Yes, according to the FDA you could safely use expired but unopened beauty products long after reaching their expiration date, if they have been stored properly and appear to be in ideal condition, as expiration dates are mere “rules of thumb”.
Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. You can’t just ignore those dates either. But knowing what to look for is the key in not wasting beauty products even after the expiration date has come and gone.
Many makeup and skincare lovers will stock up on the products they love. You find a lipstick that glides on like a dream, leaves color locked onto your lips, and keeps them feeling soft and hydrated. You find a moisturizer that is a game-changer for your skin. You find all these things and the urge to stock up comes over you. Even more so if your favorite brands are discontinuing your favorite colors. Especially when there’s a sale!
But when you snap up all the moisturizer, lipstick, and other beauty products and tuck them away until you run out of the one you’re using, you might be concerned when you go to retrieve some from your stash. If that expiration date has passed, you might be wondering if you need to throw it all away. And after all your efforts of trying to save on your products by buying them on sale or in bulk!
No need to feel sad though because those unopened products might still be safe to use. Here’s what you need to know about expired beauty products that you haven’t yet opened before you haul them to the dump!
When should you consider ditching your expired unopened beauty products?
As soon as you open any product for your skin whether it’s makeup or something for your skincare ritual, it will start to deteriorate. That’s because it’s sealed in there. With every use, it gets exposed to bacteria. This is why you should be mindful of when you first opened the product out of its original packaging and began use.
Keeping a makeup log can help with that. Then you’ll know when you should be replacing your makeup. Makeup can go bad even before the expiration date once it’s been opened. Case in point: mascara, which we’ll discuss a little further down.
However, when makeup has been stowed away, unopened, it can last anywhere from one to three years after the expiration date. Don’t just open it up and trust. Here’s where you’ll need to examine the product to see if it’s still in good condition. Once it’s opened from the original packaging and sealing, you should use it up within a year.
Whether you’ve just opened it or you’ve waited a year, take a good look at it. Is the color different than it should be? Does it have a strange or foul odor? Has the consistency changed? These are the things to look for and if you note any of them, toss it out immediately. This is non-negotiable for your skin’s health and safety.
Products don’t need to be contaminated to turn bad either. Active ingredients become less effective over time. Take the case of sunscreens for example. The ingredients used to give you that broad-spectrum protection deplete over time. That’s dangerous because you’ll essentially be going out into the sun with faulty protection and will be more susceptible to burning.
So in some cases, the danger is very real for holding onto expired beauty products. But when they’re unopened, they can stand a better chance of holding out. Take a look and a sniff and see what you think, though for sunscreen, we deeply advise against it. No matter what kind of a great deal you can get on sunscreen by stocking up, you’re better off purchasing it every season as needed to ensure you’re getting the UVA and UVB broad-spectrum protection your skin needs.
Factors that can shorten the integrity of an expired unopened beauty products
Like foods you eat, certain beauty products can go bad faster than others even in the same category. One moisturizer you buy might go bad before a different one simply because of the skin actives in it. The potency of these actives diminishes over time. Additionally, any preservation methods used can make it expire faster. According to the FDA natural preservatives will go bad faster, but they are better for you, making it a wiser choice but not one to overstock your cabinets with.
Storage also plays a role. Wherever you purchase it from should be keeping it in an environment that is conducive to its preservation. For example, no beauty product really bodes well in a hot, unventilated warehouse every day. Cool temperatures and keeping it out of direct sunlight are the basic general rules for keeping beauty products from turning bad before you open them up.
Most creators of beauty products take steps to ensure the quality of their products so that by the time they reach you, they’re still in prime condition for use. This is known as quality control and is employed for every type of beauty product from skincare to makeup to hair care. Government regulations are also in place to ensure quality is upheld.
Testing is conducted to determine what changes can happen over the time its packaged. This is essentially how those expiration dates are set. They are general guidelines and while they can be helpful, they can also be off by a bit just to ensure your satisfaction. After all, you don’t want to into your favorite shop, buy your favorite skin cream, open it up and find that it’s not on par with the product you received every other time, do you?
Neither do any of these brands. They want you to keep loving and using their products.
That’s why so many of them invest in finding the right containers to store them in too. Products that come in jars don’t last as long. They can be contaminated more easily with bacteria from your fingers. An airless pump packaging is much better for preserving the contents.
When choosing brands to purchase for your makeup and skincare needs, taking the packaging into consideration as well as how you store it yourself in your home will help prolong the life of the product even before you open it up.
Now that you understand a bit about how and why expiration dates are imprinted on your beauty products, it’s time to understand how those dates impact you. Keep reading to find out how you can know for sure if your expired unopened beauty products are safe for you to use.
How can you tell if your expired unopened beauty product is still safe to use?
So, you’ve got a cabinet full of skin cream. Or makeup. Shampoo. Whatever it is that you decided to stock up on, remember, it’s not totally a lost cause. Yet. Here is what you should know about your expired unopened beauty products and their safety for usage.
– Expired unopened skin care products
Skincare products like face creams can last 1 to 3 years, if unopened and stored in a dark and dry environment.
The rules are a bit different for skincare products that are used for sun protection or treating acne. The ingredients they use carry a specific purpose and their effectiveness will diminish over time. That’s why for these products, you must toss them out after the expiration date.
If you use expired acne treatment on your skin, it’s not likely to do any good. The active ingredients that are designed to clear your skin will be ineffective. And as we mentioned about sunscreen, having proper protection is a must. You don’t want a sunburn, do you? Ouch! Beyond that, the skin damage you can suffer from wearing expired sunscreen is about as bad as not wearing any sunscreen at all. Always protect your skin and always read those labels.
