I'm always going on and on about how important it is to use products that are free of synthetic ingredients-including preservatives. Of course this inevitably leads to the question about the shelf life of organic goods.  All products-whether they're organic or not-will eventually become contaminated with molds, fungi, bacteria and other nasty little things you don't want swimming in your face cream. For almost 100 years conventional products have used parabens-the most common type of preservative-to protect cosmetics, medicine and even some food products.

It was only recently that people began to question the safety of these unnatural ingredients. A number of studies were performed with alarming results. Parabens may effect estrogen levels and contribute to breast cancer. And even if these particular things weren't an issue, years of soaking up those chemicals still can't be good for you. Thus the need for natural methods of preserving became more important than ever.

Organic companies use a safe and pure method of preservation utilizing antioxidants and plant based preservative systems. For example benzyl alcohol-a nature derivative of benzoin gum-is used in the Suzanne aux Bains Calming Body Wash to help battle bacteria and keep the organic formula fresh while it sits in your shower. While most conventional body and skincare products have a very long shelf life of three years or more, organic options can't sit around as long. Most items will stay fresh after you open them between one and two years.

A couple perfect examples are Dr. Alkaitis and Sophtyo products. Dr. Alkaitis, which uses only raw plant ingredients in their formulas, have a recommended one-year shelf life. And Sophyto stays good unopened for up to three years. Once opened you can keep them around for up to 18 months. Dr.Hauschka products are good from six to nine months after they've been opened. Before opening they will remain fresh for at least two and a half years. At Saffron Rouge we make sure the products are fresh and will never send you ones that have been sitting around for years.

You can also help preserve items by keeping your skincare, fragrance and makeup products in a cool dry place and out of sunlight. Obviously the products that live in your shower can't stay dry, but make sure to keep them closed to help keep them as fresh as possible. And how can you tell when a product has gone bad? Usually the smell will be your first clue. If it smells a little different than usual-and not in a good way-it's a sign that you need to toss it. Other things to look for are discoloration and a change in the formula's texture.