How Long Does Moisturizer Last (And Can It Expire?)

Frugal-minded individuals may not wish to discard gently used moisturizing products. That large bottle of moisturizer buried in the back of the closet is still safe to use, right? Maybe not! We’ve researched the question so you can keep your skin happy and healthy.

Moisturizers are considered cosmetic products. Just like any other cosmetics, moisturizers have expiration dates. Sometimes the dates are listed on the containers, which is helpful. But other times, the expiration may not be apparent. Typically, moisturizers last up to 1 year for opened products; unopened products may last up to 2 to 3 years.

Should you throw away expired moisturizer that you spent hard-earned money on? Absolutely not! There are no laws or regulations for them unless they contain medications. So, please keep reading to learn how to make them useful!

A woman putting a moisturizer on her right hand on a pink background, How Long Does Moisturizer Last (And Can It Expire?)

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Is It Okay To Use Expired Moisturizer?

For skincare, it is not a good idea to moisturize with expired products. Many people do it, though.

It’s unlikely to harm your skin, but it can still happen. Realistically, the product is no longer the same product after its expiration. The expired cream may be irritating to the skin. For example, contact dermatitis is an uncomfortable skin condition that may develop after using expired moisturizers. This will go away on its own with proper skincare, but maybe it’s best to avoid it altogether.

Bacteria cause the moisturizer to expire faster. Opened moisturizing products may be full of bacteria, regardless of the container type. A pump dispenser is great to use. However, fingers may still touch the dispenser. And any exposure to surfaces can result in minuscule bacteria climbing into the dispenser. The container can’t be easily cleaned without losing the product. That would be such a waste!

Does it smell foul? Has the consistency of the liquid changed? Is the pearly white color now an eggshell shade or perhaps a hue of green? These are indicators that the moisturizer is not safe to use. It’s no good. Just toss it!

Expired Medicated Moisturizers

Moisturizers containing medications are especially sensitive. Despite the cost of the product, it’s not worth it to keep using expired moisturizers for skincare. Thankfully, these products are more regulated than standard moisturizers. The FDA helps to keep them safe.

For instance, some moisturizers contain acne treatment. Acne is an inflammatory disorder that can be painful. This skin condition sometimes needs to be addressed with medications. The National Institute of Health describes a study detailing some of these medications, including salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, and antibiotics. If the medicated moisturizer is expired, then the acne treatment is no longer effective.

SPF 15, 30, or 50, whichever you prefer, is also technically a drug. The sun ages the skin. Moisturizing SPFs are a great way to keep your skin young and healthy. By the way, did you know the FDA cautions that higher SPFs do not mean that you can spend a longer time in the sun? The amount of time spent in the sun is not as relevant as the amount of UV exposure. Be sure to apply SPF regularly as instructed.

See Aveeno's Absolutely Ageless daily moisturizer with SPF30 on Amazon.

What Can You Do With Old Moisturizer?

Luckily, there is hope! If the expired moisturizer is still salvageable, then there are a couple of uses for it. If you don’t want to use it, then there are some other options too.

Make a Homemade Exfoliating Scrub

Exfoliation is just as important as moisturization. With a little creativity, you can develop a body scrub out of expired moisturizer. You have the cream. Now you just need the scrub. A couple of the items in your pantry might work. Simply add sugar and oil to the mixture. If it’s too thin, then add more sugar. If it’s too chunky, then add more oil. Voila! You have created your very own body scrub.

For some ingredient inspiration, check out "10 Best Body Scrubs For Aging Skin."

Reuse or Recycle the Empty Bottle

Is that giant bottle of sunscreen too cumbersome to travel with? An expired moisturizer bottle is still a perfectly useful container. Why not pour sunscreen into it? Or anything you want! Clean out the container thoroughly with soap and water, then add the travel-safe product and use a funnel to avoid the mess. Just make sure to check the seal. You would not want it to leak all over your luggage.

Alternatively, you can recycle the old moisturizer container if you’re feeling economical. Check the label to see if it’s recyclable. You can feel good about saving energy and reducing wastes.

Donate Non-Expired Moisturizer

If you know you are not going to use it, then donate the moisturizer. But remember that unopened products still expire! Before you sell or give away old products to friends or family, take note of the expiration dates.

How Often Should You Use Moisturizer?

Should you even bother to moisturize? Yes! Use up that moisturizer before it expires. Moisturizers revitalize the skin by providing much-needed hydration and nutrients, such as iron and vitamins A, E, and D, which have been shown to improve the appearance of skin, hair, and nails.

Generally, it is recommended to moisturize two to three times per day. This is not a rule, though. Your skin is unique. You are the best person to determine what your skin can handle.

See Jason moisturizer with vitamin E on Amazon.

Always do a skin test before fully committing to the product. Test a small patch of skin with a small amount of the product. Pick a small area, like the forearm. If you develop a skin reaction, then immediately stop using the product and contact your doctor right away.

If you're considering adding a moisturizer to your daily skincare regime, check out "What To Apply On Your Face Before Sleeping?"


Moisturizer is an important part of any skin regimen. Be wary of expired moisturizers. Find creative uses for it instead. Treat your skin well. Moisturize as needed. You know your skin the best!

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