Expired Beauty Products: The Ugly Truth

Chances are you beauty connoisseurs have two or more shampoos and conditioners in your shower caddy, as well as a zillion unopened body lotions and makeup compacts. Trust us, we are not judging. Different products for different occasions -- we get it! We have a set for special occasions, travel, daily use and others for skin care and hair care emergencies. Call us vain, but here at College Gloss, we’d like to say we are resourceful!

As much knowledge as we have on looking sexy, there is a lack of information on the products and ingredients we use on a daily basis. We know a few beauty junkies, both professionals and lovers, who go to Costco specifically to stock up on their favorite cleansers and hair care goodies!

Although you are saving money this way, we are pretty sure that most of you girlies have forgotten to skim the expiration date. Remember to check under the lids, on the box or packaging.


One of the most annoying things about reading expiration dates are the confusing codes. Some are self-explanatory like the Gregorian Date Code, which reads as follows: January 18, 2013, which represents the date of manufacture. If you can’t find this code anywhere, chances are you will find a date that will read 12M or 24M. In normal speak, this means you have 12 or 14 months to use the product from the date you open it.

On another occasion, you may find the Julian Date Code on your favorite moisturizer; talk about dreadful. “An example is 276 09B. The first number, 276, refers to the number of days from January 1. In this case, the date is August 16. The next set of numbers and letter refers to the year -- 09 here -- and the batch established by the company for quality control,” according to eHOW.

OK, OK, OK, let’s break this down for you ... we also feel like we just read a whole bunch of mumble jumble. The Julian Date Code is based on the Julian calendar, meaning that January 1st equals 1, and the last date of the year is December 31, which is the number 365. For reference, just remember that there are 365 days in a year.

Check out this easy guide from Real Simple for how long to keep your products:

  • Anti-aging and acne treatments: Three months to a year. Antioxidants are easily oxidized, so be on the lookout for any changes in color.
  • Body lotion: Two to three years, particularly if it’s in a pump container.
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel: About three years.
  • Bath oil: One year.
  • Sunscreen: Check the package for an expiration date.
  • Mascara and liquid eyeliner: Three to four months. Make sure you’re diligent about replacing these items to prevent contamination and infections.
  • Eye and lip pencils: Three to five years. Sharpen them before each use as a way to preserve them and keep them clean.
  • Lipstick and lip gloss: Two to three years.
  • Foundation: About two years. Most bottles are designed to last that long. And if you don’t use it, chances are you didn’t love it to begin with.
  • Perfume: About two years. To get more mileage out of a perfume, resist the temptation to display a pretty bottle on your vanity. Instead, stash it away in a cool, dark place.
  • Nail polish: One year.
  • Hairstyling products: Three to five years. Most are alcohol-based, which helps preserve the formula.
  • Bar soap: Up to three years.
  • Shaving cream: About two years.
  • Deodorant: Up to two years.


Although certain products, like most hair care items, may not have an expiration date, the rule of thumb is to throw them out after three years. If the smell, texture or color changes, or if the product is separating, toss it out.

Remember, most shelf life begins the moment you open the product, unless otherwise stated. Take extra caution with organic products: expiration dates are vital in this situation. As of now, labeling beauty products with expiration dates is not an FDA requirement. There is a debate between industry professionals and companies regarding this issue.

“Most companies do not want to delay the launch of their product, which could take six months to a year,” said Dr. Joel Schlessinger, an Omaha dermatologist and president and founder of, in the New York Times.

Many industry professionals believe it is essential to introduce expiration dates in the market due to an increase in natural ingredients. Like food, we agree beauty products expire and need an inspiration date.


Other than being beauty goddesses, we want you to be beauty scholars! Get in the habit of labeling. Get some scotch tape, write down the month and year you purchased the product, and place it on the bottom of the package. Avoid storing your goodies in the bathroom, and keep them in a dark, cool place. You want to keep the production and conception of bacteria to a minimum; do not place your goodies in hot places, and begin to use an applicator instead of your finger when applying your favorite eye cream. Cotton swabs, makeup brushes and sponges are great for application!

Now, run to your beauty cabinet and make sure you are taking full advantage of every drop of your favorite item! But, if you do find that you are using a product beyond its shelf life, do NOT panic; these expired goodies generally don’t harm your precious locks or skin, they simply will not help you achieve your desired results.

By: Ivanna Coello | Image: Source

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  1. This is great! I've been putting off throwing my old products away for so long! Thanks for the info!

  2. Great tips now i know if it smells or color fades that means throw it out!! Thanx for the tips babes

  3. Love this!! I think it's time to start cleaning out the old make up drawers!! I had no idea about the facial lotion!

  4. 'Antioxidants are easily oxidized'...those rat bastards!
    Also, thanks for the perfume tip...I was wondering why my spray was smellin' cray #educateyourself


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