Does Self-Tanner Expire? What Happens If You Use An Expired Self-Tanner?

Self-tanners have recently found their way into the cosmetics racks of young women who prefer glowing and striking brown skin.

Yet, does self-tanner expire? This query remains the riddle when the bottle has settled on your rack for quite some time. As the product’s condition will greatly determine its effectiveness, you’d better check for signs of self-tanners going bad beforehand.
Please refer to the article below to equip yourself with more useful information to have satisfactory skin.
Healthy brown skin is what girls are pursuing these days 
Healthy brown skin is what girls are pursuing these days

Does Self-Tanner Expire?

Does self-tanner go out of date? The answer is Yes. Similar to other cosmetics, self-tanner also has an expiration date.
Most of the tanning products available today contain ingredients and chemicals that will gradually expire after a period of use. As a result, the products lose their efficacy.
More specifically, DHA (dihydroxyacetone) – the main ingredient found in most self-tanners – is past its prime overtime and can’t generate melanoidins after reacting to amino acids on your skin. The fewer melanoidins, the lighter your skin.
To be specific, as the liquid content in self-tanners evaporates, the DHA turns denser. Thus, the color might be altered and can’t deliver the same quality as in the first place. This condensed DHA content is what to blame for poor-quality tanning.
Preservatives are also heavily used to maintain the lifespan of these products. Yet, when these substances deteriorate, the other ingredients in the product will also be out of date as a result.
The ingredient profile of different brands might vary, hence the different expiration dates

How Long Do Self-Tanners Last?

Some self-tanning products have an expiration date on the packaging. However, some of them don’t.

Even though these products don’t have a printed expiry date, they will surely go out of date. The question is, when does self-tanner expire?
As mentioned above, fake tan products have a shelf life of 12 months once opened. Meanwhile, jar-packed self-tanners are good to go for 6-9 months. When coming in a pump container, the product’s useful life is 12 months on average, given that it is tightly sealed with minimum air exposure.
So, how long does an unopened self-tanner last?
In fact, for most cosmetics, the shelf life will be within a year of opening instead of when you bought it. As long as you have not opened the product, its expiry date has not been counted, as the product has not been exposed to air yet.
Or, to be sure, you can read the expiration date on the packaging carefully or ask a sales consultant when you buy it.
What’s more? Whether the product expires quickly or slowly will depend on other factors, namely its packaging and format.


Mousse products are usually packaged in sealed containers with pumps. Such packaging design will minimize the product’s exposure to air; in turn, its shelf life will be longer.

Self-tanners formulated as mousse have a longer shelf life when compared to different types
Self-tanners formulated as mousse have a longer shelf life when compared to different types


Lotion products will expire sooner since they have to be exposed to a lot of air every time they are opened.
While the mousse form is exposed to air only when you pump, you have to keep the lotion bottle open all the time until you finish applying the product.


Towelettes usually go out of date one year after opening the product. Yet, you can keep it longer if you rarely open it. In contrast, the towelettes will dry before 12 months if frequently exposed to air.

What Happens If You Use An Expired Self-Tanner?

Self-tanners do not contain harmful ingredients. Hence, they don’t cause any detrimental effects on your skin even after the expiry.
That said, you should throw those products away if they’ve gone bad, as the expiration date is given for a reason.
If you try to use it, you may get unexpected results. Specifically, expired fake tan products will have a poorer consistency, making your skin look patchy after applying the cream.
More importantly, some products will have ingredients that degrade at different periods, resulting in chemical composition changes. Such alterations may cause some minor reaction or skin rash if you have sensitive skin.
In such a case, immediately wash off the lotion from your skin and use prompt treatments for irritation.
Also, use a patch test to check a product’s life whenever you suspect it’s expired to ensure the safety of your skin.

Be careful when applying the expired tanning products to your skin 
Be careful when applying the expired tanning products to your skin

How To Know If The Self-Tanner Is Expired?

Some self-tanners will have a specific use-by date, yet some will not. Therefore, you need to remember the date you open the product to approximate its expiration date. 
In case you forget to mark the time, here are some simple methods to tell whether the self-tanner is expired.

