You know that feeling on busy mornings when you can’t seem to find anything you own, including that tube of deodorant you desperately need? You look around in your medicine cabinet, only to find an old stick of expired deodorant from at least a few years ago. You take a whiff and it seems OK. Yet, you don’t want to risk it not working in case the dreaded body odor ensues and you get a little too close to your office crush.
In today’s consumer-driven world, we all tend to have multiple toothbrushes, chapsticks and yes, tubes of deodorant on-hand for long periods of time. It begs the question, though, does deodorant expire? And how can you tell?
Does Deodorant Expire?
Deodorant typically expires one to three years after the purchase date. You can usually find the expiration date listed on the back or bottom of the label. Using expired deodorant or antiperspirants won’t likely harm your health. However, the formula or fragrance of the product may deteriorate so, if you've opened or used your deo, you should replace it every six to 12 months for best results (closed deodorants can last for more than a year).
How to Tell if Your Deodorant Has Expired
If you’ve heard the negative buzz about aluminum in antiperspirants, and made the switch to a safe deodorant, you may be wondering when it will expire. While many regular and natural deodorants list an expiration date, only antiperspirants are required to carry one by the FDA, since they’re considered an over-the-counter drug (due to the fact that they actually affect how much you sweat, by plugging up your sweat ducts with aluminum salts). If your natural or aluminum-free deodorant doesn’t list an expiration date and you’ve had it for a year or more (or you can’t even remember how long ago you purchased it), you’ll want to toss it.
While expired deodorants and antiperspirants are likely fine to use up to a year after their expiration date, don’t simply assume it’s still working (or you might be facing that BO and office crush situation). You’ll want to check the following next:
- If it is a solid deodorant, is it starting to crumble?
- Has the color changed?
- If it’s a gel, is it starting to dry up?
- If it has a smell, does it smell as advertised, or has the scent changed, perhaps for the worse?
If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, best to toss it. If you’ve experienced skin irritation or an infection recently, you’ll also want to replace your deodorant and talk to your doctor or dermatologist about a non-irritating natural deodorant and skin-care regime ideal for your skin.
Storing Deodorant: Do’s and Don’ts
After purchasing your deodorant, storing it in a cool place can extend its shelf life. If possible, your deodorant should be stored away from the hot sun since some stick deodorants may melt in temperatures hotter than 77°F. If you go to the gym or yoga and keep deodorant in your exercise bag in your car, for example, keep it in the shade. Or, pick a cool spot like your gym locker instead.
If you buy multiple deodorants at once (hello, bulk shoppers!) store them in a cool place, such as your garage or pantry. Don’t remove any packaging or open the deodorant until you’re ready to use it.
How Often You Should Replace Deodorant
Yes, like most personal care products, deodorant is designed to have a long shelf life. But once you’ve opened it up and started using it, you’ll want to use it up within a year or let it go. And if you notice your expired deodorant isn’t working as effectively as when you first bought it, it’s time for a new one.
Also consider switching brands or varieties if your current deodorant starts to irritate your skin. Some people like to switch out their deodorant for a stronger version in the summer when the weather is warm, or when they go to the gym, for example. Or, you may want to ditch your old one for a deodorant without aluminum.
Don’t want to toss your expired deodorant in the trash? It’s possible to recycle it instead, which is always best done through a small-plastics recycling program. You can send expired cosmetics to TerraCycle and the shipping is free. Or, look for a TerraCycle location drop off box near you, for example at a Credo Beauty store.
Bottom Line: Most deodorants are designed to last for a number of years from the time they’re manufactured, so you probably won’t need to worry about them expiring. But keep an eye out for changes to your deo. If you’re concerned your natural deodorant or antiperspirant is expired, carefully check that the smell, color and texture seem OK. If not, it is time to throw it away and start over with a fresh tube.
Did your deodorant expire recently? Consider switching to a high-performance, aluminum-free deodorant.
Written by Jane Chertoff