Even in the store when you’re buying products, take a look at the expiration date. If it seems to close to the current date, look for one that has a later expiration date. Just like you do with the milk in the dairy case!
– Expired unopened shampoo
You’re much less likely to run into expired shampoo unless you stock up on it and store it away. Most people wash their hair once a day or even once every other day, using it up before it has a chance to expire.
Since hair care is something you likely do on a regular basis, you’ll get used to the scent of your shampoo and the texture it has. If anything feels odd about it and the expiration has passed, get rid of it.
– Expired unopened foundation
Foundation is definitely not something to trifle with when it comes to expiration dates. After all, you put this on your face. And you want to put your best face forward. That won’t happen if you use expired foundation which could cause your skin to break out or become irritated and red.
Your unopened foundation can last for up to 3 years if stored well, but once it is past the expiration date, always check the smell, consistency, and color. You may even notice an oil forming and not mixing right into the foundation. This is a clue that this is no longer safe for use.
Incidentally, this is how you know your foundation has gone bad even if it is before the expiration date.
Remember, when you use your products, as soon as you open them, they will slowly deteriorate over time, becoming less potent or effective. Keep a keen eye on and toss out anything that looks unusual.
– Expired unopened blush
Blush is definitely a disappointing one. It’s one we often stock up on, but it could come back to haunt you later on. Gel or cream blush can become super sticky or even ultra-dry. Any changes in texture or smell need to be noted. If you discover something is amiss with your expired unopened blush, throw it away immediately.
– Expired unopened mascara
Mascara is one of those makeup products that most women know to toss after 3 months of usage. The eyelash area is prone to bacteria that get on that mascara wand even when you’ve just cleansed your skin. These things build up in the tube and after a few months, if you haven’t used up all of the product, you’ll notice it becoming thicker and clumpier.
But if you’re wondering how long an unopened mascara can last, all you have to do is open it up.
If stored properly an expired but unopened mascara, could still be good for up to 2 years. However, if you open it and it smells strange, is thick and gloppy, or has changed color, you should not use it and throw it away.
– Expired unopened lipstick
Lipstick tends to fare better than other types of makeup products. Even when it’s expired, it can still last for about a year after opening it from the original packaging. But take note of the texture and color. When a tube of lipstick looks and feels dried out, is cracked, or you notice the color doesn’t look the same as when you first started using it, it’s time for it to go.
– Expired unopened nail polish
Ever apply some new nail polish and then forget all about the bottle? Perhaps a year later, you unearthed it in the back of your bathroom cabinet and found it dried out or the colors had separated. You didn’t keep it around, did you? What good is a bottle of nail polish that you can’t use?
When it comes to nail polish you’ve never even used yet that has expired, check for those same things. Does the color still run smoothly in the bottle when you shake it up or does it separate and look oily? Does the color even look as it should when the bottle is first purchased? If not, you won’t get much use out of that nail polish, believe us!
How to Avoid Expired Beauty Products
If you just don’t like the feeling of uncertainty that comes from opening up an expired beauty product you haven’t gotten around to using, you can take some precautions to avoid it altogether.
– Check the dates before buying
When you’re shopping for beauty products, make sure you check the date before you buy it. If you’re ordering online, don’t open your products until you check the expiration date. If it’s expired, send it back for a refund. Most companies are happy to accommodate you on this.
– Don’t be overzealous at sales
When you find a buy one, get one sale on your favorite beauty products, 50% off, or any other spectacular offer, it’s definitely a good idea to get the things you need. However, going overboard on them can cost you more than you bargained for. If you buy 10 pots of face cream, it’s highly unlikely you’ll use them all up before they expire. Use a little self-restraint when you’re at sales and don’t forget your focus.
– Buy only what you need
Again, we can’t stress enough that you should only buy what you need or what you can feasibly use within a year or two. As mentioned, most products have a shelf life of a year to three years after expiration if they’re not opened. If you keep them in a cool, dry place, you’ll find they will bode well over that time.
It’s one thing to buy 2 or 3 extras but to go overboard is a waste, unless you’re planning on giving them away as gifts before they expire!
– Write the company about discontinued products
It might sound old-fashioned, but people still write the companies they purchase from. These days, we do it in the form of email though. Most of these beauty product companies want to please their customer base. If you have a favorite color they’re discontinuing, you can write them to find out if they are able to recreate it, if they’ve named it something else to make it sound newer, or if they have any leftover at their warehouse that hasn’t expired.
It might not work out but at least then you can say you’ve tried everything rather than buy too many lipsticks in a color that’s going out and let them go tragically to waste.
Expiration dates on unopened beauty products are there as a guide. They don’t instantly mean that come that date, they turn back into a pumpkin like Cinderella’s carriage. Instead, they’re meant to help you make a safe choice.
For products like sunscreen, it’s important to heed the dates. For other beauty products, it all comes down to how well you stored it and how it looks and smells when you do finally open it. Your best bet is to always use up your products as quickly as you can and make smarter choices.
For example, you might love the LORAC Mega PRO Eye Shadow Palette, but if you can’t use all the makeup in them in a year, you should get the LORAC PRO Matte Eye Shadow Palette (Check out the current price on Amazon) that’s smaller and more suited to your needs. By doing so, you’ll wind up really saving money on the products you buy in bulk and avoid overspending on things that just wind up going to waste.