How Long Do Skin Care Products Last?

Extend the shelf life of skin care products by storing them in a cool, dry place

Checking Your Skin Care Expiration Date

Checking the expiration dates of most things, like food, is second nature. But when’s the last time you went through your skin care products that have outlived their shelf life?

Do Skin Care Products Expire?

We hate to break it to you, but yes, your skin care treatments do have a product shelf life like most other items. However, since different skin care products vary in terms of active ingredients, there’s really no rhyme or reason for their different expiration dates given by manufacturers.

The FDA explains that expiration dates on moisturizers, serums, and beauty products are simply "rules of thumb." How you store your products (which we’ll get into more detail later) is ultimately the most important factor when it comes to spoilage.

The Average Shelf Life of Your Skin Care Products

If you take a close look at your beauty products, you’ll likely see a lot of numbers. There could be a manufacture date, use-by date, batch code, and more. You may even see numbers like 6,12, 24, etc. which is the number of months your product will last after it’s opened.

While you should always refer to the dates on individual products, Oprah also provides some handy stats on the average shelf life of popular treatments:


Your favorite moisturizer can last upwards of 30 months unopened and a year once used. After that, it may be exposed to bacteria or become watery.

Serums, Retinoids & Vitamins

If you use eye serums and retinoids from a pump or tube, they can be used for up to one year no matter if they’re opened or not. Be warned, though, that if you use treatments from a jar, you’ll want to purchase a new one six months after opening the product since it’s exposed to more air and bacteria.


Sealed cream and gel masks can last for two to three years or typically one year after opening. Clay masks or natural masks may dry out faster once opened.

Example of skin care expiration date on jars

Signs It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Your Skin Care Products

We know that parting with your favorite skin care treatments can be tough, especially when you have some product left.

While you can use unopened expired skin care in some cases, you should always trust your gut and use your senses before applying it to your face.

When should you throw away skin care products?

If you notice…

  • a change in color, consistency, or smell
  • separation of ingredients
  • your skin becomes irritated after use

Expired skin care products can be ineffective and, at worst, lead to a skin infection or irritation.

How to Make Your Skin Care Products Last Longer

If you want your skin care products to last longer, here are some easy things you can do:

  1. Properly store your products in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
  2. Don’t share products like creams or makeup.
  3. Avoid leaving opened jars out and always seal your products after using them.
  4. Try not to repeatedly touch products if you can help it to avoid contamination (or opt for tubes and pumps rather than jars).
  5. Check the expiration date of your products every six months.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to say goodbye to your expired skin care products and treat yourself to something new.

Shop our full collection of skin care favorites at Patchology today.