Expired Toiletries



Our bathroom drawers and shelves are lined with toiletries of all kinds: sunscreens, deodorants, shampoos/conditioners, lotions, and make-up products. But did you know that these products have a shelf life, just like the items in your pantry?  Expired products aren’t necessarily a big deal. Sometimes it just means they lose effectiveness. For example, an expired perfume could smell a little off or your anti-dandruff shampoo no longer keep your mane flake-free. Other times, however, an expired product can be irritating or cause other problems, as with using expired sunscreen and then toasting yourself in the sun.

If you can’t seem to keep up with the expiration date on your toiletries. Here’s what you should do:

  • Take stock of your items once or twice annually can help true up your personal inventory and keep things uncluttered in your bathroom.
  • When you do get a new item, consider using a permanent marker to write the purchase date on the product, that way you know when you bought it and roughly when to get rid of it.
  • Prolong the lifespan of your products by using clean applicators or clean brushes instead of fingers (mini spatulas), and also keeping them away from heat, light and moisture. 
  • Examine each item well, if you notice a strange texture, smell, color, film, it’s time to dispose of it. 

In the US, only products the FDA considers drugs are required to have an expiration date; these include sunscreen, acne medicines and products that treat dandruff. If you buy European products, you might have more luck, since the European Union has a directive requiring an expiration date to be shown at least for those products that last less than 30 months.

Required or not, some manufacturers do print expiration dates on their products. If it’s not clearly printed on the container as something like “Exp 12/2020,” look for what’s called a Period After Opening (PAO) date. This is a picture of a jar with something like “24M” on it, which means the product should be good for 24 months after opening. Sometimes, the shelf life is noted by a special (undecipherable) batch code printed on the container. You can look up these codes for major brands at  Cosmetic.net.


You may have bought the big bottle because it’s more bang for your buck. But now, it’s taking you forever to finish it, especially when you don’t use just one shampoo or conditioner. Shampoos and conditioners have a fairly long shelf life – three years for unopened bottles and 18 months for opened bottles. Anything after that and your product may have lost its effectiveness – it may not de-frizz like you wanted, add moisture like you wished for, or remove dandruff like you needed.  Worse case scenario is you could get a scalp infection from the bacteria that gets into the bottle over a long period of time.

When to discard: Water and air can enter the bottles and break down the formula over time, said cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson, who is a member of the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Don't take your chances if the product has already passed the PAO, and especially if you notice the scent or texture is off, said Dr Tsippora Shainhouse, a US board-certified dermatologist at SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care in California.


You wouldn’t go through a tube of sunblock as quickly as facial cleanser, so there’s a high chance you still have some left from your last beach outing. For chemical sunblocks that use oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate or combinations thereof, these ingredients can oxidize and become less effective after expiration, said US-based independent cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski.

When to discard: Pick up a new sunscreen if it has changed color, has become watery, has a strange odor or has separated. "Sunscreens must be uniform to be effective," said Wilson.


It’s extremely important to keep track of expiration dates for the cosmetics and make-up products that you put on your face. These items are a breeding ground for bacteria, which can affect your health. Paula Begoun of Paula's Choice says that using products past their expiration date could result in skin irritation, rashes, blemishes and various skin or eye infections. “Know when to let go,” Begoun stresses. “If you’re hanging on to your skincare or makeup past its expiration date, chances are microbes and bacteria have taken their toll and might be causing skin problems you’re trying to solve!” If there’s not an expiration date listed on the package, make note of when you open the product and go by that date.

Eye products have one of the shortest shelf lives – and since they are applied around your eye, you definitely don’t want to mess with this! 

  • Mascara and eyeliners should be tossed every four to six months. 
  • Foundations and concealers should be replaced every six months to a year.
  • Powder-based products every two to three years; 
  • Lipsticks, lip glosses and lip pencils every two to three years. 
Note: These dates are just guidelines. “If it smells funky, looks gunky or the texture has changed significantly – definitely toss it out!”. “Watch (or sniff) for any new odors, as smell is one of the first qualities to change when a formula has expired.”

Do yourself a favor & discard expired products from your home. Your family will thank you Later. . .

** Thanks for Visiting! This post is F Y E. I'm not a Medical/Beauty Consultant, and NOT giving any advice here!   If you like this post, please comment & Email it to others.  Don’t forget to follow me on Bloglovin, and Pinterest Or get the latest posts via Email.**

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