Your bathroom cabinet can become a wasteland of opened and unopened grooming products. If you find a container of shaving cream Santa left in your stocking three years ago is it still safe to use? Maybe, but there might be consequences.
Unopened shaving cream products have a shelf life of up to three years. The rate of product deterioration is affected by the ingredient makeup and storage conditions. Opened products will deteriorate faster and should be used within six to twelve months. Expired shaving cream may not be as effective, and opened containers may dry out or spoil.
Read on to learn the ins and outs of using expired shaving cream!
How do you know if shaving cream is expired?
We are all familiar with expiration and best-by dates on food. A glass of milk consumed two weeks after the best-by date can have chunky, unpleasant consequences.
Shaving cream products can have an expiration date or a period after opening (POA) date printed on the container. The expiration date refers to the date that the manufacturer deems the product will perform as expected. The POA date refers to the number of months after opening that the product should be adequate.
Shaving cream is classified as a cosmetic product by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). As a rule, cosmetic products are not legally required to carry expiration dates or shelf-life dates. Manufacturers are required to make sure their products are safe and able to perform as they claim, so many opt to print either a manufacture or expiration date on the container.
If the product doesn’t contain an expiration date, the manufacturer will still print a batch or lot number on the product. This number can be entered online to check for expiration and shelf life information.
Product expiration dates are printed in a month and year format. Shaving creams are typically guaranteed effective 2-3 years after manufacture. During this time, ingredients are the freshest and should perform as intended.
The period after opening emblem contains a picture of a jar with an open lid plus a number followed by the letter “M” (24M = 24 months). The number represents the number of months the product should remain effective and fresh once it is opened.
What happens if a shaving cream is expired?
The expiration date says 12/2022. Does this mean your can will self-destruct come January 2023? Not likely – unless your name is Ethan Hunt.
Expired shaving cream can lose effectiveness. It may not lather as well, the consistency can change, and the ingredients might separate. If the container has already been opened, the cream can dry out or bacteria can cause spoilage.
Shaving creams are often a mixture of water and oils. These ingredients can separate and lose viscosity over time. If the cream has been stored in a hot, damp, or humid location for a long period, the ingredients can lose their efficacy, and bacteria and mold can be introduced.
Leaving the lid off the product can cause it to dry out and become unusable.
Can I still use expired shaving cream?
Some things are permissible but not necessarily advisable. Before you slather on expired shaving cream, inspect it with your eyes and nose.
You can still use expired shaving cream but do so with caution. If the look or smell seems off, it is best to discontinue use. Unopened creams in a can with preservative ingredients will hold their integrity longer than already-opened creams in a jar with no preservatives.
Creams in aerosol cans or pump-style containers often contain preservatives like parabens. These chemicals help extend the shelf life by protecting the ingredients from bacteria and fungi. These application methods also cut down on the chance of accidentally adding bacteria to the product.
Shaving creams without added preservatives lose that extra layer of protection so unwanted bugs can grow more easily. Creams housed in jars or tubs where finger or brush application is required are easily contaminated. Chunk it if the usually white cream has a brown, yellow, or pink hue.
A good ‘ole sniff test is also important. If the cream has an off odor, don’t chance it.
Is expired shaving cream toxic?
The likelihood of being poisoned by your shaving cream is very low.
While expired shaving creams aren’t considered toxic, creams made up of high volumes of water can grow mold over time. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions so affected products should be avoided.
Extremes in temperature can cause mold to multiply quickly. Bottom line: if you don’t know how the expired cream has been stored, throw it away and treat yourself to a new one.
Fun fact: Before shaving cream was invented, men often used animal fat and oil to lubricate the skin before a shave. Imagine keeping a vat of pig fat by the sink.
Can expired shaving cream make you sick?
Chances are you won’t lose your lunch or pass out in the shower after using expired shaving cream, but there are a few precautions to take.
Since you aren’t ingesting the shaving cream, it won’t make you sick but it can adversely affect your skin or eyes. Skin rashes and reactions are common when using out-of-date or contaminated products. Bacteria-laden products can cause eye infections if accidentally introduced.
If bacteria are growing in the shaving cream and then the cream is applied to freshly shaven skin, the unwanted bugs can be introduced into pores causing various rashes and infections. The same goes for shaving cream accidentally getting into your eyes. Active ingredients can cause contact dermatitis as they begin breaking down.
Decided to take a gamble on expired shaving cream? It’s smart to do a 24-hour skin patch test first. If you don’t react, then it’s probably safe to apply it to the rest of your face.
Can you use out-of-date shaving cream if it hasn’t been opened?
There’s a big difference between an unopened tub of shaving cream that got pushed to the back of your bathroom cabinet a year ago and a 50-year-old unopened tub found at an antique store.
If you know it has been stored properly, you can use unopened, out-of-date shaving cream within a reasonable time period.
Under controlled conditions, an unopened can of cream should remain stable for three years. Preservative-free shaving creams won’t last as long.