Does Body Lotion Expire?

Moisturizing is an important part of a body wash routine. There might be a dizzying number of opinions on body grooming, but The Body Shop says an ideal body wash routine boils down to only three steps: scrubbing, washing, and moisturizing. If scrubbing and washing serve to clean dirt and impurities off the body, moisturizing the skin with a body lotion afterward helps to lock in the moisture and replenish nourishing ingredients, making your skin feel smooth and pampered. Like your face, the rest of your body easily loses moisture due to the weather and also needs a top-up of nutrients throughout the day. A few pumps of body lotion, which contain deeply hydrating ingredients in addition to water and oil, are all it takes for your fleshy covering to feel rehydrated and plump again.

An interesting thing about body lotions is that they are typically sold in giant jars, giving you the impression that they almost never run out. Although an oversized bottle of lotion gives you more bang for your buck, it keeps you wondering how long it will take for you to shovel your way to the bottom. You can slather your body with those softly scented goops every day, and for some mysterious reason, the bottle still looks half full after a whole year of liberal application. So, does body lotion actually have an expiration date? And when is the right time to buy a new one? Here's what we know.

Body lotion does expire

The reason why the shelf lives of body lotions are forever a myth to us is that they don't always come with specified expiration dates. In the U.S., cosmetics are not required by law to have specific expiration dates on the labels, and The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) considers it the responsibility of cosmetic manufacturers to put a timeline for the life of their products on them. Since it's a judgment call on the part of manufacturers, not all go the extra mile of putting an expiry date on their products.

Having said that, every commercially formulated product expires, and body lotions are no exception. Generally speaking, every time you open a bottle of beauty product and dip your fingers in it, you expose the product to all sorts of germs floating in the air, compromising its shelf life and making it degrade faster. Even when the product contains preservatives, it cannot last forever. The best window of time to stop using a body lotion after it has been opened is anywhere between 12 and 24 months, per Healthline. Sealed and unopened bottles should last longer than that. For products with no expiration dates specified on the labels, it's best to write the date of opening on the container with a permanent marker so you'll know when to discontinue using it.

How to make body lotion last longer

If you've been using your body lotion for over a year and aren't sure if it's the right time to get a new one, here are some visual cues to help you make an informed decision. A telltale sign of body lotion gone bad is that it has a rancid smell, which is likely a result of bacteria having made their way into the formula. Texture-wise, when a lotion has expired, the water-in-oil emulsion in its formula may disintegrate, as water and oil don't mix. In terms of color, an expired lotion tends to pick up a new tinge of yellow, orange, or brown that you haven't seen before. Any change in odor, color, and texture in your body lotion means it's time to invest in a new one.

There are ways to keep your lotion fresh longer than it should be, though, if you've spent a fortune on a huge container of body lotion. The key is to store your lotion right. According to Skinbetter Science, exposure to direct sunlight can speed up the degradation of many skincare compounds, so it's wiser to keep your beauty products in a dark and dry location where the light, steam, and water cannot reach them. Both heat and freezing temperatures can deactivate many active ingredients, so it's better to store your lotion at room temperature, such as in a cupboard or a drawer, to maintain its effectiveness.