Are you someone who loves using self-tanners but is unsure about whether they expire or not? It’s a common question that many people have. Self-tanners are a great way to achieve a sun-kissed glow without exposing your skin to harmful UV rays.
However, if you’re using an expired product, you might end up with uneven or patchy results. In this article, we’ll answer the question of whether self-tanner expires and provide you with everything you need to know about sunless tanning.
Does Self-Tanner Expire?
Yes, self-tanner does expire. Most self-tanners have a shelf life of around 12-18 months after opening. The effectiveness of the product can decrease over time, and the color might become patchy or streaky. Using an expired self-tanner can also cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. To avoid these problems, always check the expiration date on the product before use.
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 Yet, when these substances deteriorate, the other ingredients in the product will also be out of date as a result.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?
Yes, self-tanner does expire. Most self-tanners have a shelf life of around 12-18 months after opening. The effectiveness of the product can decrease over time, and the color might become patchy or streaky.
Using an expired self-tanner can also cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. To avoid these problems, always check the expiration date on the product before use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alternatives to Self-Tanning
If you’re not a fan of self-tanners, there are other ways to achieve a sun-kissed glow without exposure to the sun. Some alternatives include:
- Bronzer: A cosmetic product that adds color to the skin without changing its tone. It’s available in various forms, such as powder, cream, and liquid.
- Spray Tan: A temporary solution that involves spraying a fine mist of self-tanner onto the skin. The results typically last for up to one week.
- Tanning Bed: A machine that emits UV radiation to darken the skin. However, tanning beds can increase the risk of skin cancer and premature aging.
Step-by-Step Guide to Using Self-Tanner
- Exfoliate your skin before applying self-tanner to ensure an even application.
- Apply a moisturizer to dry areas such as elbows, knees, and ankles to prevent them from absorbing too much color.
- Apply the self-tanner in circular motions, starting from your legs and working your way up to your face.
- Use a tanning mitt or gloves to avoid staining your hands.
- Wait for the product to dry completely before getting dressed.
- Avoid showering or swimming for at least 6-8 hours after application to allow the color to develop.
Comparison: Self-Tanning vs. Sunbathing
- No exposure to harmful UV rays
- Achieve a natural-looking tan without the risk of sunburn or skin damage
- Can be applied year-round
- Results can last up to one week
- Exposure to harmful UV rays can increase the risk of skin cancer, premature aging, and sunburn
- Requires spending time outdoors during specific times of the day and year
- Results can be uneven or patchy
- Tans typically fade within a few days
How often should I replace my self-tanner?
It’s best to replace your self-tanner every 6-12 months, even if it hasn’t expired, to ensure optimal effectiveness.
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 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.
In conclusion, self-tanner does expire and using an expired product can lead to uneven or patchy results, skin irritation, or allergic reactions. Proper storage and regular replacement can help you achieve the best possible results.
Sunless tanning is a safe and effective way to achieve a natural-looking glow without exposing your skin to harmful UV rays. By following the tips and using one of the best self-tanners mentioned above, you can achieve a beautiful, sun-kissed complexion year-round.
Table of Contents
- Does Self-Tanner Expire?
- How Long Do Self-Tanners Last?
- What Happens If You Use An Expired Self-Tanner?
- How To Know If The Self-Tanner Is Expired?
- How To Best Preserve Your Self-Tanner?
- Alternatives to Self-Tanning
- Step-by-Step Guide to Using Self-Tanner
- Comparison: Self-Tanning vs. Sunbathing