When Do Natural Beauty Products Expire?

While we love that organic beauty products are made with pure ingredients from plants, flowers and foods, it also means that they’ll go bad more quickly than conventional products. Without chemical preservatives, like parabens, the shelf life of your natural beauty products shortens.

Natural ingredients in your favorite organic makeup, soaps, hair care products and lotions can turn rancid or become contaminated with bacteria after too long. Using expired lotion may not seem as bad as eating expired food for example, but you don’t want to ignore the shelf life of products. If you rub a contaminated product into your skin, you could expose yourself to potential skin and health problems. Using an expired beauty product could cause skin infections, breakouts, dry skin, eye infections and rashes—not so pretty, huh?

You’ll probably want to root through your make up bag and dig through those bathroom drawers every six months or so to toss expired products. Most beauty products won’t have expiration dates, as it can depend on when the product was opened. But sunscreens, or any product made with sunscreen, such as moisturizer, are required to list an expiration date on their labels.

If you can’t remember how long ago you opened that eye cream or body lotion, do a sniff test. Toss out anything that smells funky, has separated (unless that’s common for that particular product) or has changed color. Just because you can’t smell anything though, doesn’t mean it hasn’t gone bad. A product can still go sour or lose its potency without any noticeable change in appearance, color or smell.

For the most accurate expiration date, check with the company that makes that particular product. For example, Eminence Organics, an organic face and body care line, notes on its website that its products typically expire after 12 months, although it uses natural preservatives like honey and lemon to keep products fresh. In the future, try labeling your products by writing the day that you opened them somewhere on the bottle in permanent marker. That way you’ll always know how long you have to use up all that lotion-y or soap-y goodness. You can also use our guide below as a general guideline for the shelf life of your beauty products.

Shampoos and conditioners
These products typically stay good for about two years. Make sure to keep water out of them to keep them fresh longer.

Soaps and bath gels
The shelf life for soaps and shower gels is typically one to two years.

Facial moisturizers typically stay good for six months to one year after opening.

Body lotions
Use up your lotions before six months.

Natural deodorants will start to lose their effectiveness after six months to one year.

All sunscreen products are required to list an expiration date on their labels.

Mascara, eye creams, eye shadow
Most natural eye makeup stays good for three to six months. Err on the side of caution and use eye products quickly.

Lip balm
Natural lip balms stay good for about one year. Keep in mind tins of lip balm may not stay as fresh, depending on how clean your fingers are digging into them.

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image: Mr. T in DC