Question: Can I use a product after its expiration date?


Generally, it’s okay to use a product after the expiration date. However, there are a few factors you have to take into consideration:

  1. How much time has passed?
    Did the product just expire? Or has it been expired for a year or more? The longer a product is past its expiration date, the better it is to toss it.

  2. Has the product been stored at the proper temperature?
    I would not use an expired product that has been sitting in my car or in the sun. If I had a moisturizer that I kept in the fridge everyday and it expired, I would feel safe to keep using it after the expiration date. The way a product is stored has a large impact on its freshness.

  3. How is the product packaged?
    Is the product one you dispense from a pump? Or one you dip your fingers into? If you dip your fingers into the jar, it’s probably best to not use it after the expiration date. Bacteria, oils, and other things from your fingers can make the product less sanitary.

  4. Do you keep the product sealed tightly?
    Do you always cap the product or screw on the lid tightly? Making sure the product is properly sealed well help preserve its freshness. If you’ve never even opened the product and realize it’s already past the expiration date, it’s probably okay to at least test it out to see if you can still use it.

  5. What are its ingredients?
    Some product ingredients lose their potency as time goes on. Vitamin C and sunscreen can all destabilize after a certain amount of time. Sunscreen, for example, should be tossed one year after being opened. Emulsifiers can even cause some moisturizers to separate. So, check out the ingredients. Generally, prescription products are safe to use after their expiration date, but it will depend on how long the product has been expired. A few months is better than a few years.

  6. Does your product have preservatives?
    Some products for sensitive skin do not include preservatives or parabens. If this is the case, then definitely do not use the product after the expiration date.

  7. How does the product look and smell?
    Does it look like it turned yellow? Does it smell sour or funky? If it looks suspicious, chances are it is suspicious and has gone bad.

You can always contact the manufacturer for more information, but I’m pretty sure they’ll tell you to toss the product and buy a new one because they want your money.

If you choose to use expired products, it's a good idea to test them out on a small part of your skin (below the ear) to see if there are any adverse effects from using the product.

Expired skin care products might be safe to use, but it depends on how long they've been expired, how they were stored, and what active ingredients they contained.

Last updated: September 23, 2012

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