Does Witch Hazel Expire? How Long Does Witch Hazel Last?

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Imagine this: You’re tidying up your bathroom cabinet and suddenly, you spot an old bottle of witch hazel tucked away in a corner.

You pause and wonder, “Does witch hazel expire?”

You’re not alone! This question has puzzled many.

The answer isn’t straightforward, mainly because witch hazel isn’t your ordinary skincare product. In this article, we’ll unravel the mystery of witch hazel’s shelf life, why there’s so much uncertainty about it, and finally put your doubts to rest. And read on for tips on how to identify if your witch hazel has expired.

So, let’s dive in!


Does Witch Hazel Expire? Unraveling the Spell on Shelf Life

Humphrey's Witch Hazel

Like all natural remedies, witch hazel does have an expiration date. Usually, a bottle of witch hazel can stay fresh for about two years. But here’s where things get a little tricky – not all witch hazel products are created equal!

Different brands of witch hazel may have different expiration dates. You might even stumble upon some brands that say their witch hazel never expires!

How’s that possible, you ask? Well, it all comes down to how the witch hazel in your bottle was made.

Witch hazel is prepared from the leaves, bark, or twigs of the witch hazel plant. This plant material is steam-distilled to produce the clear liquid that you find in your bottle. But, that’s not the end of the story. Often, other ingredients like alcohol or natural preservatives are added to the mix.

These added ingredients can change how long the witch hazel stays effective. So, depending on what’s mixed in with your witch hazel, different brands will have different expiration dates.

How Long Does Witch Hazel Last?

Generally, witch hazel has a lifespan of about two years. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule—it can vary depending on the ingredients used. Even brands that boast a ‘never expiring’ witch hazel recommend not using their product beyond two years.

But what about witch hazel produced in labs, you ask? Well, depending on the manufacturing methods and preservatives used, this variant can stay potent for up to five years!

The Impact of Alcohol on Witch Hazel’s Shelf Life

You might be wondering: what’s the role of alcohol in all of this? Well, alcohol can be a game-changer when it comes to the shelf life of witch hazel.

When added to witch hazel, alcohol acts as a preservative, helping to extend the product’s lifespan. This means witch hazel products with alcohol can typically last longer than their alcohol-free counterparts.

However, it’s worth noting that while alcohol may help your witch hazel last longer, it can also dry out your skin. So, if you’re using witch hazel for skincare, you might want to think twice before opting for a product with alcohol.

Does Witch Hazel Have An Expiration Date?

Quinn's Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel

Finding an expiration date on your witch hazel bottle can sometimes feel like going on a treasure hunt!

If you strike gold, you’ll spot the date either at the top of the bottle or near the Universal Product Code (UPC). It might even be hiding near the barcode at the bottom of the bottle.

However, don’t be surprised if you come up empty-handed. Many witch hazel products keep us guessing and don’t stamp an expiration date on the bottle at all!

How To Tell If Your Witch Hazel Has Gone Bad: Spotting the Signs

Thayers Alcohol-Free, Hydrating Rose Petal Witch Hazel Facial Toner with Aloe Vera Formula, Vegan, Dermatologist Tested and Recommended, 12 Oz

Stumbled upon an old bottle of witch hazel and not sure if it’s still good to use? Not to worry! There are two easy ways to tell if your witch hazel has outlived its glory days:

Inspect the Color

Pure witch hazel is as clear as water. But when it’s past its prime, it starts to look a bit under the weather, taking on a yellowish tint.

Trust Your Nose

Fresh witch hazel has a unique woody scent, a little like a mild root beer. If your witch hazel’s aroma has lost its charm or smells a bit ‘off,’ it’s time to bid it goodbye.

Why Using Expired Witch Hazel is a No-No


We get it – nobody likes to throw things away, especially if it means having to spend more money. However, using witch hazel past its expiry date is a risk you don’t want to take. Here’s why:

Loss of Healing Benefits

Witch hazel past its expiration date loses its healing magic. So, applying it on your skin or hair is like using a magic wand without any magic – it just won’t work!

Stronger Isn’t Always Better

As witch hazel ages, certain ingredients can get stronger. This means that the mild astringent you loved might turn into a skin-burning, rash-causing villain.

Beware of Bacteria

Despite its astringent properties, witch hazel isn’t antiseptic. So, an old bottle can become a party spot for bacteria. And the longer it’s open, the higher the risk of contamination.

Exacerbating Skin Conditions

Most people use witch hazel to soothe minor skin conditions. But expired witch hazel can make these conditions worse and even lead to infections.

How to Prevent Your Witch Hazel From Going Bad

Humphreys Clarify Witch Hazel Organic Toner, Clear, 8 Oz ( Pack of 1)

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, so don’t just leave it on the counter.

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.

Saying Goodbye: How to Dispose of Expired Witch Hazel

According to this Safety Data Sheet, you can safely pour expired witch hazel down the drain..

But hold on! Make sure you run some water simultaneously to dilute it in the pipes. If you have any concerns, it’s always a good idea to check with your local waste disposal authorities.

If you have Witch Hazel pads , don’t send them down the drain or into the plumbing system. The right way to dispose of them is the old-fashioned way: just toss them in the trash!

Final Thoughts: The Magic of Witch Hazel and Its Shelf Life

In conclusion, witch hazel, like any natural product, has a shelf life and it doesn’t last forever. Typically, you can expect it to stay potent for about two years, and possibly even longer depending on its ingredients.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your witch hazel, it’s crucial to check its color and smell regularly. If it’s taken on a yellowish hue or if the smell is a bit ‘off,’ then it’s time to part ways with your bottle.

It’s important to remember that using expired witch hazel is not just ineffective, but it can also be harmful. Hence, it’s always best to ensure your witch hazel is fresh and properly stored in a cool, shady spot, and always handle it with clean hands.

By following these guidelines, you can continue to enjoy the magic of fresh witch hazel.

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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).