Does Witch Hazel Expire? Yes and Here Is Why!

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Depending on your family background growing up, Witch Hazel may or may not have been a very common occurrence in your home.

For many people, Witch Hazel is a topical astringent medication that is said to help with a number of ailments, ranging from bruises, acne, swelling, skin sagging, and even as a way to stop or slow bleeding.

While many people have put out claims that it can help with internal disease and illnesses, like tuberculosis, tumors, or even cancer, there isn’t a lot of science that backs them up.

Witch Hazel is often in either a liquid or a cream-based form and is made from several ingredients that are found in nature. For most people,

Witch Hazel is most commonly seen in its watery form. This has ultimately resulted in people not quite sure whether the topical medication has an actual expiration date.

In this overview, we’ll go over Witch Hazel, its ingredients, and whether or not it can expire as well as if it can, how long you’ll have before needing to replace it.

Does Witch Hazel Expire? A Short Answer:

The short answer is yes, Witch Hazel does expire, all organic or natural products will eventually go bad. The plant product witch hazel is often used as a skin remedy for itching, swelling, inflammation, insect bites, minor burns, acne, and soothing pain.

Like any medicine, it has a shelf life that only lasts for so long. Depending on the witch hazel’s type, preservation, and handling, the expiration varies.

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Now there are other important things to be aware of before and when using witch hazel:

What is In Witch Hazel?

As mentioned earlier, Witch Hazel is an all-natural astringent medicine that is used topically to reduce skin-based injuries and irritation. Each bottle is made with distilled water and the extract from dried leaves, bark, and witch hazel twigs.

Is Witch Hazel Safe for Long-Term Use?

A natural astringent, witch hazel is derived from the leaves and bark of the witch hazel shrub. It has been used for ages to help treat psoriasis, acne, and eczema, among other skin disorders. It is a common ingredient in many skincare products due to its antibacterial qualities. What about long-term safety? Excerpt:

Sure, is the response. In general, witch hazel is regarded as safe when used consistently.

Shelf Life of Witch Hazel

Long Shelf Life

Witch hazel has a relatively long shelf life due to its natural astringent and antimicrobial properties. When stored properly, it can remain effective for an extended period.

Alcohol Content

Most witch hazel products contain a significant amount of alcohol, which acts as a natural preservative. This alcohol content helps extend the product’s shelf life and prevent the growth of bacteria.

Proper Storage

To maximize the shelf life of witch hazel, store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and excessive heat. Keeping the lid tightly closed also helps prevent evaporation and contamination.

Signs of Expiration

Change in Color or Smell

If witch hazel has gone bad, you might notice a change in color or an unpleasant odor. It’s best not to use the product if it appears discolored or has an off-putting scent.

Visible Particles

Expired witch hazel might develop sediment or particles. If you see any foreign particles in the liquid, it’s a sign that the product is no longer suitable for use.


Witch hazel that has expired may not provide the same benefits and results as fresh, properly stored witch hazel. It might not effectively address skin concerns or offer its usual soothing properties.

Versatility and Uses of Witch Hazel


Witch hazel is often used as a toner to help balance the skin’s pH, reduce excess oil, and minimize the appearance of pores. It can also provide relief for skin irritations and minor cuts.

Acne Treatment

The natural astringent properties of witch hazel make it a popular choice for treating acne. It can help cleanse the skin, reduce inflammation, and prevent breakouts.

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Soothing Properties

Witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory properties make it effective for soothing skin after sunburns, insect bites, and minor skin irritations.

Hemorrhoid Relief

Witch hazel is used to alleviate discomfort and itching associated with hemorrhoids. It can provide a cooling sensation and reduce inflammation.

Can Witch Hazel Go Bad?

The simple answer is yes, Witch Hazel can expire.

In fact, in most cases, you can expect it to expire after around two years.

If your particular brand includes alcohol as one of its ingredients, this may extend its life for a few months, but the easiest way to think about it is that you’ll need a new bottle every two years.

If you want to be sure, most bottles will have an expiration date on either the lid or near the Universal Product Code (UPC). It may also be near the barcode at the bottom of the bottle.

Ultimately, if you want to be sure if your bottle of Witch Hazel has expired, you can always check its color and its smell.

While Witch Hazel will naturally have a clear appearance while smelling a bit like root beer, Witch Hazel that has expired will often have a yellowish tint while smelling somewhat “off”.

Lab-Made Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel that is made in a lab can often have a much longer shelf life due to them often having preservatives and chemicals that can extend their lifetime.

In these cases, they may be able to last upwards of five years before expiring. Even still, many of the same tests to verify its safety still apply.

How to Tell Witch Hazel Has Expired

There are a few ways to tell if it’s already expired. One, using witch hazel that’s several years old after it’s opened isn’t advisable.

If you’re not sure, check to see how it smells. If it has a woody odor similar to root beer, it probably hasn’t expired. But if it gives off a fermented or dulled smell, it’s past its recommended life expectancy.

Keep in mind, not only is expired witch hazel useless. It can be downright unpleasant and even harmful.

Medical reports have documented users experiencing skin defects and rashes. When your medicinal skin product starts giving you a rash instead of relief, it defeats the purpose.

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How to Make Your Witch Hazel Last Longer

Witch hazel can expire very quickly if not handled correctly. In order for your witch hazel to last after the first usage, practice proper sanitation.

Never double-dip and always use clean cotton swabs and brushes. If you’re applying it with your fingers, always wash your hands before handling it.

Bacteria can build up quickly and if it’s contaminated, you might as well throw it out.

Some people recommend purchasing it in small quantities to avoid expiring. If you don’t think you’re going to use it frequently, you might as well not commit to a larger order.

Depending on if it contains more synthetic ingredients, shelf life is known to be longer-lasting.

Sealed witch hazel can last two to four years, especially if made in labs. Some users have admitted that adding alcohol to witch hazel can also delay expiration.

Typically, keeping the product out of direct sunlight and at room temperature is the recommended procedure if you use witch hazel in creams, ointments, or toners.

Can You Use Expired Witch Hazel?

Simply put, no.

Expired Witch Hazel can cause your skin to suffer even worse conditions as a result of using it. That is often because many of its useful traits and qualities, which were once an assistant to your body’s natural health, have now become a poison.

All in all, it’s simply better not to risk it.

If you find a bottle of Witch Hazel in your medicine cabinet that you haven’t used in a while, just look it over and see if there’s an expiration date. If it’s passed its expiration, just throw it out and get a new bottle from the store.

FAQs About Witch Hazel Expiration

Can expired witch hazel be harmful to the skin?

Using expired witch hazel could potentially irritate the skin or not deliver the expected benefits. It’s best to avoid using expired products on the skin.

Can I use witch hazel on sensitive skin?

Witch hazel is generally well-tolerated on sensitive skin, but it’s recommended to perform a patch test before applying it to a larger area.

Can I extend the shelf life of witch hazel?

Proper storage and handling can extend the shelf life of witch hazel. Ensure the bottle is tightly sealed and stored away from heat and sunlight.

Are there different types of witch hazel products?

Yes, witch hazel products can come in various formulations, including alcohol-free options and those blended with additional ingredients for specific purposes.

Can I use witch hazel as a makeup remover?

Witch hazel can be used to remove makeup, but it’s important to follow up with a gentle cleanser to thoroughly cleanse the skin.

Bottom Line

Preserved correctly, witch hazel can last between six months to a year after opening. Preserved incorrectly, it could have become defective after the first usage.

Use your best judgment before applying. Note any change in odor and keep track of the date of purchase and unsealing. Remember this and you will get the most out of this skin rejuvenating plant product.

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