If you’re like me, you’ve stared down the ingredient list on your bottle of cedar-scented body wash and thought to yourself, “what is all this stuff” or “does body wash expire?” It’s a good question. Depending on the size of the bottle and how often you shower, that bottle could be on your shelf for a while.
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Does Body Wash Expire?
The short answer, yes. The long answer, yes, technically.
Once opened and exposed to the air, body wash will begin to expire. However, shelf life varies wildly depending on the ingredients used to produce it.
If you bought your body wash from a store like Target or Wal-mart, chances are you don’t have to worry about your body wash expiring. Go grab a random body wash off the shelf and look at the label. See all the 200 point Scrabble words? Turns out these ingredients are mostly dyes, concentrated fragrances, detergents, water, and preservatives. Put simply, they’ll last a very long time.
Hopefully you’re a little pickier about what goes onto your body and have opted for a more natural body wash. If so, keep and eye on that expiration date. Natural body washes are usually lacking in the preservatives department, which will drastically reduce shelf life.
How Do You Know If Body Wash Is Expired?
You cannot always trust the expiration date. Commercial products tend to outlive their best-by date by weeks, if not months. Natural body washes might even expire earlier depending on how well they’re stored. Either way, there are a few ways to tell if it has expired.
Typically you’ll notice a lot of separation between the ingredients. If you squeeze some into your hand, or onto a loofa, and the consistency seems oilier or waterier than usual, you have separation.
Loss of scent
Your body wash has two purposes: to clean you and make you smell good. Sometimes the detergents that kill bacteria have their own scent. A loss of scent from your body wash means those ingredients have expired. So, now not only is your body wash leaving your manhood unscented, it isn’t even cleaning it properly.
Lack of lather
Ever used a body wash that flat-out refused to lather up? It just feels wrong and isn’t very satisfying to use. Well, it feels wrong because it is wrong. The lather, or bubbles, you get from rubbing soap on your skin is important; it loosens up the sweat and grime so water can easily wash it away.
In natural products, browning or yellowing is what to look out for. Commercial products use artificial coloring which makes spotting a color change harder. You will mostly just notice the color dulling over time.
Mold and rot
This one is obvious. You wouldn’t eat a piece of moldy bread. At least I hope not. The same goes for moldy and/or rotten body wash. Just throw it out!
How Long Does It Take For Body Wash To Expire?
Commercial Body Wash
Commercial body wash, once opened, can last you over 12 months. Realistically, 12 months is just a general expectation. It’s entirely possible, even common, for a body wash to last months longer. This is only possible with the help of preservatives, which these products are packed with. However, if somehow you manage to contaminate your body wash by combining old and new bottles or letting dirty shower water get inside, chances are it’ll expire sooner.
Natural Body Wash
On average, 6 to 8 months is a solid estimate. It’s hard to say for sure though, with such a wide variety of ingredients out there. Assume the expiration date is a strict deadline. You may be able to get away with going a month or two past it but you’re pushing it at that point. Take into consideration how quickly you go through body wash when buying the natural kind. It’s entirely possible for it to expire before you’ve used it all.
Does Body Wash Expire If Unopened?
Short answer, yes. The long answer, yes, but it takes longer.
Opening body wash exposes it to the environment, then bacteria get in there and do what they do best. But, that doesn’t mean the bottle you found under the sink is good just because the plastic seal is still on it. After about 3 years sitting on a shelf, or under a sink, body wash is not worth using.
Over time air can actually seep through the bottle, bringing bacteria with it. Even worse than that is the plastic bottle itself leaching into and contaminating the product. Some plastics contain BPA, a known carcinogen, and you really do not want to use that stuff on your skin. Thankfully most bottles are BPA free but it’s still something to be mindful of.
Is It Safe To Use Expired Body Wash?
Yes, it is safe to use expired body wash, I just wouldn’t recommend it.
It’s important for body wash to lather. The lather lifts sweat and grime from your skin so water can wash it away. Expired body wash doesn’t lather very well, so you end up using more product and water to get the same results. Detergents, which kill bacteria, will start to break down over time and become less effective; not something you want in a product meant to clean you.
For the most part, besides mold, you can safely ignore the signs of expiration for a couple months. Doing so isn’t going to hurt you. You may experience some skin irritation, but mainly you’ll just be dealing with it not cleaning as well. So if your body wash starts to show signs of expiration, don’t feel like you have to immediately run out and buy a new bottle, just know you may need to scrub down a second time to get the same level of clean.