Skin care products don’t last forever (makeup too, for that matter), and lotion is no exception. Most bottles come with a suggested “time after opening” date, usually depicted by a number followed by the letter M—this denotes the amount of months you can use a product before it’s likely time to part ways. For lotion, this number can range anywhere between 12 and 24 months. 

However, expiration dates can differ depending on the product, so be sure to check the label each time. For instance, lightweight hydrators tend to be water-based to achieve a thinner consistency—and as you may know, water creates a fertile breeding ground for bacteria. While most market products do include safe preservatives to make the formula shelf-stable, they still typically have a shorter lifespan. 

As for oil-based lotions (read: thick, buttery confections)? Those tend to last a bit longer, as there’s no water to make it vulnerable to bacteria. Of course, user behavior might introduce water into the formula (which we’ll get into later), so you’ll still want to be mindful of any signs of wear.  

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