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How Long Does Face Wash Last? (EXPLAINED)

Using those extreme couponing life hacks to stock up on hygiene items sounds like a good idea until you find yourself sitting on the bathroom floor wondering, “how long does face wash last?”

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Do Facial Washes Expire?

The FDA does not require cosmetic products to carry an expiration date, but lots of face washes actually do expire.

Unlike your moldy cheese or fuzzy fruit, cosmetic items turn more subtly. Over time, they lose potency and just won’t work as well against your skin. You might not even notice that your product is expired until you have a negative skin reaction to it.

That’s why it’s especially important to monitor your face washes and catch those early signs of expiration. Your face is probably the second worst place to get a raging rash.

And remember, sometimes the best face washes for men aren’t necessarily those that last the longest. You want to look for the products with high-quality ingredients and the best end results.

How Do You Know If Face Wash Is Expired?

Aside from tracking the date you purchased your face wash and throwing it out after a year, there are some subtle (and not-so-subtle) indicators that you can look for to figure out whether it’s expired:


Does the face wash advertise a sharp outdoorsy scent? Is that scent still there? If not, it’s probably starting its journey into expired territory. Do a quick sniff check before you put it on your skin to make sure that the original fragrances are still somewhat intact.

Keep in mind, skin care products inevitably lose their scents. Scents are one of the first things to go. That doesn’t mean the product is totally unusable. But if your “ocean breeze with sharp seaweed” face wash smells more like your bathroom than a beachside, do you really want to keep using it? 


Just like scents, color can start to fade when a face wash begins to expire. Keep an eye on how vibrant your “orange morning glow” face wash looks compared to its first-opened glory days. 

The downside is that it’s harder to notice a subtle color change than other expiration indicators, so this method really only works if you have some way to compare your current face wash to when it was fresh out of the bottle.


If your face wash has slowly morphed into a face scrub, that’s not a special skin care easter egg. It’s more like a bug. If your face wash is starting to show signs of texture changes, it’s really time to throw it out.

Skin Reaction

Whether your face wash is old or brand new, you should get rid of it if you experience a breakout, rash, or dryness. But if you start to have a funky skin reaction to one of your most trusted bottles of face wash, that probably means it’s expired.

How Long Does Face Wash Last?

Before you freak out about a face wash expiration deadline you didn’t realize existed, think about how long a bottle of face wash typically lasts. Depending on the bottle size, you probably use up your face wash in about 1-4 months.

That’s really more than enough time to use up all the product before it goes bad. Most opened face washes are at their best for 6 months to a year. If you’re buying an all-natural face wash, try to finish it a little faster than something store-bought. The perishable organic ingredients will fade faster.

As long as you’re not stocking up years in advance, you really don’t need to worry about your face wash expiring (Read: Does body wash expire?). And if you do have a face wash that’s been sitting in your medicine cabinet for over a year… do you really want to use it still? It sounds like you don’t enjoy it all that much. Throw it out and find a brand that you like more.

How Long Does Unopened Face Wash Last?

Store-bought face washes will last anywhere from 2-5 years sitting on a shelf unopened as long as you don’t expose them to extreme temperatures. After you pop the bottle, you should try to use the product within 6 months to a year, just as a rule of thumb. 

All-natural face washes are good for about 1 year unopened, unless they have extremely perishable ingredients, in which case you’ll probably want to open and use them within 3 months (which shouldn’t be too hard, when you think about how long your face washes typically last anyway). Don’t let the bottle lifespan be a deterrent from buying all-natural. All-natural soaps and hygiene items have tons of benefits for your skin.

Always read the bottle to see if the face wash carries any specific instructions. Usable life spans vary widely from brand to brand.

When Should You Throw Away Your Face Wash?

You should throw away your face wash if it shows any signs of expiring, is more than a year old, or has been sitting unused for over three months.

I follow the year-after-opening rule just to be safe. Even though lots of commercial face washes say they’re good for over 2-3 years, they start to lose their peak effectiveness after about a year. And there’s no point in using a face wash if it’s not the best option for your skin.

I follow the three-months-unused rule because at that point it’s just taking up space in your cabinet. Buy a new face wash that you’ll actually enjoy and want to use!

What Can You Do With Expired Face Wash?

You can throw that sh*t away.

At best, expired face wash will do nothing for your skin. At worst, it’ll cause a breakout, rash, or skin infection. It really depends on what kind of ingredients the bottle contains, and when those key ingredients started to go bad.

Put it in a rubber balloon and use it as a stress ball. Clean out the bottle and repurpose it for your own homemade sugar scrub. Smear it on your ex’s mailbox. But DON’T put expired face wash on your skin.

How Long Does 100ml Face Wash Last?

In my experience, using a small dollop of face wash twice daily, a 100 ml bottle lasts me about 2 months. Though, lots of guys I know are able to make their face washes last longer than mine. 

So when you’re buying a few containers of face wash in advance, stick to no more than 2-3 bottles. Any more will have a chance of expiring in your bathroom cupboard before you get to finish it.

The positive flipside is that if you like your face wash and use it every day, you really don’t have to worry about it going bad. You’ll finish the bottle before that happens. That’s why it’s worth investing in skin care products that you know you’re going to love.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.