Can Aftershave Expire or Go Bad? (How It Lasts Unopened/Opened)

Most shavers have a specific routine, including a favorite aftershave. Aftershave products are often part of the equation because they can soothe freshly shaved skin and provide a pleasant scent.

Aftershave products are not required to list an expiration date on the label and technically do not expire but they can go bad. Ingredients inside aftershave can degrade or evaporate over time causing a change in fragrance and performance. Keep open aftershave tightly closed and store in a cool, dark place to extend shelf life.

Keep reading to find out how to know if your aftershave has gone bad, as well as the longevity differences between unopened and opened containers.

Does aftershave have an expiration date?

You’ve just received a new bottle of aftershave in your Christmas stocking, but you have a half-full bottle on your counter. Will you be able to use them both up before they go bad?

Currently, manufacturers are not required by U.S. law to state the shelf-life or print an expiration date on their aftershave labels. The FDA considers aftershave to be a cosmetic product, meaning manufacturers are not required to include an expiration date if the product is good for longer than 30 months.

Many companies will include a “best if used by” date on the package. Others may print a “period after opening” (POA) time limit on the label. A POA is found inside a jar or bottle graphic. It shows a number followed by the letter “M,” which represents the maximum number of months after opening the product should be used before being discarded.

Is it okay to use expired aftershave?

If your aftershave product does have a “best if used by” date and it has passed, you may wonder if you need to throw the product away, even if it still seems good.

Since aftershave products are not required to have an expiration date printed on the label, it can be difficult to know if the product will still be effective and safe to use. Aftershave ingredients are typically okay to use without any adverse effects years after manufacture especially if the package remains unopened.

The best thing to do is look at the specific ingredients stated on the label. Most liquid aftershave products have a high alcohol content. This is good news because alcohol helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria thus leading to a longer shelf-life.

Aftershave lotions, however, are often made with water. Water breeds bacteria. Additionally, lotions are often packaged in jars and tubs where fingers are used to retrieve the product, which can lead to a shortened shelf-life due to the introduction of skin bacteria into the lotion.

Does aftershave go bad?

The FDA defines shelf-life as the amount of time you can expect a product to look and perform as expected while staying safe for use.

Aftershave liquids and lotions don’t necessarily go bad, but the effectiveness of ingredients can decrease over time. The shelf-life of aftershaves can be affected by the product’s ingredients, how it’s used, and how it’s stored. 

Many aftershaves contain fragrances that can fade or may produce an off scent over time. Water-based products can separate and change in texture.

If your fingers enter the aftershave container the product could become susceptible to harmful bacteria and yeast. 

Excessive heat, humidity, and direct sunlight can cause aftershave products to experience a decrease in effectiveness and shelf-life. Leaving the cap off can introduce unwanted germs and cause alcohol and water to evaporate more rapidly.

Does unopened aftershave go bad?

Last year, consumers spent an average of $256 each on personal care products. Shavers spent many of those dollars on aftershave products, some of which may still be unopened on bathroom shelves.

Unopened aftershave can last for years as long as it is properly sealed and kept away from excessive light and heat. The alcohol and water contents shouldn’t evaporate quickly if the bottle stays factory sealed.

If you know you won’t be using the unopened bottle for a long time, you can go one step further and wrap tape around the cap for extra protection against evaporation.

Does opened aftershave go bad?

You ran out of your favorite aftershave and found an opened bottle under the bathroom cabinet. Is it okay to use until you can buy a new bottle?

Opened aftershave products won’t last as long as their unopened counterparts. While the aftershave may not be harmful to use, some of the ingredients like fragrances and oils can lose their potency. Alcohol and water evaporate over time, especially if the bottle has been opened.

If your aftershave is made from natural ingredients, it will spoil more quickly than one with added preservatives. A sniff test and close visual inspection will help you determine if you want to continue using or throw it out.

Why does my aftershave smell different?

You open your aftershave bottle and it smells weird or you catch a whiff of vinegar. Is it ok to use? 

Aftershaves often contain fragrances and scents. Due to oxygenation, these chemical compounds can break down over the years causing a sour smell or causing the scent to become faint.

The average shelf-life of perfumes and fragrances is three to five years. While using the strange-smelling product probably won’t harm you, the result can be less than stellar, especially if the undesirable odor lingers.

Heavier base note fragrances like woodsy or spicy scents tend to last longer than lighter base fragrances such as citrus. 

How to tell if your aftershave has gone bad or expired

Even if your aftershave bottle doesn’t have an expiration date printed on it, there are still ways you can determine if it’s still smart to use.

You can tell if your aftershave has gone bad or has expired by:

  • Checking the color – Over time the color of your product can change due to age. Old products will result in a darker color than the original. The color can also change from transparent to murky or opaque.
  • Taking a sniff – If you smell an unpleasant or off-putting odor, that’s a sure sign your aftershave is compromised.
  • Watching for any adverse skin reactions – Deteriorating ingredients can sometimes cause skin irritation. If you apply the aftershave and notice uncharacteristic redness or a rash, that’s an indicator to quit using the product.

Tips to keep your aftershave lasting longer before going bad or expiring

You’ve spent your hard-earned money on your favorite aftershave. How do you keep it in usable condition for as long as possible?

To prolong your aftershave’s usability:

  • Store in a cool, dry place.
  • Keep it factory-sealed until ready for use.
  • When in use, keep the cap screwed on tightly when stored.
  • Keep away from direct sunlight.
  • Always use clean, dry hands to apply.