Skip to content

What Happens if You Use Expired Acne Cream

What Happens if You Use Expired Acne Cream

If you are an avid buyer of cosmetic products, then you must be aware that each tub you buy from your favorite supermarket or pharmacy typically has an expiry date stamped on it. You see, just like the stash of ice cream and other guilty pleasures in your freezer, skin care products tend to go bad too. But speaking of skincare products, clogged pores remains one of the most common hard-to-treat problems that anyone with naturally oily skin has to endure. As a short detour to the main gist of this article, here are a few facts about clogged pores that you may want to have up your sleeve.

  • Frequent application of comedogenic makeup can clog your pores and precipitate a nasty breakout episode
  • Unprotected exposure to sunlight does NOT clear clogged pores, in fact basking in direct sunlight only worsens the problem
  • Overwashing your face is not a proven remedy for clearing clogged pores

That being said, let's get back to the main subject of this write-up; what happens if you use expired acne cream?

What Happens if You Use Expired Acne Cream

Here's the thing; there's a reason a manufacturer is obligated to define the exact (or at least approximate) shelf life of any skincare product they are selling. The shelf life, in this case, refers to the period in which the product in question is deemed effective and safe for use. One of the main reasons for this is that the active ingredients that are typically used for the formulation of acne care products tend to break down and disintegrate with the passage of time. This not only renders them ineffective but also seriously predisposes your skin to additional skin issues.

To make it clear, here are some of the things that you can expect if you use expired acne cream on your skin.

  • Underwhelming results: At the very least, an expired cream won't work as well as the manufacturer intended it to, in the first place. The reason is that a given formulation (no matter how potent) can only remain effective for so long.
  • Rashes and a worsened breakout: The chemical composition of an expired acne cream is nowhere near one that is not yet past in 'sell-by date’. As such, there's no telling what applying such a product can do to your skin, let alone the potential allergic reaction that you may have to the altered chemical composition of the expired product.

As you can see, nothing good can come from using expired acne cream. Besides, most acne creams have an off-putting odor as soon as they go bad which makes application a tedious chore by itself.

Why Does Acne Cream Expire?

At this juncture, you may be wondering; why does acne cream expire? Why it is so hard to come across an acne remedy that can last for years or decades? And why do I have to throw away expired acne cream? Well, one of the main reasons is that some of the most effective acne-busters in the market utilize ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to minimize the conspicuousness of cysts and pimples and kickstart a healing process. In case you didn't know, both of these ingredients decay relatively fast after which they become technically useless. This, of course, is one of the factors that contribute to the fact that most acne salves have an expiration date of less than a year.

Secondly, other acne creams such as AENO's Natural Face Cream for Acne largely employ a completely natural formulation to tackle the problem of pimples and rashes. That means there are literally zero artificial additives in such a cream that would conventionally be added to extend the longevity of the cream. In other words, in a bid to preserve the organic and 'chemical-free' nature of the formulation, the manufacturer has to trade 'supposed longevity' for effectiveness, sustainability, and overall safety.


How To Know its Time to Dispose Off Your Skincare Products

Here's a general guide that you can use to know that its time to toss the skincare products on your dressing table and replace them with fresh ones.

  • Moisturizers: Moisturizing creams will rarely last for more than an year, mostly because by then the anti-aging ingredients in it with have long lost their effectiveness.
  • Cleansers: While cleansers can last more than an year (thanks to the long shelf life of alpha hydroxy acids and retinol), it's advisable to get rid of them after 12 months of storate.
  • Sunscreens: Surprisingly, sunscreens have a relatively longer shelf life (upto 2 years) as long as they remain unopened. Be sure to discard them after not an year of opening them or immediately they are past their sell-by date.
  • Acne products: The most effective acne products will hardly remain effective after 6 months of being opened since the pimple-fighters that they employ i.e salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide decompose rapidly when exposed to air.
  • Natural products: The absence of preservative in naturally-formulated products means that you have to be extra vigilant when using them. Pay attention to notable changes in the odor, texture, color or composition of your cosmetics and make a point of disposing them as you notice something is off.

In Closing

Stay away from expired acne creams. What's more, store any acne cream under the optimum conditions recommended by the manufacturer to keep it from going bad prematurely before its sell-by date.


  • Can you use expired acne medication?

    No, under no circumstances should you use expired acne medication on your face. Instead, replace it with a new one, or even better, try one that uses a different approach to what you are currently using.

  • When should you throw away skincare products?

    You should throw away your skin care products as soon as they are past their sell-by dates. Otherwise, you should dispose of acne home remedies as soon as you notice they have a different odor, texture, or composition, which usually means that they are no longer as effective or even safe to use.

  • Is it OK to use expired benzoyl peroxide?

    You should not use expired benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide has a tendency of decaying rather quickly (after less than 6 months) after which it becomes ineffective and could even potentially worsen your breakout.

Previous article Can Hair Cause Acne?
Next article Using Hand Sanitizer on Pimples - Is It Even Advisable?

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields