Do beauty products have expiration dates hidden on the package?
Whenever I see a great deal for an expensive beauty product on eBay or at a discount store like Marshalls, I wonder if the product has expired and is no longer as effective.
Beauty Products Go Bad
What can go bad with beauty products?
• Changes in odor – Fragrances are made of dozens of different ingredients that can react with the rest of the product.
• Color shifting – The color of the product is very sensitive to light, so it’s not unusual for cosmetics in clear packaging to experience a shift in shade.
• Change in texture – Changes in the consistency of a product may be subtle but significant.
• Microbial contamination – Black fuzzy spots
• Physical separation – If the product has separated into two layers it’s gone bad. Do cosmetics have expiration dates?
In the United States cosmetic products are not required to have expiration dates.
Products can be stable for several years if they’re kept away from light and heat, the two biggest enemies of cosmetics. But that same product can start to show fragrance degradation and color shift in a few weeks if exposed to sunlight and/or high temperatures.
The exceptions are over the counter drugs like dandruff shampoos, antiperspirants, fluoride toothpastes and acne products. The activity of drug ingredients in these products can be measured over time to estimate an expiration date. But it really doesn’t work that way for non-drug products. But for the vast majority of cosmetic products it’s a guessing game.
The bottom line is there’s no way to tell just from looking at the package if the product is still good or not. If you’re shopping on Ebay and you see a product that you like, you can email them and ask if they can tell you the lot number off of the package.