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Does lip balm expire?

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There’s nothing more uncomfortable than having dry and chapped lips. Regularly using lip balms not only solves dryness-related issues but also protects us from harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays. However, most of the time, we don’t notice if the product has expired. 

If you are wondering whether lip balm expires, sadly, it does. 

The reason is the exposure of the air and the continuous transfer of germs after every single use. If you are someone who uses lip balms regularly, there’s much more you need to know about than just if they expire or not. 

In this article, we will discuss lip balm expiration in detail.

How to find out if your lip balm has expired?

Whether you noticed it or not, many lip balms don’t have a specific expiration date mentioned on the product. The expiration date of lip balm varies depending on when it has been opened. An unopened and unused stick could last a couple of years, while an opened pack may not survive any longer than 6-12 months. 

Check the PAO symbol 

On the back of the product, you will find a PAO (Period After Opening) symbol indicating the expiration date. It looks like an opened pot with 6M and 12M (months) written over it. If you have been using the product for more than the specified time, you definitely need a new one. 

Look for the texture

Carefully check the product’s texture to see if it has a powdery or clumpy appearance. In case it has become excessively thick and hard to apply, there’s a high chance that its expiry date has long passed. Seeing mold growth on the product is another sign of its expiry.  

Examine the color 

The product’s vegetable oils and natural extracts can react with the air and germs, leading to a change in its color. After undergoing an oxidation process, the lip balm’s efficacy reduces with time. However, it may not be very noticeable in the case of lip balms with transparent color. 

Check its smell and taste

Lip balms generally have a very pleasant odor and taste, but after reacting to external heat, they may have a chemical reaction and smell bad. So, if your product smells and tastes bitter or unpleasant, it is better to get another one. 

Examine for ingredient separation

Another sign of the expiry of your lip balm can be the uneven distribution of the ingredients in the product. This usually happens with the growth of microorganisms on the product. 


Is it safe to use an expired lip balm?

Despite knowing the expiration date of a lip balm, some people tend to use it anyway. And this is not at all a good decision. There can be some problems associated with it, from uneasiness to allergies; let’s discuss some side effects of using an expired lip balm:


The pH of lip balms decreases once the ingredients are highly oxidized and pass the expiry date. Therefore, you can feel irritation on your lips, which would surely lead to a bad day. 


As the lip balm loses its integrity and effectiveness over time, it will be unable to retain any moisture. As a result, your lips will surely be dry and chapped. Plus, it may even lead to cold sores, leading you to extreme discomfort. 

Allergic reactions

In the worst-case scenario, users with sensitive lips can experience redness, pain, or even swelling. It can harbor bacterial growth over time as well. 

What kinds of lip balm have long expiration dates?


Now the question is, if lip balms expire at a specific time, what kind of lip balms can actually be used that could last longer than a year or two? Maybe some lip balms with different compositions could have a better shelf life. Here are some of them. 

Unscented lip balms

The lip balms without flavors and vegetable oils in the lip balms have less probability of reacting with air. Hence, it could be a good idea to invest in such kinds of products. 

Stabilized formulas

In case you are fond of some scented and essential oil-inclusive lip balms, go for the ones with stabilizing ingredients like vitamin E. Such formulas prevent the oils from oxidizing, aiding a longer shelf life.

Anhydrous formulas

The less water-reactive formulas have less chance of bacterial growth that affects lip balm’s integrity. Henceforth, the lip balm with anhydrous formula may last longer. 

Tips for improving the shelf life of lip balms 

While you can’t control the expiration date of the lip balms directly, you could surely protect it from an early expiration by following some tips. Here’s how 

  • Storing the lip balms in a cool and dry place is the best way to reduce the risk of degradation.
  • Close the lip balms tightly to ensure there’s little or no room for air, which can cause them to lose their effectiveness. 
  • Sharing is caring, but it doesn’t hold true in the case of lip balms. Avoid sharing it with someone to avoid contamination and maintain personal hygiene. 
  • Protecting it from a warm place is the key; therefore, it should be refrigerated, especially when you have lip balms in bulk. In case you carry it with you in your bag, make sure to place it in a dark container. 
  • Do not touch the lip balm with untidy hands; always wash your hands before and after using it. That’s how you can avoid contamination. 

Parting comments 

In conclusion, lip balms do expire with time. Generally, a period of 6-12 months is said to be an ideal time for its usage. But the way it is used also adds up to its shelf life. It is important to check whether the lip balm is still regularly in the right texture or color. In case you have used an expired product and started seeing reactions, consult a doctor. 

The stabilized, unscented, and anhydrous formulas may be a good pick for the ones looking for a long-lasting solution. Last but not least, it is suggested that you follow the best practices mentioned above to improve the shelf life of your product.

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