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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Eva Simmons-O’Brien

Dr. Eva Simmons O’Brien received her MD from Yale University and is a board-certified dermatologist. With over 30 years of experience, she has worked for hospitals, established her own private practice, and consulted for organizations such as the FDA. Today, Dr. Eva runs her own practice in addition to serving as our Chief Science Officer.

Can Skincare Expire?

Can Skincare Expire?

Can Skincare Expire?



As much as you may love your Disco products, they sadly have a shelf life. Don’t fret – there’s plenty more where they come from. Skincare products do expire after a certain period of time, and you should be cognizant of the shelflife of your products. 

Here are the factors to consider when buying and replacing your favorite products.

What Do Expiration Dates Mean?

The purpose of skincare expiration dates is to reflect the time in which the products are likely to have lost their potency and effectiveness. 

Without getting the entire Table of Elements out on you, let’s break down how skincare works.  Each ingredient in a skincare product has an “active” period. When an ingredient is active, it means it will remain effective and actually do the work intended for your skin for a specific time span. After said time, the chemical will break down and lose its initial chemical structure, thus deeming it ineffective or less effective than its active period. Some of these ingredients that have specific active periods include retinoids, Niacinamide, Vitamin C, and most all-natural ingredients.

You probably know that we are big fans of all-natural ingredients here at Disco. They’re safe on your skin, effective, and easy on the environment. However, all-natural products are more prone to expiring sooner. Sourcing all-natural ingredients mean that these ingredients have a shorter active period. 

Fortunately, there is an easy way to identify the expiration date of your skincare product. Every product is mandated to have a symbol on its packaging informing its shelf life. The symbol looks like a small jar, typically with a number next to an “M” inside the jar illustration. This indicates the recommended number of months to use your product within. 

When to Replace an Expired Skincare Product

In some cases, it is still safe and effective to use products past their expiration date. They may not work quite as effectively, but they are still completely safe and gentle to use on the skin. 

Generally, it is advisable to respect the expiration date and replace your skincare products once the period has commenced. Ingredients can break down over time. When these formulas lose their initial chemical structure and thus skin benefits, the product can potentially trigger sensitive skin reactions. In worse cases, using skincare products long past their expiration date may cause irritation, inflammation, and rash due to bacterial growth in the product or a transformed chemical structure.

Factors that can affect skincare product longevity include time, temperature, humidity, and physical stress (such as dipping a finger repeatedly into a product). Water-based products are more prone to expiring and causing damage, due to an increased chance of bacterial growth. 

The product to be most wary of using after the expiration date is sunscreens. These products in particular will lose the ability to block damaging UV ray exposure from the skin, and you don’t want to risk an unexpected sunburn after applying your sunblock! 

Final Thoughts

Here at Disco, we put the extra TLC into our product formulations alongside Ivy-League dermatologists and a team of cosmetic experts. Skincare nourishes the biggest organ of our bodies, and you want to rest assured that what you’re putting on your skin is safe and doing the right work! 

All-natural, cruelty-free, and organic ingredients will do the most for your skin and ensure that future-you stays confident and looking young. Our subscription program ensures that you will never go without an everyday product, and ensures that we do the work for you in terms of making sure your expired products are safely replaced. We got your back, gents.

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