Is Your Skin-Care Expired?

A close-up of the white product package with the expiration date on a gray backdrop

Ever wonder why skin-care products come with an expiration date?

It’s not just a marketing ploy to get you to buy new products; it turns out that there is a scientific basis for the shelf life of your favorite moisturizers, serums and lotions.

Skincare product labels are like tiny little books, filled with information about what’s inside the bottle and how to use it. We’ve all been guilty of not reading the fine print, but one thing you don’t want to miss is the expiration date.

If you’re like most women, your bathroom shelves are stocked with an impressive array of skin care products. From serums to moisturizers to sunscreens, you have it all covered. But is there an expiration date on your favorite anti-aging cream or face serum?

More precisely, have you ever stopped to think about when your natural skincare products actually expire?

You spend all this time choosing the most organic and natural ingredients, but do you really know how long they will last in your beauty regime?

While chemically-based skincare items tend to come with expiration dates printed right on them, it’s not quite as straightforward or clearly labeled when it comes to natural alternatives. In fact, the FDA doesn’t even require manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care items to include expiration dates on their labels.

Let’s break down why skin-care products expire and what you should look for when determining whether or not a product has gone bad.

What Causes Skin-Care Products to Expire?

As much as we would love for them to last forever, nothing does—not even beauty products! Most chemically – based skincare products will last for about two years after opening them (but some can last longer). On the other hand, natural skincare products will last a bit shorter, but it really depends on the ingredients.

Make sure to check your product label for an expiration date or a “best used by” date. This will give you an idea of how long your product should stay fresh and effective.

Usually, the expiration date is printed on the bottom or backside of the packaging in small print.

If there isn’t an expiration date listed on the package, then there should be a symbol that looks like a jar with a number and letter inside of it (like 12M). This indicates how many months it will remain fresh once opened. So if it says 12M, then that means your product should last up to twelve months after opening.

The primary reason that skin-care products have an expiration date is because of the preservatives that are used to keep them from becoming contaminated. These preservatives help to protect against bacteria, mold and fungus while also keeping the formula stable so that it works correctly.

Unfortunately, these preservatives can only do their job for so long before they become less effective. Over time, the ingredients in these products can begin to break down, making them less effective and potentially even harmful. That’s why it’s important to be aware of how long your products last and when they need to be replaced.

How Long Do Skin Care Products Last?

The longevity of a skincare products depends on their type, as well as its ingredients and storage conditions.

Most chemically-based skincare products will indicate on their label how long they stay fresh after being opened. Generally speaking, most moisturizers and creams can last up to two years if stored properly (i.e., away from heat and sunlight).

Serums usually have a shorter shelf life of about six months after opening since they contain more active ingredients that can potentially cause irritation or sensitivity over time if kept for too long. These can last anywhere from six months to 12 months if stored properly in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Masks and scrubs—These tend to have shorter shelf lives due to their active ingredients. Most masks and scrubs will stay fresh for up to six months if stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Sunscreen is particularly prone to breaking down since its active ingredients are more sensitive to light exposure; sunscreen should generally be replaced every 12 months or sooner if it has been exposed directly to sunlight or high temperatures.

When it comes to natural skincare products, it really depends on the formulation. Generally speaking, most natural skincare products will last up to six months—but this could be shorter or longer depending on the ingredients used and how they were stored.

For example, some essential oils are known to break down more quickly than other plant-based ingredients like shea butter or jojoba oil.

It is also important to note that some natural skincare products can expire before their expiration date if not stored properly. Even if the products are labeled “all-natural” and “preservative free,” they can still go bad if exposed to heat or sunlight for too long.

To get the most out of your natural skincare products, always make sure to store them away from direct sunlight and in a cool place—like your bathroom cabinet!

If you’re ever unsure about the expiration date of a particular product, check with the manufacturer directly and they should be able to give you an answer.

It’s also important to note that some skin care products do not have an expiration date printed on them because their active ingredients naturally degrade over time without needing any additional preservatives.

Signs Your Products Have Expired

If you’re unsure if your product has expired or not, there are usually signs that can help you figure it out. The most obvious signs are changes in color or texture (think separation or clumping) of your product.

Another sign is a foul smell coming from your product—this could indicate bacterial growth in old creams and lotions which could lead to irritation and infection if used on your skin. 

Lastly, if you experience any unusual symptoms such as burning or itching after using a product past its expiration date, then stop using it immediately!

If you’re unsure how long a product has been sitting around your bathroom cabinet, it’s best practice just to throw it out and purchase something new instead of risking potential irritation or infection by using expired skincare items.


