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Do skincare products have an expiry date?

18.05.2022 | Skincare

When we adjust and update our skincare routine regularly, it can mean some products get pushed to the back of the shelf. Whilst most products can last a number of years unopened, skincare products do also have a recommended use by date.

Over time, the ingredients in our products can break down and the chemical formulation changes  which can either deem it ineffective or potentially harmful to the skin, particularly if there’s sensitivity. Old products can also form an ecosystem of bacteria from when they are opened which is not good for our skin.


Production date: This is how long the product is expected to last in its entirety if not used. The INKEY List range generally has an unopened expiry date of 36 months but we advise to use within 6 months when opened. NOTE this may vary between different products depending on their active ingredient/formulation.

TIP: Avoid overloading your routine  and refrain from restocking/bulk buying products too far in advance. 

Opening date: When you open or first use a product it sets a countdown for when it should be used by. If a product has been opened, this reduces its lifespan significantly as oxidation can occur and bacteria can form. 

TIP: Only open your new product if you intend to use it right away to avoid oxidation and bacteria build up. 

Storage: Temperature and moisture can affect the composition of many formulas and speed up their expiration. 

TIP: Keeping products stored at their recommended temperature (generally in a cool, dark, dry place) and out of direct sunlight can help maximise their lifespan. 

Formula: Water-based products have a shorter lifespan due to the chemical reaction and bacterial formation triggered when exposed to air. Preservative-free skincare can also incur heightened bacteria growth. 

TIP: Don’t add water to products as this can cause unnecessary bacteria within the product container. If application requires water, e.g cleanser, mix externally in the palm of clean hands and apply. 

Bacteria: Bacteria can start to form in products as soon as they are opened. This can be amplified through touch and the bacteria on our finger tips.

TIP: Wash hands before applying products or use a cotton pad or applicator for a hands-free approach.


If you’ve lost track of dates, there are other signs your product may have passed its best. 

  • Smell, consistency and look are good indicators to follow.  If the product looks significantly different to its usual or specified state, it may not be suitable to use.
  • If the packaging has been damaged or looks warped then this can signify what’s inside is not all good. Similarly, if the product has been left or stored in an unstable environment or fluctuating temperatures e.g., a hot car, this may affect the product inside. 
  • If you experience any irritation, redness or reaction after using the product then this could be an out of date factor especially if it was previously ok to use. We recommend stop using the product immediately if you experience any kind of reaction. 

If you want to find out the expiry date of your The INKEY List product, we can identify using the batch code on the bottom of the cardboard box packaging. Drop us a message at askINKEY.

Photo of Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Our askINKEY team are available on our live chat. A friendly bunch, all experts with deep product knowledge, ready to make skincare as simple as possible. Whether you are an ingredient expert or starting your journey, no question is too big or too small, no judgement or jargon, we’re here to help and be part of your journey.