HomeDIY CraftHow to Determine the Shelf Life of Beauty Products Made at Home

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


When making your own beauty products, there is no printed expiration date that you can use. Knowing when to keep or throw away your products can make people feel a little anxious about making their own products, but it really doesn’t have to be that complicated or scary (I promise!). Here’s how you can find out the shelf life of beauty products you make at home.

Shelf life of beauty products, ointments

One of my favorite activities is interacting with all the comments on my blog posts. Sometimes, they’re beautiful 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 your brain.

One of the most frequently asked questions on my DIY beauty or cleaning recipes is this How do you know the shelf life of beauty products?, So, I wanted to break it down for you, because it depends on what ingredients were used.

Here’s what you need to know about the shelf life of home cosmetics.

Shelf life of beauty products without water

If a product does not have water in the ingredient list, such as my balms and salves, you can Use your ingredients as soon as they reach their expiration date. The final product will last up to the initial expiration date of the material you use.

For example, let’s say you make a lip balm from beeswax, cocoa butter, and grape seeds. Of those ingredients, cocoa butter has the earliest expiration date. Even though the beeswax and grape seed oil last longer, the lip balm’s expiration date will be the same as cocoa butter’s.

The general rule of thumb is to use the earliest expiration date, but also use your common sense. If it has a strange, foul smell or looks bad, throw it away. I know that when you create products yourself, you become attached to them with all the time and money you invest in them. But it’s never worth the risk. Just throw it away!

Shelf life of beauty products with water

When you start working with water, it’s a whole different ball game. Anything that contains water will only last a few days. Bacteria will grow in the water and it is only good for a few days unless you add a preservative.

For example, my sugar scrub is great on its own because it’s just sugar and oil. But once you get your wet hands into it in the tub or shower, the sugar scrub will only last about a week.

Meanwhile, there is water in my magnesium lotion, but I have Lucidal added as a preservative. Then the lotion lasts for about six months.

How to Make DIY Beauty Products Last

You can extend the shelf life of water-based items without preservatives keep them in the fridge, Like our food, freezing will help slow the growth of bacteria and keep the product good for longer.

Fresh vs. Dried Herb Products

Many of my recipes use the healing properties of plants from my garden. And almost all of them use dry herbs. When you dry herbs first, you are removing the moisture. (aka water) which will cause corrosion of the product and lead to the growth of bacteria which can spoil the product.

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

The one big exception is when I use lemon balm. You can get medicinal properties only from fresh lemon balm. I use it fresh in my favorite cleaning spray, cold sore lip balm, and to make my bar soap.

How long does the scent last?

People also like to ask how long the scent will last in products, especially bar soaps and bath bombs. Over time, the smell and color will naturally fade. Essential oils will dissolve in the air.

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

But suppose you put a rose-scented product in the same container with mint, everything will smell of the more dominant scent, mint. Keep the scents separate, otherwise the scents will mix together.

FAQs about Skin Care Shelf Life

Do natural skin care products expire?

Yes. Refer to the expiration dates listed on your ingredients list. The earliest expiration date is the skin care shelf life. If your product contains water and no preservatives, it will only be good for a few days before bacteria begins to break it down.

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

Always keep items in an airtight container with a lid. Your goal is to preserve the aroma and ensure that the product does not spoil. Keeping moisture and dust away from your product is the best way to extend the shelf life of your DIY cosmetic.

How can you keep home cosmetics fresh?

Storing items in the fridge will help extend the life of your products as it slows down the growth of bacteria. This is especially important if your product contains water and no preservatives. Products without water do not need to be refrigerated.

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