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Does Deodorant Expire?

variety of deodorants on table

You’re digging through your bathroom cabinet when you suddenly find a forgotten stick of deodorant.

Covered in dust, it’s clearly a few years old.

This raises an important question: Does deodorant expire?

Some deodorants have expiration dates while others don’t have a label at all.

If you’re not sure whether your old deodorant is safe for use, read on to learn more about the shelf life of deodorants and antiperspirants.

Here are three things you should know about deodorant expiration dates:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require cosmetic products, such as deodorant, to have an expiration date.
  • Antiperspirants, on the other hand, are considered a drug and must have an expiration date on their packaging.
  • Natural deodorants that use plant-derived ingredients are more likely to go bad faster.

Why Don’t Deodorants Have Expiration Dates?

If your deodorant doesn’t have an expiration date, that’s probably because it’s not required by law to have one.

The FDA does not have a specific rule that requires cosmetic products to have an expiration date.

Since deodorants are considered cosmetic products, they may or may not have an expiration date on their packaging.

natural deodorant types concept

However, antiperspirants work differently than deodorants and are considered by the FDA to be an over-the-counter drug.

As such, antiperspirants are required by law to have an expiration date.

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So, Will My Deodorant Expire?

The short answer is maybe. It depends on the specific ingredients in your deodorant.

Plants, flowers and other natural ingredients used in natural deodorants have a shorter shelf life than conventional deodorants and antiperspirants.

Natural ingredients can expire within a year or even a few months.

Additionally, the essential oils often used in natural deodorants to help mask body odor can evaporate over time.

Since natural deodorants work by masking body odor, this can greatly decrease their effectiveness.

Natural deodorants also don’t contain chemical preservatives, such as parabens, which are used in personal care products to help prolong their shelf life.

What About Conventional Deodorants and Antiperspirants?

Unlike natural deodorants, conventional deodorants and antiperspirants may contain preservatives to help boost their shelf life.

In other words, your conventional deodorant or antiperspirant will likely last for years after you bought it.

However, even preservatives break down over time and lose their effectiveness.

Eventually, your old deodorant or antiperspirant will need to be tossed.

Is There Any Harm in Using Expired Deodorant?

When it comes to cosmetics, the FDA strongly recommends throwing out products that could be expired.

This is because using expired cosmetics can sometimes result in bacterial infections.

However, deodorant has a slight edge over other expired cosmetic products because they’re specifically formulated to kill odor-causing bacteria.

The same can also be said of antiperspirants.

spraying deodorant into armpit

Although they work differently than deodorants, research has shown that the aluminum salts in antiperspirants have antibacterial properties (see claim: “The deodorant activity of these salts is partly due to antibacterial action.”)

So, bacterial infections may not be as much of a risk with your deodorant.

That being said, it’s probably best if you throw out your old deodorant or antiperspirant, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Using expired cosmetics, such as deodorant, can potentially cause skin irritation–like contact dermatitis–due to a breakdown of ingredients.

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How to Know if Your Deodorant Is Expired

A general rule of thumb is to toss your deodorant after one to three years.

Since most people use their deodorant daily, they rarely need to follow this rule.

If you aren’t sure when you bought your deodorant, look for the expiration date first (it’s usually on the bottom).

If there is no expiration date, inspect your natural deodorant carefully for mold.

Go ahead and give it a sniff, too.

Some natural deodorant ingredients will start to smell after they expire.

The Bottom Line

Like most things in life, cosmetics, toiletries and skin care products don’t last forever.

This is especially true if you’re using a natural deodorant.

However, if you’re using a conventional deodorant, you may be perfectly fine using it for years after you first bought it. 

But given the risk of potential skin reactions, we recommend replacing it if you’re unsure.

Better safe than sorry!

 

Reference

Wassberg, Thelma N., et al. “A Study of the Antibacterial Activity of Some Complex Aluminum Salts.” Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Scientific Ed.), vol. 45, no. 7, July 1956, pp. 498–500.

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