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How to Determine the Shelf Life of Beauty Products Made at Home

When making your own beauty products, there isn’t a printed expiry date you can turn to. Knowing when to keep or toss your products can make people feel a little worried about making their own products in the first place, but it really isn’t that complicated or scary (I promise!). Here’s how to find out the shelf life of beauty products you make at home.

shelf life of beauty products, pouring salves

One of my favourite activities to do is interact with all the comments on my blog posts. Sometimes, they’re lovely comments about your own garden or musings about nature, while other times, they’re questions about the blog.

And I love it when you ask questions! I’m always ready to help clarify things or let you pick my brain.

One of the questions I get a lot on my DIY beauty or cleaning recipes is how do you know the shelf life of beauty products. So, I wanted to break it down for you, as it depends on what ingredients were used.

Here’s what you need to know about homemade cosmetics’ shelf life.

Shelf Life of Beauty Products Without Water

If a product doesn’t have water in the ingredient list, such as my balms and salves, you can use the soonest expiration date from your ingredients. The final product will last as long as the earliest expiry date from the ingredients you use.

For instance, let’s say you make a lip balm with beeswax, cocoa butter, and grapeseed. Out of those ingredients, the cocoa butter has the earliest expiry date. Even if the beeswax and the grapeseed oil last longer, the lip balm’s expiry date will be the same as the cocoa butter.

Using the earliest expiry date is the general rule of thumb, but also use your common sense. If it has a weird, funky smell or looks off, throw it away. I know when you make products yourself, you become attached to them from all the time and money you put into them. But it’s never worth the risk. Just throw it away!

shelf life of beauty products
My balms and salves are a staple in my medicine cabinet.

Shelf Life of Beauty Products With Water

When you start working with water, it’s a whole other ballgame. Anything that has water in it will only last a few days. Water will grow bacteria in it and is only good for a few days unless you add a preservative.

For example, my sugar scrub is good on its own since it’s just sugar and oils. But once you add your wet hands into it while in the tub or shower, the sugar scrub will only last a week.

Meanwhile, my magnesium lotion has water in it, but I’ve added leucidal as a preservative. The lotion then lasts for about six months.

How to Make DIY Beauty Products Last

You can extend the shelf life of water-based items without preservatives by keeping them in the fridge. Just like our food, the cold will help slow down bacteria growth and keep the product good for longer.

how to make DIY beauty products last
Magnesium lotion with chamomile

Products With Fresh vs Dried Herbs

Many of my recipes harness the healing properties of plants from my garden. And almost all of them use dried herbs. When you dry herbs first, you’re removing the moisture (AKA water) that will cause the degradation of the product and the growth of bacteria that can cause the product to spoil.

Check out my guide for drying herbs for more information on the different ways you can do this.

One big exception is when I use lemon balm. You can only get medicinal properties from fresh lemon balm. I use it fresh in my favourite cleaning spray, lip balm for cold sores, and to make my bar soap.

How Long Does Scent Last?

People also like to ask how long the scent will last in products, especially bar soaps and bath bombs. Over time, the scent and colour will naturally fade. The essential oils will dissipate in the air.

To help keep the fragrance of your products, store them in an airtight container. This will help the essential oils to last longer.

But say you keep a rose scented product with a mint one in the same bin, everything will end up smelling like the more dominant scent mint. Keep scents separate, or the scents will mingle.

FAQ About Skin Care Shelf Life

Do natural skincare products expire?

Yes. Refer to the expiry dates listed on your ingredients list. The earliest expiry date is the skin care shelf life. If your product contains water and doesn’t have a preservative, it will only be good for a few days before bacteria begin to break it down.

What’s the best way to store homemade skin care products?

Always place items in an airtight container with a lid. Your goal is to preserve the scent and make sure the product doesn’t go bad. Keeping moisture and dust away from your product is the best way to extend your DIY cosmetic’s shelf life.

How can you keep homemade cosmetics fresh?

Storing items in the fridge will help prolong your products’ life since it slows the growth of bacteria. This is especially important if your product contains water and doesn’t have any preservatives. Products without water do not need to be refrigerated.

More Need-To-Know DIY Beauty Info

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