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Skin School  >   Skincare

How Do You Know When Your Skincare Expires?

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We’re all guilty of keeping that one special cream or serum reserved for “special occasions,” but can holding on to products past their prime be damaging your skin? Do skincare products expire? Just like food products, skincare also has an expiration date that should be taken into consideration.

For some products, like Vitamin C serums, age and oxidation lowers the quality of the item and makes it less potent. But for others, a product past the expiration date could be rancid and cause acne and irritation. We invest so much time and money into our skincare, so why risk it? 


So when does skincare expire?

First, check out how the product looks. If you notice a change in color or texture (particularly in natural products), then it’s probably time to toss. Separation of the product, sometimes characterized as an oily film developing on top or a liquid dividing into two thicknesses, can also be an indication that a product is expired and unsafe to use. 

If the product looks safe, using your sense of smell can also determine if a product is rancid. If your nose detects any sourness or sharp odor, there’s a chance that the product has gone bad.

Finally, give your product a swatch on the back of your hand. Does it perform the same way it used to, or has the texture changed. Expired products can sometimes seem greasier than their fresh counterparts.

When does unopened skincare expire?

For unopened sealed products kept in a cool, dry area away from the sun - some products can last as long as two years, just use your best judgement. Everything else, particularly skincare with active ingredients or products that come in a jar should be used within a year. Use your best judgement when handling the product to make sure it doesn’t smell or look rancid.

Here are our recommendations for when to throw products out:

Keep in mind that this guideline is for products that have not been contaminated, scooping into a jar or leaving a product in the sun will cause the life cycle to shorten.


  • Cleansers - 1 year

  • Toners - 6 months

  • Moisturizers - 6 months

  • Serums - 1 year

  • Serums with Vitamin C - 6 months

  • Lip care - 1 year

  • SPF - 1 year


  • Mascara - 3 months

  • Eyeliner - 3 months

  • Cream products - 6 months

  • Powder products - 2 years

  • Lip products - 2 years

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