Most good things -- including your hand lotions -- don't last forever. While it may be tempting to keep your favorite hand lotion for longer than you should, knowing when it's time to let it go is beneficial for your skin. Learn when it's time to toss your lotion out and replace it with a new bottle.
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The Hard Truth
Unfortunately, there's no definitive expiration date for lotions because there's no federal regulation outlining when hand lotions must claim an expiration date. However, most lotions are only meant to last you about two years. Lotions containing SPF -- because they contain an extra active ingredient -- will have to be replaced one year after opening, but will last three years if left sealed. If you use hand lotion on a regular basis, there's a good chance you will run out before you hit that expiration range.
Even though there isn't an exact expiration date to go with, you can look to other signs to tell that it's time to get rid of your lotion. If you notice any change in color, consistency or smell -- no matter how subtle -- your lotion has expired, so go ahead and pitch it out.
Using Expired Lotion
Generally, expired lotion won't hurt you -- it just won't be helpful. When lotion expires it doesn't generally "go bad" -- meaning, nothing bad will happen to you if you use it --it just means that whatever active ingredients made it work have lost their power. So, if you do apply, you won't get the benefit of the hydration that you did before. Depending on the product, it may moisturize a bit but won't be anywhere near as beneficial for your skin as a fresh bottle.
Keeping Lotion Fresh
Keep your lotion fresh for longer by minimizing the amount of time you put your fingers in it. Your fingers contain bacteria that can speed up expiration. The best way to pull this off is to buy lotion in pumps or tubes that won't require you to scoop the product out with your fingers. Also, store your lotion in a cool area. About 10 degrees below room temperature is optimal for the longest shelf life.