, good information. I only use lotions and creams with natural ingredients. I am still going to go through my old lotions and get rid of them.

    • April 6, 2010 at 10:23 am

      It’s a constant battle to keep up with them … but keep them dated so you know when you opened them!

  17. Anne Sweeney
    September 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    THANKS Shelly. Like you I try to be frugal. But at the cost of our health it isn’t worth it. As soon as I post this I am going medicine cabinet raiding. I KNOW I have lotions, etc. since BEFORE I moved to and back again from Phoenix (2002-2005) Time to pitch it all.

    • October 11, 2011 at 11:58 am

      Indeed, Anne. I don’t keep lotions for long anymore, and I never stock up on any!

  18. Anne Sweeney
    September 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Another mention. Old perfume can cause breakouts. I had a bottle of something quite old 5+ years and I put a dab behind each ear and the next thing I had a horrible “buzzing” in my ears. Behind my ears and down my neck were all broke out with what looked like water blisters. Skin peeled and was almost like a sun burn, which I quess it sort of was a burn. I don’t have to worry about makeup, since I don’t wear it, allergic to most brands. Eyelashes fall out the very next day I wear mascara, lips swell from lipstick, and so on.

    • October 11, 2011 at 11:58 am

      I don’t keep old perfumes, either, but thanks for passing that along!

  19. Wendy
    November 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I was just going through my lotions and hair care products when I noticed something on one of the bottles… an expiration date. This wasn’t the case with 80% of the stuff I had so I decided to Google expiration dates… and your blog title caught my eye.

    After reading about your experience I am a changed woman and will never EVER keep lotions for longer than six months.

    Thank you Shelly!

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