how to tell if lip balm is expired

You may already know that some of your favorite beauty products have a shelf life, but how to tell if lip balm is expired?

Lip balm is a multibillion-dollar industry. People like to keep those little tubes in their purses, desk drawers, briefcases, and bathrooms to moisturize their dry lips on the go.

So often, we use these balms almost mindlessly, without giving a second thought to, “Can lip balm expire?” If it does, how can it hurt me?

Most cosmetics have a set expiration date, but lip balm is more elusive. So, how do you tell if your lip balm is ineffective?

You can tell your lip balm is expired by looking at the expiry date mentioned on it, or it’s probably gone bad if it has a chunky consistency.

Tip: Avoid licking your lips right before using your balm in that it locks in saliva, resulting in skin breakdown. 

Do Lip Balms Go Bad and How to Tell If Lip Balm is Expired?

does lip balms go bad

Just like any beauty product, lip balms do expire. But, exactly when they eventually go bad depends on the type of balm you use as well as its major ingredients.

Most top lip balm brands, including Burt’s Bees and ChapStick, recommend disposing of their products a year after you first use them.

You can also find an expiry date on the label, or sometimes on the closed end of the tube. Use it for your reference to avoid using expired lip balms. 

How to Tell Your Lip Balm is No Longer Usable?

Your lip balm becomes a place for bacteria to grow as soon as you open it for the first time and expose it to the air.

You don’t really have to worry much about it initially, but that’s one of the reasons lip balms go bad eventually. 

Remember, it’s probably spoiled if it has an unpleasant odor or a grainy texture.

And if it’s older than a year, it’s probably best to toss it out of an abundance of caution. 

Consider the Ingredients

consider ingredients

Whether your lip balm will go bad and when depends heavily on its ingredients.

Unfortunately, the ingredients in your lip balm break down with time, rendering the formula completely ineffective.

Cosmetics contain preservatives to keep the formula from breaking down over time and extend the product’s shelf life.

When these preservatives degrade, the other ingredients in the product will also deteriorate, causing the product to go bad.

It means that even if it causes no harm to use an older lip balm, it won’t offer any benefits either. 

How to Determine the Expiration Date of Lip Balm?

Checking the package is the most direct and simple approach to finding out when your lip balm will expire.

Typically, a tiny cosmetics-themed icon depicting a jar or tube with a number inside it will be available on your lip balm.

Once opened, it has a useful life of about the number of months indicated within.

If the number says “24”, it means the product may be usable up to 24 months after first use. 

How Long Do Lip Balms Typically Last?

how long lip balms will last

It varies greatly from product to product and usually comes down to its ingredients.

Most lip balms contain titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and a combination of other mineral UV blockers.

Over time, these protectants break down and lose efficacy, usually after one year.

It means that if you use a balm with UV protection, you should stop using it after a year. 

What to Consider?

While a lip balm may last longer, you’ll be better off throwing it away in certain situations.

Suppose you develop a cold sore and continue to use your lip balm. Those bacteria may transfer to the stick and begin to grow.

Eventually, they contaminate the whole tube.

If you continue using that contaminated lip balm even after your cold sore goes away, you’ll risk developing another one.

Therefore, it makes more sense to simply toss it out even if it’s well under its expiration date. 

What Happens If You Use Expired Lip Balm?

happen when use expired lipbalms

Okay, so you can notice a difference in its consistency and believe your treasured lip balm is no longer usable.

But, what if you still want to use it because you know you barely used it through all those months?

So, can you still use it?

Practically, you can use it even if it’s beyond its expiration date but it still looks good, as in there’s no change in consistency.

In most cases, using an expired lip balm is quite safe. And you probably won’t even be able to tell that it’s gone out of date.

You might notice something is different about the balm, but you’re less likely to experience any reaction.

But, does that mean you should continue using an expired lip balm without considering replacing it?

Of course, not. Using an expired product is never advised. 

There’s always a risk of developing an allergic reaction, which is certainly not worth it, especially when buying a balm won’t cost a pretty penny.

Also, an expired balm loses its efficacy, which means you may end up dealing with dry, chapped lips even after religiously using your lip balm.

Tip: Limit the use of any hydrating balm to 2-4 times a day to get the best results and avoid developing a habit. 

Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Lip Balms?

extend shelf life of lip balm

You can’t do much about it, but certain things may still help keep it effective for as long as the date mentioned on the balm.

For instance, you should store your lip balm in a cool, dry place. Ensure that it’s away from any sunlight.

And never leave it exposed to extreme temperatures or it will go bad quickly.

It may also be a good idea to disinfect your lip products once in a while. You can do it by simply dipping them in alcohol.

Doing so will make them work better for longer. Here’s what to do to disinfect your lip balm:

  • Remove the lip balm’s top coating with a tissue
  • Twist the tube open
  • Take a bowl of isopropyl alcohol
  • Soak the balm in it for 30 seconds 

Buy the Right Balm

To ensure it stays effective for a long, opt for a lip balm that uses natural ingredients.

Choose a natural lip balm with minimal ingredients and no additional fragrances to ensure the best performance and safety.

While they add to the experience, lip balms with added fragrances tend to go bad faster.

Especially compared to those with fewer ingredients since the fragrances break down more quickly.

Tip: Don't go overboard with the idea of using lip balm all the time or you'll have overly dried lips when you can't find a lip balm. 

Natural Alternatives to Try In Place of an Expired Lip Balm

the natural alternative of lip balms

You know your lip balm has expired but you badly need something for your dry, chapped lips.

Well, don’t worry! You can always try some interesting and effective DIY lip balms.

DIY lip balms usually use natural, unprocessed ingredients, which are great for chapped lips.

Also, you can make these recipes completely safe for your lips by using high-quality natural ingredients and avoiding mineral oil in any form. 

Honey Balm

Honey is the best natural lip balm because it keeps your lips moist and fights germs. You’ll feel like your lips stay moisturized for a long time. 

How to Make It?

  • Take some Vaseline or glycerin.
  • Add a few drops of honey to it.
  • Apply it directly to your lips as often as you like. 

Coconut Balm

Coconut is another useful ingredient for making homemade lip balm. It’s naturally moisturizing, so it will help keep your lips soft and supple.

Also, using this simple lip balm can help your lips keep looking young for a long time.

How to Make It?

how make honey balm
  • Take equal quantities of petroleum jelly and coconut oil.
  • Mix them together and transfer them to an airtight container.
  • Leave in your freezer for about half an hour.
  • Use it as needed.
Tip: Be sure to apply the balm after you take a shower or right before you head out on a winter morning. 


Some people just can’t live without their lip balm, but they often use it mindlessly without knowing it’s gone bad and therefore, it’s vital to learn how to tell if lip balm is expired. 

Of course, there’s an expiration date to consider, but the balm’s texture also says a lot.

So, be careful when using an old lip balm, or simply turn to DIY lip balms made using natural ingredients for better results.

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