This article is about deodorants and antiperspirants.
A deodorant is a substance mainly used to prevent or mask unwanted body odors, which is why we primarily use it in places where the odor originates - armpits, groin (in both men and women) as well as feet.
Antiperspirant is a subclass of deodorant whose primary role is to prevent sweat itself; it accomplishes its goal by blocking sweat glands. For this reason, antiperspirant has a much wider area of use as it is normally applied to any body part that gets excessively sweaty.
Unfortunately, deodorant does expire. However, how long it can be used depends on a number of factors and this period can be anywhere between a couple of months and three years.
Does Deodorant Expire?
A deodorant is a tool for reducing body odor, and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Just like any tool, however, deodorant can wear out over time and, yes, expire.
According to the FDA, deodorants are classified as "personal care products" or simply "cosmetics." Antiperspirants, on the other hand, are considered over-the-counter drugs as they reduce sweating, i.e., interfere with the bodily function of perspiration.
Unlike drugs, deodorants and other cosmetic products are not regulated by the FDA's premarket approval authority—either in terms of ingredients or shelf life. This essentially means that there is not a single piece of US legislation that requires cosmetics manufacturers to put expiration dates on their products' labels.
If a company does opt to display a deodorant expiration date, you can usually find it in small print on the back or at the bottom of the product packaging.
How Long Will It Last?
According to the FDA, the length of time during which you can use a cosmetic product, such as a deodorant, basically depends on how you use it. Some of the things they recommend is keeping the product containers clean and storing them in a cool place to avoid light and heat exposure.
This means it's probably best to avoid leaving your deodorant bottle in a car on a hot summer day or taking it to the beach; that is, if you don't want the preservatives in the product to break down. And trust us, you don't – nobody wants bacterial growth in their skin products.
The shelf life of a cosmetic product can also depend on its formulation. Most deodorants contain antibacterial ingredients, since they are developed to stop the odour-causing bacteria from proliferating. Most skin experts recommend using cosmetic products within a year.
However, in case of deodorant you can expect it to last much longer than that, again, assuming you store it properly. Due to its antibacterial formulation, some experts recommend using deodorant for about three years from the manufacture date. This is three times longer than other cosmetic products!
When it comes to deodorant shelf life, its formulation can also be a downside, which is especially true in the case of deodorants with natural ingredients. These types of deodorants are free of chemical preservatives such as parabens and contain essential oils that can evaporate quicker. As a result, natural deodorants usually last much shorter than the “chemical” ones and their shelf life is usually between a few months and a year.
Finally, avoid opening your deodorant packaging until you are ready to start using the product. Once the package is open, the clock starts ticking, albright rather slowly.
Can You Use Expired Deodorant? Is It Dangerous?
Most solid deodorants (and antiperspirants, for that matter) contain pretty stable ingredients that don't degrade much with time. This is why it is also unlikely that expired deodorant will harm your health or your skin.
If the package is still sealed, you can probably still use the product. However, if the product has already begun to go bad, it may still cause skin irritation, so it's best to throw it away.
If you experience any kind of skin irritation after deodorant application, it is probably best to stop using it and consult your dermatologist. You can ask them for a recommendation about a non-irritating product that will be gentler on your skin.
How to Tell if Your Deodorant Has Expired?
Most deodorants are made to last for several years following their manufacture date, so, unless you buy your cosmetics in bulk, chances are you won't have to worry about your deodorant expiring.
However, you can keep an eye on any changes in smell, color, or consistency, as these are some of the first indicators that your deodorant is past its prime. As the formula of your deodorant deteriorates, its fragrance can start to fade and the product itself can gradually become less effective. If you are using a solid deodorant, you might also want to check for texture changes such as crumbling. If your deodorant is in the form of a gel, you might notice it drying up.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, yes, cosmetic products, including deodorants, do expire. The expiration date is not shown because it is not required by the law and not because these products can be used for an indefinite amount of time. This is why it is always good to be aware of the warning signs so you can know when to react and stop using your deodorant.
As antibacterial products, conventional deodorants usually have a pretty long shelf life – between one and three years, but this depends on the conditions in which they are kept. If a deodorant is stored poorly, it will go bad faster. On the other hand, deodorants stored in good conditions may be used without any issues for years.
Deodorants with natural ingredients usually last much shorter due to the lack of preservatives.
Last but not least, if you are in doubt and just can't be sure whether your product is still good, it's probably best to be on the safe side and properly dispose of it.