Your Beauty Product’s Shelf Life

by Erica Stolman | 6 Comments

products shelf life

So you open your face lotion that you have used religiously for years and years, and you notice it’s smelling a little funky. You wonder, is this old or am I just smelling things? How long does is this stuff supposed to last anyways? I wonder if my other lotions and shampoos are old too? Ask no more… we have found the answers for you.

  • + Nail polish: Of course we want you to keep your Julep polish as long as possible, and as long as it’s unopened- you can. After opening, nail polish has an average of one year of optimal use (before you start to see a change in color or consistency). Minimizing exposure to oxygen by making sure that your cap is sealed extra tight or storing your polish bottles upright in the fridge will also help extend the longevity of your nail wear. 
  • + Face Lotion: Face lotion, as they contain various ingredients and are sensitive to light, will last you about 6 months to a year. If you notice that your face lotion starts to smell funny, has changed colors, or has had a change in consistency, it’s time to say goodbye. 
  • + Facial Cleanser: Same as face lotion, you’ve got 6 months to a year. Tip: if it comes from a pump, it lasts longer. If it comes from a jar, use a disposable plastic spoon (instead of your fingers). The less germs in there, the better. 
  • + Facial Toner: Your toner will last you a solid year. 
  • + Perfume: Perfume really can last forever, but it starts to lose it’s scent around the 2 year mark. To keep it fresh for longer, you should store it in the fridge. Light & heat will make it age faster. Just be sure to keep it away from foods with a strong scent, as the will alter the scent of your favorite fragrance. 
  • + Deodorant: This one is a big one! After 2 years your deodorant will become less effective, and less effective deodorant means you may get a little stinky. Which is obviously not something you or your friends want. 
  • + Shaving Cream: Shaving creams are full of various oils and emollients and over time (2 years) they will begin to dissipate, become less effective, and lose some of their yummy scent. To make it live up to it’s long lasting potential, you should store it in a dark, dry, and cool place. 
  • + Conditioner: Again, due to emollients and other ingredients, creamy conditioner’s will last two years tops. Just keep an eye on any change in color or consistency, if it curdles or changes colors, head to the store and get a new one. 
  • + Hair Gel: Be sure to store this stuff correctly (in a dark/dry/cool place) and it will last you 3 years. 
  • + Body Lotion: Unlike lotion for your face, body lotion has a much longer shelf life of 3 years. 
  • + Hair Spray: Same as hair gel, if stored properly it will last three years. 
  • + Shampoo: Obviously your shower isn’t dry or cool, but your shampoo should still last you about 3 years. 
  • + Body Wash: Just like shampoo, this stuff can handle the test of time (3 years)- even when left in the shower. 

(source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source)

  • Kate Parlee McCullough

    Glad to see this posted – there seem to be some poor misconceptions that nail polish lasts “forever.”

    • Erica

      Thank you for your comment. Nail polish can certainly last a very long time if stored properly, but around a year you may start to see changes in the color and consistency- in which you can add a polish thinner to help revive it. It is important to have a tight seal on your polish and keep it away from heat and light!

  • Actually, nail polish can last years and years and does not need to be stored in the fridge. I have nail polish that is close to 30 years old and is still in brand new condition. If it gets thick just add thinner and not acetone and it’s as good as new. Perfume shouldn’t be stored in the fridge either. I would take most of this advice with a grain of salt.

    • Erica

      We agree with you!! Nail polish can certainly last a very long time. After a year though, people will often notice there polishes begin to change in composition and color. Once it starts to get thick you can definitely add a bit of thinner to revive your polish.

      As for perfumes, the ingredients will begin to break down as time goes on and the perfume will begin to lose it’s scent. Especially those with more citrusy flavors in them (as they seem to “go” quicker).

      The reason a lot of people recommend putting it in the fridge (away from any strong smelling foods) is it a cool dark place, yet you can also store it in a cupboard that is NOT in your bathroom. The moisture and heat from showering is not beneficial for either polish or perfume.

      More information found here:

  • Adria

    Regarding perfume:

    I have a perfume that I’ve owned since 1999. By your advice, I should toss it. However, since it’s composed of CHEMICAL fragrances, that’s not an issue. I’ve kept it in a box, or on a shelf, and it has traveled with me to several different climates (currently a subtropical island in the Pacific, a journey that took my fragrance eight weeks over the ocean during the summer) and the fragrance has yet to alter significantly enough for me to notice. In fact, I’d say it’s actually settled into something even nicer.

    Perfumes composed of NATURAL essential oils, depending on the oils, may start to go after 2 years. Anything with a citrus oil (orange, lemon, bergamot, lime, etc.) usually starts to go roughly 2 years from its original pressing. Since citrus oils are usually top notes, someone with these oils in their fragrance might notice a turpentine-y scent to their essential oil fragrance. Otherwise, most essential oils can last up to five years. Keeping either chemical OR essential oil fragrances in the refrigerator does NOT prolong the fragrance’s lifespan. In the case of essential oils, refrigeration–indeed, any exposure to extreme heat or cold–may actually alter their fragrance.

    I know this because I worked for two years under an holistic aromatherapist who manufactured custom spa products for high-end hotels. No one knows essential oils like a trained and certified holistic aromatherapist.

    Regarding nail polish:
    Keeping your nail polish in the refrigerator doesn’t prolong its shelf life. All you get is cold, thick polish. Keeping your polish away from extreme heat and strong light, and using nail polish thinner that doesn’t contain acetone when it gets thick will do more for the lifespan of your polish than anything else. I know of women who possess–and even use–polishes from the 1980’s and 1990’s because they have taken great care with them all this time. Nail polish doesn’t ‘go bad’–but companies want us to think it does so we go out and buy more polish!

    • Erica

      Thank you for your response! We always love advice from professionals.

      It is true that perfumes composed of natural essential oils will be more subject to lose their scent than those of the chemical composition. Yet even chemical fragrance will begin to lose their scent over time, as the composition and ingredients will eventually begin to breakdown, especially when stored improperly (in direct sunlight/in the bathroom).

      Keeping perfume in the fridge, away from stinky foods (i.e. cheese), will actually slow down the oxidation process. Yes, extreme temperature can damage a perfume- yet in the case of the fridge it should be okay. The freezer on the other hand… not a good idea!

      As for nail polish, you’re exactly right- it doesn’t ever go “bad”, but after a year it is common for people to see a change in their polish (mostly in color or composition). Again, it’s all about how you store it. Keeping it the fridge will cause no damage to a polish, and is said to help preserve the color longer.

      more information found here & here.