While rummaging through the back of the bathroom cabinet, you may have come across a bottle of witch hazel. And are probably wondering – Does witch hazel expire?
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to witch hazel and when, or if, it expires.
In this article, we are going to look at why it’s so hard to find a straight answer about how long witch hazel lasts before it expires.
We’re also going to tell you how to detect the signs that your witch hazel has gone bad and why using it past the expiration date is a really bad idea. We’ll give you a few tips to ensure the maximum shelf life of your witch hazel.
Does Witch Hazel Expire?
At the end of the day, every all-natural product expires. Witch Hazel is no exception. Generally you can bank on about 2 years until it’s time to get a new bottle.
Now where all the confusion comes from is that different manufacturers of witch hazel have different expiry dates.
There are even those who claim that their witch hazel has no expiry.
Witch hazel that you buy in the bottle is prepared from a steam-distillation process using leaves, bark, or twigs of the witch hazel plant shown above.
But Witch Hazel often includes other ingredients as well, like alcohol or other natural preservatives.
These other ingredients can affect how long the product can stay effective over time. So what this all means is that different brands will have different expiry dates, depending on their ingredients.
How Long Does Witch Hazel Last?
As a general rule, the expiration of witch hazel is about 2 years. Again it depends on the ingredients. But even the manufacturer of the witch hazel product that claims to never expire, recommends not using it longer than 2 years.
Witch hazel that was produced in a lab, using different manufacturing methods and preservatives, can last up to 5 years.
Does Witch Hazel Have An Expiration Date?
If you’re lucky, your bottle of Witch Hazel will be stamped with an expiration date at the top of the bottle, or near the Universal Product Code (UPC).
It may also be near the barcode at the bottom of the bottle.
But there are many witch hazel products that do not have an expiration date.
How To Tell If Your Witch Hazel Has Gone Bad
You’ve found a bottle in the back of your cabinet. You have no idea how long it’s been there or if it’s still good. There are two main indicators that your witch hazel has gone bad:
In its pure liquid form, witch hazel is clear. Once expired, it tends to take on a yellowish tint.
Witch hazel has a woody scent that smells a bit like a mild root beer. If it doesn’t smell like that or smells ‘off’, it’s time to get rid of it.
What Happens If I Use Witch Hazel Past Its Expiry Date?
Though most of us hate the idea of wasting things, not to mention going out and spending more money, using witch hazel past its expiry date is a very bad idea for several reasons.
Once witch hazel is past its expiry date, it loses the healing benefits you were using it for in the first place. There’s really no sense in using a product on your skin or hair that does not work!
Also over time, certain ingredients in witch hazel can become stronger. So the mild astringent you were using to clear your skin may end up burning your skin or causing breakouts and rashes.
Although witch hazel is astringent, it is not antiseptic. This means that it can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
The longer you have it once it’s open, the more of a chance it has of being contaminated.
Because witch hazel is primarily used for treating minor skin conditions, using expired witch hazel can just exacerbate those skin conditions and lead to infection.
How to Prevent Your Witch Hazel From Going Bad
Now, regardless of whether you follow the tips below, you should still replace your witch hazel about every 2 years.
These tips are just to ensure you get the maximum shelf life from your product and that it doesn’t go bad before it’s time.
Store at room temperature out of direct heat and sunlight
Exposure to direct heat and sunlight can cause your witch hazel to go bad more quickly.
Buy in small quantities
If you only use it once in a while, there’s no sense in buying a bulk order that will go bad before you get to use it all.
Wash your hands
Always ensure that you handle your bottle with clean hands to not contaminate your product. Bacterial contamination can break down the product causing it to go bad more quickly.
Use a bowl
When using the witch hazel, pour a small amount into a small bowl and dip a cotton pad into the bowl. Discard any remaining product in the bowl.
Do not pour it back into the bottle and do not touch the cotton you are using to the bottle. This will introduce bacteria and contaminate your product.
Disposal of Witch Hazel
According to this Safety Data Sheet, you should be ok to send your expired Witch Hazel down the drain. Run water down the drain while you’re pouring it out in order to dilute it in the pipes. If you’re concerned, you may need to check your local authorities for further regulations.
When it comes to getting rid of Witch Hazel pads , you should just throw them out. You should not put the pads down the drain or into the plumbing system.