Expiration Dates for Beauty Products

Credit Philip Friedman via Good Housekeeping

What’s creepier than a Psycho Clown mask (or an unoriginal, ‘sexy’ costume) on Halloween?

Expired beauty products!

Yes, like good foodstuffs your beauty products have a shelf life.

Now, if you tend to buy beauty products that are the equivalent of twinkies in terms of ingredients then you needn’t worry too much about expiration dates; you’ll be fine besides the fact that you’re inundating your skin and bloodstream with a whole lot of nasty.

If you’re like Femilady and try to choose products like you choose your food–clean and as healthy as possible–then you should be aware of expiration dates.

The good news is that using expired products isn’t going to make you sick like expired foodstuffs. But they’ll lose efficacy, so if you like your products to actually do something then keep reading.

How can you tell if your products have an expiration date?

  • Some products like Weleda provide an exact expiration date which is super awesome.
  • Some products like Arcona provide a disclaimer like “Best used within 6 months of opening”.
  • A lot of products have a little jar icon on the back with “12 M”,  “24 M”, etc. (see image on the right). This indicates that the product is good for a certain number of months after it’s opened.

No expiration date listed? Real Simple provides a nice, general guide to expiration dates for your favorite products:

  • Anti-aging and acne treatments: Three months to a year. Antioxidants are easily oxidized, so be on the lookout for any changes in color.
  • Body lotion: Two to three years, particularly if it’s in a pump container.
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel: About three years.
  • Bath oil: One year.
  • Sunscreen: Check the package for an expiration date.
  • Mascara and liquid eyeliner:Three to four months. Make sure you’re diligent about replacing these items to prevent contamination and infections.
  • Eye and lip pencils: Three to five years. Sharpen them before each use as a way to preserve them and keep them clean.
  • Lipstick and lip gloss: Two to three years.
  • Foundation: About two years. Most bottles are designed to last that long. And if you don’t use it, chances are you didn’t love it to begin with.
  • Perfume: About two years. To get more mileage out of a perfume, resist the temptation to display a pretty bottle on your vanity. Instead, stash it away in a cool, dark place.
  • Nail polish: One year.
  • Hairstyling products: Three to five years. Most are alcohol-based, which helps preserve the formula.
  • Bar soap: Up to three years.
  • Shaving cream: About two years.
  • Deodorant: Up to two years.

And when in doubt, here’s a rule of thumb from Ron Robinson, a chemist who specializes in beauty products:

A product that’s separating, has changed in color or smells differently are signs they’re ready for the trash.

Need even more info? Check out this very, very thorough article from Good Housekeeping.

And have a happy, happy Halloween (Femilady’s favorite holiday)!