There are several important decisions to make when shopping for deodorant—scent, price, how long the protection lasts, ingredients and so on.
But one thing most people never consider is at least borderline fundamental… Does deodorant expire? If so, does it have an expiration date?
It’s a good question, so let’s give it a thorough treatment.
There’s actually more involved in the answer you’d think.
And some of the factors that play into that answer may help sharpen your decision the next time you go to buy deodorant.
What Is A Deodorant?
These are substances formulated to remove/mask odors in specific areas of the body such as the armpits, and foot.
Some deodorants can depress perspiration and therefore the resulting odor.
Since it’s going straight on your skin, you should try and read the ingredients (and understand what they do) before buying.
And make sure you’re buying from established brands with no questionable practices.
The Official Answer
You’d think the FDA would provide a simple, solid answer to this question. But if you did you’d be wrong.
For better or worse, deodorants are classified as cosmetic products, and cosmetics don’t require an expiration date.
Some companies add one anyway. But this tends to be hit and miss when it comes to deodorant.
Antiperspirants actually fall into a slightly different category, though. They contain aluminum salts as part of their formulas to stop perspiration.
And because they actually affect the structure of the body and one of its functions, they fall into the category of an over-the-counter drug.
As such, they’re required to carry an expiration date, even though it’s not really necessary.
Deodorant Ingredients and the Time Factor
As you’ve probably suspected, the ingredients in the majority of antiperspirants and solid deodorants are quite stable. So, they usually don’t break down over time.
That means there’s little risk in using a deodorant that’s been on your shelf for a period that starts to feel like forever. The stability of the ingredients means they won’t harm your skin or your clothing.
Although you might notice that they are becoming less effective.
The Risk Factor
Is there a risk factor in using a deodorant that’s been on your shelf for a long time? Not usually, but that’s an individual decision.
And most manufacturers will recommend replacing your deodorant after a year.
This usually has little or nothing to do with the ingredients, however.
The reason for the recommendation has to do with the possibility of bacterial growth on the stick, which could theoretically lead to an infection if that bacteria was allowed to flourish.
But most deodorants are antibacterial products, to begin with.
So, the possibility of that happening isn’t that severe at all.
If you ask a cosmetic chemist for a final call, you’ll probably get a number like three years for the ultimate throwaway, so your ultimate window is likely somewhere in the 1-3 year range.
Do a Double-Check
There is another more informal way to check the status of your deodorant when it comes to the expiration factor: online reviews.
These won’t provide you with an official expiration date, of course, but they may give you some extra information to help you with your decision.
Some products degrade differently than others, and reviewers notice.
You may spot a review or three that says that whatever deodorant you’ve got on your shelf flakes earlier than other products, for instance, or the fragrance fade is faster.
If you see enough of those kinds of reviews you may want to bail on your deodorant, especially if those reviews cite a time factor.
It’s an individual call, but those are the things that play into it.
There’s no sense worrying about a deodorant that’s been on your shelf for a long time, but there is some peace of mind to be gleaned from what’s involved in the decision to move on.
Frequently Asked Questions About Expiring Deodorants:
Is it OK to use expired deodorant?
Deodorant isn’t supposed to expire in the first place.
So, if you have one that has an expiry date printed on the bottle, you may be wondering if you should use it when it gets past that date.
There is no study or evidence that suggests it’ll harm you if you use it.
The formula should be stable, although the scent and formula may have deteriorated. All in all, the best advice is to discard expired deodorant.
While it won’t harm you, it’s better to be on the safer side at all times.
How long should deodorant last?
There is no specific duration for deodorants to last.
This is because the ingredients used in different ones are different and since that plays into how long it lasts, it is quite different among brands.
Also, the size, how frequently you’re using it, and how much you’re using on each occasion will affect how long your deodorants should last.
According to Schmidt, the average is about 3 months. If you use it sparingly, barring any other factor, it may last you longer than that.
Note: If it’s about how long it can stay when applied, most will last for a full day, so you only have to apply them once.
How do you know if deodorant is expired?
The first indication is the expiry date, usually printed on the bottom of the bottle. If that is not present, you should examine the scent.
If it has changed from what it used to be, it may be a sign that it has expired.
What can you do with old deodorant?
There isn’t much you can do with old deodorants except dispose of them if you’re not comfortable using them. However, it’s still good, you can still use them.