What Happens If You Use Expired Face Products?

Whether to save money or out of laziness to order a replacement product, you might consider using an expired face product. I admit I have done this before. But are these products safe for you to use? What happens if you use expired face products?

Expired face products are less effective and can irritate your skin if used. Expired face products can cause a rash, acne, allergy, abscess, or even infection. Most face products in a jar expire in 6 months to a year. If the product is in a concealed pump container, it can last longer.

When the ingredients of these products expire, they form new chemicals that could become toxic when exposed to air or other external substances. Furthermore, they can become breeding grounds for microbes and other infectious agents.

Read on to learn more about what happens if you use expired face products, prevent products from expiring quickly.

What Happens If You Use Expired Face Products?

Expired face products, including moisturizers, cleansers, toners, eye creams, serums, and sunscreens, should not be used past their expiry date. They are less effective as their ingredients are no longer potent, so they won’t deliver your desired results. They also can lead to skin issues such as skin rash, allergy, acne, abscess, or infection.

1. Rash 

Skin rashes can occur with sensitive skin when the ingredients become stale or have deteriorated. The destruction of the components produces new substances that can be harmful to your skin, producing skin rashes.

It’s not uncommon for an expired face product to also burn sting your skin, leaving a temporary red patch. It isn’t worth saving some money to use the expired product. Just toss it and get a new, fresh product.

2. Allergy

Various substances are formed from the destruction of the ingredients of face products. These substances may be harmful and can cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals who are allergic to these new components. 

In anaphylactic reactions due to allergy, you should seek treatment from the nearest health facility in your area. Some allergic reactions can be serious, causing dyspnea (difficulty of breathing) and anaphylactic shock. This is certainly rare to have an anaphylactic shock from a topical product, but it can happen if they are used on someone with an allergy.

3. Acne

Bacteria and oil can also block your skin pores to cause acne and other blemishes, including pimples and zits. These can create ugly spots or discoloration on your face. So instead of beautifying your face, expired face products can damage it.

4. Abscess

In extreme cases, abscesses can form from pimples due to serious skin infections. An abscess is a swollen area within the body tissue containing a build-up of pus. They are basically zits that lie under the skin. This may need to be drained when medications don’t work. Avoid picking those enlarged pimples or acne marks, as you can exacerbate the infection. Unsterilized needles or your nails can introduce pathologic bacteria into your skin to aggravate the infection.

5. Infection

When face products expire, they tend to become clumpy or moist due to water formation. If this mixture is combined with a warm atmosphere, this would be a perfect culture media for microorganisms.

When you apply this expired chemical concoction to your face, the bacteria or fungi that have grown can enter your pores and cause skin infections. If you have a wound on your face, it could even prove more dangerous, as bacteria can go quickly into your bloodstream. 

I emailed Dr. Meghan Feely, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, the question ‘what happens if you use expired face products?’ She said, “Products that have expired should be discarded as they are less effective at delivering their intended results.” She also said, “If you use an expired product, you are putting your skin at risk of irritation or infection.”

As outlined above, it’s not safe to use expired face products. I’d rather spend my money buying new skincare products than spending my money on medications or treatments. The treatment could cost more than the product itself. 

I hope your choice would be the same as mine. Your safety comes first before anything else.

Expiration Dates of Different Face Products?

what if use expired face products

For all face products, look on the packaging for a symbol of a jar with a number indicating the expiry date. If you are using the product after this expiry date, you are not getting its full benefits and are at risk of skin issues as described above.

If you don’t see an expiry date on the packaging, see below for the average expiry date for different face products.

Moisturizing Creams – Moisturizing face creams in a jar usually expire after 6 months to a year. Face creams in a closed-container pump or tube will last longer because there are fewer bacteria that can enter and contaminate it. Face cream in a jar can expire fairly quickly if they are contaminated with unsanitary practices, such as dipping a contaminated finger into the cream. You should use clean spatulas to scoop the cream out from its container. It would be best if the spatulas are disposable, so you can dispose of them after one use. 

Face powders – Face powders can last from 1 to 2 years. Like face creams, for powders, use only clean and disposable facial sponges. If you want to save, then you must clean and wash your sponges as soon as they become dirty. 

