Does Self-Tanner Go Out Of Date? How to Tell If Self-Tanner Is Expired?

Are there self-tanners that actually work? But wait, do self-tanners really work as a safe alternative to sun-tanning. Sunless tanning, there’s just no denying, does indeed produce that perfect, covetable sun-kissed bronzed look. Plus, you don’t even have to expose your skin to harsh UV rays for your beautiful tan to develop.

Now that we’ve covered effectiveness, how about we talk about longevity – does self-tanner go out of date? Meaning do self-tanners expire? Time to figure that out!

Self-Tanners and How Long Can You Use Them For

Every cosmetic product comes with an expiration date, and self-tanners are no exception. THEY DO GO OUT OF DATE. Why that is – it’s because these formulas are made using chemicals and ingredients that eventually expire (i.e. lose their potency). This means that after a certain length of time, your self-tanner will no more work as it did at once.

In most scenarios, a self-tanner has a 1-year shelf life. So you can use the product for a whole year after you open it. Generally speaking, with cosmetics, the expiration date comes a year after you open the product, and not when you buy it. The same works with self-tanning solutions.

But then if the self-tanner hasn’t expired, why does it smell so bad? Well, the ugly truth here is that these self-tanning formulations are equipped with DHA (dihydroxyacetone). It’s a carbohydrate, mostly found in self-tanners, that darkens your skin temporarily. And this is how the tan builds up.

DHA activates skin browning, and this very reaction of DHA with the skin is where the unpleasant odor comes from. Also, DHA, like many other ingredients in the tanner lotion, can expire. DHA expiring means it loses the very pigments that give rise to the bronzed effect. Hence, a lighter tan if the product has been stored for longer after opening.

And then we move on to preservatives whose main job it is to ‘preserve’ the shelf-life of the formula. But even these are bound to wear out eventually. If love itself cannot and doesn’t last forever, how can you expect anything different from self-tanners!

So think twice before you go tanner-crazy and buy in bulk, no matter how much of a tanning enthusiast you are! Or no matter how cheap or affordable the tanning product is! You do have a whole year to finish the tanning lotion agreed but then you may not tan all that much either.

Even if it’s a fake-tan solution, it does have an expiration date, much like all other beauty products out there. Although there’s no FDA-approved or any such law that compels beauty brands to establish an expiration date. Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that these cosmetic products are eternal. They ‘will’ and ‘do’ expire, it’s only a matter of time!

But how long before the expiration date commences? Around 12 months after you open the bottle/tube/container of the product.

Expiration of Different Types of Self-Tanners

  • Tanning Lotion

Once opened, tanning lotions tend to expire faster because of the higher exposure to air.

  • Tanning Mousse

These types of tanners come in containers with a proper seal (and pump as dispenser). This means exposure to air is minimal, hence more unlikely to expire sooner.

  • Tanning Towelette

Self-tanning towelettes, super-convenient to use no doubt, expire a year after you open the packaging. When exposed to air, towelettes are certainly prone to drying out well before 12 months. But when left unopened, expect them to last longer than even a year!

What Happens If You Use Expired Self-Tanner?

Your fake tanner is past its expiration date but you still have some left, so is it okay to still use the product on your skin? The best way to answer that is to state the fact that there’s a reason why that expiration date has been printed in the first place.

But then the good news here is that a self-tanning formula is no food item. Meaning if it’s expired, there’s no serious harm done in case you happen or decide to use the product. In most cases, it doesn’t even cause any reaction if that’s what you’re worried about.

Naturally, the ingredients present in every self-tanner differ from one brand to another. Nevertheless, always choose a safe, high-quality, non-toxic product, be it self-tanner for fair skin or tanning lotion for men. When the quality of the ingredients is high and reliable, you don’t have to worry about the ingredients causing skin damage even after they’ve expired.

But whatever the case may be, if you’re a bit skeptical about your self-tanner being out of date, why not do a small patch test first! This way, you can judge if the product is safe to use or not. Better a small area of your skin reacts unfavorably to an expired cosmetic product than your whole body!

How to Tell If Self-Tanner Is Expired?

#1 The Consistency Is Off

When a self-tanner expires, its consistency often changes too. The texture might become too lumpy, thicker, or watery than usual. And the oils added to it could also separate.

But then you can easily shake the bottle or tube to mix all the ingredients and use the product, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily expired, right? Well, that’s a good point, unless…

#2 The Color Has Turned Green

A simple visual test of the tanner is enough to tell if it has expired or not.

When the colorants that combine with DHA weaken or degrade as a result of exposure to heat or air, the product turns green.

#3 The Smell Is Too Bad

Self-tanners as it is, because of the inclusion of DHA, have quite an unpleasant odor. So this particular factor does seem a little tricky. Regardless, if the tanning lotion, mousse, or towelette is giving off a very foul or unusual smell, it’s best then to do a patch test before dismissing the product as expired.

#4 The Patch Test Fails

Apply a small amount of self-tanner on just a patch of skin only to check if the formula is still in working condition or not. And if that small area of your skin tans, your fake-tan provider has not yet expired.


How Long Does Self-Tanner Last?

The expiration date in most cases is printed at the back of the packaging of the product. Typically, a self-tanner lasts for about a year after you open the bottle/tube/container.

But then shelf life varies based on what brand it is, what type of self-tanning solution you’re using, and what ingredients are added. For example, tanning lotions expire more quickly than mousse and towelettes because of the higher exposure to air, heat, etc.

Is It Safe to Use Expired Self-Tanner?

Self-tanners DO NOT contain any toxic ingredients, which means that even if the product expires, it isn’t going to cause damage or harm. Even so, avoid using expired cosmetics since there’s a reason why manufacturers add that expiration date.

Very minor irritation or reaction on the skin may occur sometimes if the self-tanning formula has expired. So in case this happens, you can just wash it off your skin immediately and throw away the bottle.

As for the rash, worry not as that’s most likely to disappear soon enough.

Now You Know All About How, Why, When Self-Tanners Expire!

What we know is that self-tanners and tanning lotions do eventually expire (because nothing lasts forever!). The shelf life is around 12 months from the time you open the bottle. Nevertheless, a product like self-tanner is not formulated using any toxic ingredients, so the chances of it damaging your skin even after the expiration date are super, super low.

But my expert advice to you would be to keep your skin away from expired cosmetics in general. Just to be sure though, so you don’t waste a perfectly good product for nothing, do a texture, smell, and color check or you could just perform a patch test too.

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