The Color

Color testing is the simplest way to know if a product is still usable. Check if the shade becomes darker or lighter than the original color when first purchased.
When self-tanners are green, they have nothing to do with your skin. Exposure to heat and air has degraded the DHA, causing such a color change.

The Consistency

Over time, the oil layer and other ingredients gradually separate, changing the consistency of the product.

You can easily notice that it will be more lumpy or watery when applying the fake tanning to the skin than at first.
That said, this is not an all-rounded sign that you can completely count on. In some cases, the separation is temporary, and you can bring it back to normal by shaking hard.

The Sniff Test

This test may seem more difficult than other methods, as DHA products have an unpleasant smell. 
Yet, if you can pay close attention to the product’s scent that has changed, it is likely that the tanner is expired.

You can smell the odor when your tanning lotions go out of date 
You can smell the odor when your tanning lotions go out of date

The Patch Test

You can test a product’s condition by applying it to a small skin area to see whether it still gives the color and texture you expect on your skin.
In case the lotions give you an uneven skin tone, throw them away.

How To Best Preserve Your Self-Tanner?

You can refer to the ways below to maintain their shelf life.

  • Store at a cool temperature. Keep in mind this factor if you live in a hot and humid climate.
  • Close the lid tightly after each use to prevent bacteria from entering and limit the product’s exposure to the air, as this can accelerate its degradation.
  • Avoid contact with liquids; some tanning products contain alcohol that will react with the substances.
  • Don’t expose the fake tan containers to direct sunlight.
Keeping self-tanners in good condition will give you the best results when applying
Keeping self-tanners in good condition will give you the best results when applying


How Long Does Fake Tan Last Before It Expires? 

The effects of self-tanner can last from 1 week to 10 days, depending on how dark the shade you desire is. In more detail, lighter shades can last for 5 days, medium ones for about 7-8 days, and darker ones for about 10 days.

Hands, face, and feet sometimes need to be reapplied every 3-4 days. The best way to maintain the expected result is to apply moisturizer daily after tanning.
Before tanning, you should exfoliate to ensure the smoothest skin, helping the cream penetrate quickly into your skin.
How long the fake tan layer stays on your skin depends on what skin shade you want 
How long the fake tan layer stays on your skin depends on what skin shade you want

How Do I Read The Expiration Date On Tanning Lotion?

You can easily spot the use-by date of the tanning right on the back of the container.
Or, find this information on the product packaging with the open box symbol and the month of use abbreviated “M,” which stands for “Month.” For example, 12M means you can use the product for 12 months once it is opened.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Some Popular Self-Tanners?

Here are some use-by dates of today’s popular brands for your reference.

  • Does St. Tropez self-tanner expire? Of course, yes. Manufacturer St. Tropez recommends that users use its products within 12 months from the opening to achieve the most satisfactory results.
  • Does Minetan self-tanner expire? Minetan’s best-by date is one year after opening the product. Most self-tanner products will have a similar shelf life, calculated from the first time you open the product’s lid and expose it to air.
  • Does Bondi Sands expire? Yes, it does. One downside of this brand is that you can hardly find its expiration date printed on the packaging. In general, Bondi Sands last one year once opened (for the best potency).
  • Does the Isle of Paradise expire? The Isle Of Paradise is suggested to be used within ten months after opening, a shorter shelf life when compared to other brands. This limit is because the company has employed a lot of organic and vegan ingredients in the product. Fortunately, you can extend its life by keeping it between 50°-60°F in your cosmetics fridge.
  • Does the Tanologist expire? Similar to the above brands, Tanologist expiration date is within 12 months from when the product is exposed to air.
  • Does Loving Tan expire? This product has a useful life of approximately 6-12 months when opened. Surprisingly, it can last up to 18 months if stored in cool conditions and away from direct sunlight.


Does self-tanner expire? Yes, it does.
Similar to lotions, tanning creams can be stored for one year once opened if they are in a sealed bottle or squeeze tube. In case the product is in a jar, you should replace it after 6-9 months.
We hope that the above useful information will help you choose the right product and know-how to preserve it best. Thanks for reading!


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