Sunscreens – Sunscreens can last for 1 to 2 years when packaged and used properly. But if they are exposed unnecessarily to harmful chemicals, their effectiveness expires earlier than their actual expiry dates. Most sunscreens come in a pump container or tube, so they are protected from bacteria for a longer period of time.

Cleansers – For facial cleansers, they can last up to 1 year, provided they have been stored properly. Depending on the type of cleanser, you can store them at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Read the instructions on their labels to determine their proper storage.

Face masks – Face masks expire from one to two years. After this time, the ingredients that have broken down can be harmful to your face if you use them.

Keep in mind that even if the face product is not expired, if you notice a smelly odor, a change in color, clumping, liquefaction, or drying – don’t use it as the ingredients have already deteriorated. Using them when they are clearly unsafe can cause you more harm than good.

When your face product is unopened, it can last longer than opened ones. This is because they are less exposed to contaminants or external factors that can destroy them. You can refer to the expiration dates found on their labels to learn about their expiry dates. As a rule of thumb, unopened face products last from 1 to 3 years. 

To be safe, don’t use the product after its expiration date, whether opened or unopened. Needless to say, don’t buy an expired face product – no matter how cheap it is. The treatment of the repercussions, such as rashes, acne flare-ups, or skin infections, will be worth more than what you have saved.

How to Prevent Deterioration of Face Products before Their Expiry Dates

Store Them Properly

Read the directions accompanying your facial product. The suitable temperature of storage can be at room temperature, as long it does not sit in direct sunlight.

You can also store many facial products in the refrigerator as this can lengthen their shelf lives. Also, the product, when applied cold, can soothe and relax your skin. If you store your face product in the fridge, seal it tightly to ensure that water or other contaminants will not enter. Also, keep it away from food, ideally keep it in a separate fridge drawer.

Products and ingredients that benefit from being stored in the refrigerator are as follows:

  • Vitamin C 
  • Liquid make-up
  • Retinoid 
  • Active cultures of helpful bacteria
  • Eye gel or cream
  • Other facial creams or gels
  • Face products made of natural or organic ingredients

It’s also not best to keep your face products in your bathroom. The bathroom is also a breeding ground for bacteria which can easily enter the product and contaminate it quickly. The heat from the shower or bath also causes the bacteria to multiply, which further decreases the product’s shelf-life.

Observe Personal Hygiene

As previously mentioned, you should be clean when using your face products. Dirty hands and fingers increase your risk of infection. You may be introducing harmful microbes into the product with each use.

In instances when you use contaminated products – even if they have not expired – they could render worse effects on your face. If you use a contaminated product, you are spreading the bad bacteria onto your face and pores, which can lead to acne flare-ups, irritation, and much more.

Remember to wash your hands and your face before applying your face products. If you’re using make-up accessories, make sure that they are clean and sterile.

Follow the Product’s Instructions

I have learned to read the label or the leaflet that comes with each product, and it really helps in managing them. It helps to organize, store, and use them properly and more effectively.

If the face product has no label, don’t buy it. Most probably, it’s a non-FDA-approved product. Ensure that the face product you’re buying is not expired as well by taking note of its expiry date printed on its label.

Conclusion – What Happens If You Use Expired Face Products?

What happens if you use expired face products? Expired face products will not be as effective. Their ingredients have deteriorated and are less potent and active. Also, what’s worse, if you use expired face products, your skin can get a rash, acne flare-up, allergic reaction, abscess, or even a skin infection.

Generally, face products expire in 6 months to a year. If the product is in a concealed pump container, it can last longer. If the product is expired, don’t use it. Throw out expired face products to avoid irritating your skin.

In some instances, when face products have longer expiry dates, use your discretion. Examine the products for their color, odor, and consistency. If you notice something wrong, you should dispose of it – even when they have not expired yet. Read carefully the instructions attached to the face products, so you can use them effectively.

Related reading:

Does Shampoo Expire? Does Shampoo Go Bad?

How to Tell If Makeup Is Expired

How Long Do Opened Skin Care Products Last?

How Long Does Mascara Last If Opened?