Does Eye Cream Expire?

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If you’re like the average beauty aficionado, your bathroom, and makeup bag are probably laden with many different products. Your favorites you will use regularly or every day. This means some may have even been forgotten about altogether.

So, you may be wondering if that old eye cream you found at the bottom of your makeup stash is worth trying again. What is the possibility that your product will still be as effective if it’s not been used for a while?

Does Eye Cream Expire? The short answer is yes, it generally goes bad 6-12 months after opening. In this article, we’ll look at the signs your eye cream is junk and the details on eye cream shelf life.


Does Eye Cream Expire?

Natural Eye Cream

The simplest answer to this is, yes eye cream will expire.

Just like you wouldn’t think of drinking or eating dairy products (or any other food for that matter) that are well past their sell-by dates, paying attention to the expiration dates on your cosmetics and skincare should also be something to consider if you want healthier skin. And who doesn’t?

Due to the degradation of certain ingredients, eye creams can go bad, as well as become less effective.

As a general rule, skincare products include the expiration date on the packaging. Well… that’s the theory. In practice, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Generally, you’ll find a number next to an image of a round jar on the product. The number will say 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, or 36. This number indicates the months your eye cream or other product will last after opening.

However, even if your eye cream is within the expiry date, if you haven’t used it for a while or notice any change, like a weird smell, color or harsh separation, it’s best to throw it in the trash.

Most eye creams have a shelf life of six months to one year, so you have plenty of time to use it after opening.

If your eye cream contains more natural ingredients, however, then this timeframe will be much shorter.

If your eye cream has passed its expiration date, but it’s still sealed and hasn’t been opened, then there’s a chance you will be able to use it without a problem.

As long as it doesn’t give off a funky smell, the formula hasn’t separated, and the texture isn’t lumpy or runny, then it’s probably okay to use.

You also want to keep a lookout for any spots of mold or visible bacteria that may have formed. And finally, just because the bottle or jar may say it’s still safe, use your best judgment if something about it feels off.

Oxidation Station

Niacinamide Eye Cream

Many of the active ingredients found in eye creams also react with oxygen, heat and high moisture, similar to the way many foundations work. This chemical process makes them less effective and they can even become dangerous to use.

And as many of us keep our skincare, like eye creams, in the bathroom, which has the potential to get very steamy at times, this can shorten the shelf life.

The integrity of active ingredients is affected by oxidation, which makes them more susceptible to bacterial growth.

If you’ve ever seen a half-eaten apple turn brown in minutes, you’ve witnessed the oxidation process. It also happens to our cells as we age, which causes wrinkles to appear over time.

Oxidation changes the chemical composition of active ingredients like retinol, which is found in most eye creams on the market. Sneakily, if the retinol in your eye cream has oxidized, it won’t necessarily show up as you might expect with a rank look or smell.

And its anti-aging properties will have lost their potency.

Anything containing vitamin C should also be watched with an eagle eye. Eye creams with vitamin C can lose their potency very quickly if not kept in a dark, cool place.

If your eye cream is a serum or has oil as a main ingredient, this won’t be the case, since oil and water don’t mix.

Sensitive Skin

Night Eye Cream

If you have sensitive skin, using eye cream that has expired could cause more problems than it’s meant to help.

Besides the potential for bacteria growth, which can manifest as a rash or even worse, an allergic reaction, the breakdown of ingredients could become an issue for those of you who already have sensitive skin.

The breakdown of ingredients will cause the chemical consistency to alter, which could irritate your skin, especially if it’s already sensitive.

This is why manufacturers cover themselves by providing expiration dates.

Since products like eye cream are used on the most delicate area of your face, you should apply them as directed by the manufacturer.

Expired skincare has been known to cause irritation like itching, weeping, and rashes, which can spread into a further infection if you haven’t used it properly.

Prevention Tactics

Night Eye Cream

Keeping your eye cream safe, even before it has expired, also depends on how you apply it.

For instance, if you use a clean Q-tip to apply it to your eye, without double dipping the used tip, then your eye cream will last for longer and you’ll be able to use it past the expiration date.

You could also use a clean spatula to do this.

Although the method above will help to keep bacteria at bay, if your eye cream comes in a jar or tub, you may have to find a new tactic besides using your fingers.

If you have to use your fingers, then it would be wise not to use the eye cream when it expires. And make sure you wash your hands before application.

If your eye cream contains any active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, retinol or vitamin C, these compounds can become unstable if left open or exposed to heat and sunlight.

Therefore, it’s best to stay within the expiration date guidelines with these products.

You should also keep your eye cream’s container out of direct sunlight, especially if it’s made from glass.

Splashing out on products that come in pump form instead of small jars will mean they’ll last a bit longer.

Final Tip

Although it’s never fun wasting money on eye creams or other products that have expired or you’ve rarely used them after purchase, if you take the risk and use them anyway, be on the lookout for any swelling, rashes or allergic reactions that may develop.

If the next eye cream you’re after is manufactured by a branded makeup company, when you next go to the mall, visit the counter or a skincare boutique and ask for samples of the product to try first.

You can even ask for samples from online retailers.

Then you can decide to opt for a full-sized eye cream, and use the tips above to prevent any degradation to your product so that you never again have to worry about your eye cream expiring.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).