You can tell a lot about a person by peeking into their medicine cabinet—not that we’d ever endorse snooping. For example, a cabinet full of hotel shampoo and conditioner sets is likely to belong to a frequent traveler (perhaps one with a slight hoarding problem). A neatnik is bound to have all their medicine bottles tightly capped and lined up according to size, while a more, shall we say, creatively inclined person’s medicine cabinet might be so overflowing with random items that a screwdriver falls out when you crack it open. (Don’t ask.) But no matter who you are, experts warn that some things should be kept out of your bathroom medicine cabinet entirely. Read on to find out which items pharmacists say you need to find a new spot for immediately.
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Paging Alanis Morissette: It may be called a “medicine cabinet,” but ironically, you should not keep your medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), in it. “The fluctuations in the bathroom temperature (heat, steam) affect the stability of medications,” Nancy Butler, PharmD, RPh, director of K Pharmacy at digital care company K Health, says. “Unstable medications are not safe to ingest … Always store medications in a cool, dry location and check the expiration date before ingesting.”
Need to dispose of past-its-prime medication? “Expired OTC medications can be discarded in household trash,” says Butler. “Be sure to remove [them] from the original container, and mix with used coffee grounds or used cat litter to prevent kids or pets from consuming. Put the mixture in something you can close, and place in the garbage.”
Just like your OTC and prescription medications, vitamins and supplements won’t hold up under the steamy conditions in your bathroom. Vitamin C, in particular, is susceptible to fluctuating temperatures and moisture, says Shaili Gandhi, PharmD and Vice President of Pharmacy at SingleCare.
“Medicine cabinets are not an ideal place to store medications, as bathrooms are often warm and humid rooms,” she says, echoing Butler. “This type of environment may change medication and cause it to be less effective.”
“Another item that should not be stored in the medicine cabinet is a razor, as excessive heat and moisture can expedite the razor to rust,” Gandhi notes.
While it may be inconvenient to keep your razor someplace other than in the bathroom, a rusty razor isn’t going to do an effective job of keeping your skin smooth—and it’s more likely to nick you, as well. So if you’re after a stubble-free face (or legs, or pits) free of cuts, find a different place to store those blades.
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Skincare enthusiasts, take note! If your products contain benzoyl peroxide, Gandhi says it’s best not to keep them in the bathroom medicine cabinet. This includes many popular acne-fighting products, such as cleanser, toner, and spot treatments.
In fact, if you’re a true skincare product devotee, you might want to invest in a mini-fridge that’s dedicated solely to your serums and scrubs—just like actor Ana de Armas, whose glowing complexion is recommendation enough for us.
If you think your little ones aren’t tall enough to reach the medicine cabinet, think again. The only thing kids love more than climbing is getting into mischief, and it’s just not worth the risk of potentially putting them in harm’s way.
While Butler notes that “anything labeled as poison should not be stored in a medication cabinet,” full stop, be sure that nothing else hazardous to kids is stored in your medicine cabinet, either. That is, unless it can be secured. “Do not store anything that says ‘keep out of reach of children’ in a medication cabinet without a safety latch,” she warns. This may include cleaning products, electric styling tools, and anything that could constitute a choking hazard.