While skin-care products (especially natural skincare products) don’t necessarily come with an expiration date printed on them, that doesn’t mean they can be used indefinitely.

Pay attention to any containers or packaging your skin care comes in; many contain information about how long your product should last after being opened (usually indicated by a “Period After Opening” number).

Additionally, keep an eye out for any signs of spoilage—if something smells off or looks discolored, it’s best to discard the item and opt for something new!

Expiration dates are not just suggestions; they actually indicate when a skincare product will no longer be effective or safe for use.

While certain products may last longer than their stated expiration dates, it isn’t recommended to use them past that time period since bacteria can start growing in them quickly and cause irritation and infection when applied to your skin.

So, now you know! The next time you go shopping for skincare products make sure to pay attention to the expiration dates listed on the labels so that you don’t end up with expired items in your bathroom cabinet—or worse yet, on your face!

Staying educated about when skincare items expire is key in helping ensure that you always use high quality, fresh products on your skin!

About author

Selma Durmo M. Pharm

“As far as I can remember I have always struggled with sensitive skin. The issues culminated in my mid-twenties when I started having rosacea flares and redness. My personal quest for effective, safe solutions took a professional turn, and I was given the opportunity to apply my (Pharma) background in developing a new skin friendly product line. My goal was to create something new, a clinically proven sustainable skincare brand. This science backed probiotic skincare derived technology is a product of years of research and innovation in personal care products. Metabiotics contain naturally produced hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, SMase, lipoteichoic acid, over 40 peptides and enzymes. All assigned with specific tasks for activating the skins native repair mechanisms.” 

Check out our Instagram Feed:


Following the principles of Clean Beauty, we have joined the dedicated stream of safe, non-toxic beauty enthusiasts.

Our products contain carefully selected hypoallergenic ingredients suitable for sensitive and reactive skin.

We’re committed to formulating with natural, organically-derived, and skin-friendly synthetics while excluding popular “good feeling” and potentially harmful compounds to provide the best skincare solutions.

“It is easy to get hooked on conventional products, with inviting perfumes and the instantly pleasant skin feeling. The sooner you understand that those sensations are short-lived the better! Choose Clean Beauty and allow the science backed ingredients time to work wonders on your skin.”

Cinically proven

Our products’ superiority has been proven in a controlled study on 50 volunteers where it was shown that four-week product use leads to a significant increase in skin moisture levels (39%), increased skin elasticity (50%), and a decrease in the appearance of wrinkles (23%).

Other beneficial effects include decrease in skin sensitivity, increase in skin cleanliness, evenness of the skin tone, decrease in acne formation.

This study serves as proof of the skin’s gradual return of its protective layer, integrity, and balance. All study results have been published in a peer reviewed journal as well as the full study report.

“Putting all science aside, we are most proud of our users’ testimonials. All tested volunteers claimed visible and tangible improvement in skin feel and appearance.”


The greatest breakthrough discovery we stumbled upon is that skincare and cosmetics should not be sensational.

Personal care should be comprehensive, accessible, and efficient, just as all solutions that come from nature are.

We are often faced with labels such as anti aging skin care, organic skin care, natural skincare products, which lack the necessary explanation… What do these phrases actually mean?

“Grown tired of all the misleading, incomprehensive, irrelevant information used in the beauty industry we decided to stick to a no-nonsense approach. It is what it is, and skin care is not magic! It requires commitment, patience and understanding your skins’ needs.”


We are dedicated to neutralizing our negative impact on the environment as much as possible and have joined the stream of sustainable skincare brands. We’re taking you on for the ride (we’ve even packed the goodies)!

To help minimize our carbon footprint, for every product order a tree will be planted thanks to our amazing planters at One Tree Planted. It’s estimated that a mature tree nullifies around 20lbs of CO2 a year.

We’re doing our best to reuse, reduce and recycle. Wishing to inspire a circular economy we have partnered up, to create a customized recycling program. Collect three empty plastic packages to receive your Anbiome Recycling Envelope and follow the instructions on how to take part in our recycling mission. 

Your good deed shall be rewarded. For every three products recycled you receive one product gift!


Today’s trends in skincare require the use of synthetic active ingredients which interact with the skin. Our approach is to distinguish natural alternatives, which mimic the skins native repair mechanism and are more efficient and ecologically sound.

Translating solutions from nature into industrial settings is hardly an easy task, but it’s one we enjoy undertaking.

We have screened 500+ different wild probiotic strains from the nature, to find the most powerful ones.

Special fermentation process was developed to harvest powerful molecules (HA, LTA, SMase, LA and 40 peptides).

Result is the composition of native signal components and molecules that keep the skin balanced, healthy and protected.