When does beard oil expire? [The Ultimate Guide]

Beard oil is something that every single bearded person has bought at some point. Sometimes, you can get a little bit carried away and you can buy a whole range of different beard oil is to try them out. Or, maybe, you just forget about your Beard oil as it sits in the back of the cupboard forgotten about for years. If you find an old bottle of Beard oil there are a load of questions that pop into your mind – when does beard oil expire? Is it safe to use? Should I just get rid of it?. In this article, we are going to give you a definitive answer to all of these questions. By the time you finish reading this article you will know whether or not the beard oil you are using is safe and within its use-by date.

Beard oil expires when the individual components (the carrier oil and the essential oil) have oxidised to the point where the oil has broken down into other components. Some of these components are toxic whilst others just smell bad. The common ingredients of Beard oil mean that once it is open you have a shelf life of approximately 1 to 2 years. However, this is very dependent on how often you opened the container and the ingredients of the beard oil.

Don’t worry, there are some very easy ways for you to work out whether or not your Beard oil has expired. In the next section we can go through all of the signs to look for to tell if your Beard oil has gone bad.

How do you know if Beard Oil is expired?

Beard oil, like any oil, is subject to a process called oxidation. Oxidation is when there is a break down of the oil into various components. The rate that this happens is dependent on the main ingredients of the beard oil and whether or not they have been exposed to water and oxygen (things commonly found in air).

So, Beard oils that have not been opened for a long time may still be good. However, others that are opened on a daily basis may go off within one year. Essentially, the beard oil will become rancid according to the ingredient which is most prone to oxidation.

This means that it is not easy to give a single date or time on when beard oil expires. But, luckily, there are some physical characteristics of the beard oil that mean it is easy to identify once it happens. Things like smell, skin irritation, change in viscosity (thickness) and change in colour are some of the physical characteristics that you need to look at.

How to tell if beard oil is bad – Signs to look for:

If you have noticed a physical change in your Beard oil it may not all be bad. Some beard oils change their physical characteristics if they are stored at different temperatures. For example, coconut oil changes to a cloudy consistency at low temperatures. This does not mean that it is gone off. In fact, if you were to warm it back up it would return to its clear state.

There are some things however that you should pay particular attention to and, if you notice them, you should throw out your Beard oil and dispose of it, sensibly, as soon as possible.

Smell

If you notice a putrid, strong, or sour smell emanating from your Beard oil container you should consider disposing of your Beard oil.

The putrid or sour smell comes from the breakdown of the oil into smaller molecules which have a strong smell because they evaporate more readily.

The great thing about beard oils is that they are often made up of lovely smelling essential oils such as cedarwood oil, lemon oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and much more mixed with a carrier oil. This means that smell is your secret weapon when it comes to noticing if your Beard oil has gone off. In general, the carrier oil will have a low scent and will be the first to break down and turn into a horrible smell.

Even if your Beard oil has changed in the way it smells and you no longer like it this could signify the beginning stage of it turning rancid.

Trust your nose and if it smells bad – chuck it!

Irritation

Because the essential oils are the main smell of a number of different beard oils they may actually cover up any degradation of the carrier oil. If the brand uses a lot of essential oils it can easily mask any issues with your Beard oil.

This means that the smell may not be the first thing which can alert you to the fact that your Beard oil is turning rancid.

It could be that you have noticed that the beard oil irritates your skin more than usual. This would be another indication that the beard oil is turning rancid. When you first start using a beard oil I would recommend testing a small amount of the oil on your skin before using it all over your face.

This is because some people have skin sensitisation and irritation responses to some of the ingredients used in beard oils.

If you find that a beard oil that you are not normally sensitive to starts to cause redness, rashes, itchiness, or other irritation to the surface of your skin it could be that the beard oil is breaking down into other compounds which you are sensitive to.

If you notice any skin irritation from your Beard oil – stop using it quickly.

Change in consistency

Another physical property that you should consider monitoring is the change in consistency. Oils feel oily because the molecules are long. The longer the oil molecule the more the molecules interact and the thicker the oil becomes.

Beard oils aren’t particularly thick oils (like motor oil or other crude oil derived products) but they are thicker than water. If you notice that your Beard oil has changed in its consistency and it is becoming more fluid or it is not sticking to your Beard hairs as well as it used to – this could be an indication it is breaking down.

As the beard oil is oxidised it breaks up into smaller chain molecules. These tend to have a different physical property to longer chained molecules as there is smaller interaction in between the chain (this is called Van der Waals forces for any of the chemistry geeks out there).

Any change in consistency that is accompanied with sensitisation or irritation on your skin should result in the beard oil being chucked out immediately.

Change in color

Another physical attribute that you should keep an eye on is the change in colour of the beard oil. Jojoba oil, even though it is very stable, if it changes colour it is one of the first indicators that the oil has gone bad.

Typically, oils will turn more yellow or brown if they have turned rancid. Some oils, like coconut oil will change colour when they have gone off for example coconut oil will turn yellow. If the oil is commonly also used in foods this can mean that the oil will go off quicker.

Any change in colour which you cannot explain should result in the beard oil being tested for smell and consistency. The reason why colour on its own is not a reason for chucking out a beard oil is because some beard oils change colour due to the outside temperature.

For example, to use the coconut oil example again, coconut oil will turn cloudy at lower temperatures. The moment the coconut oil is heated up to room temperature it will return to a much clearer visual consistency.

Time on shelf

One of the last things which could be an indication that your Beard oil has turned rancid is the amount of time that your Beard oil has been sat on the shelf.

Each component of the beard oil has a different shelf life. As a simple rule of thumb, your Beard oil will last as long as the lowest shelf-life component.

Here is a table of common carrier oils that are regularly found in beard oils. Carrier oils make up the main components of the beard oil and act as a “carrier” for other ingredients such as essential oils or any medicinal components.

Carrier oils
Jojoba oilTwo to Three yearsVery stable. No changing color means it has not turned rancid. Study: Study of jojoba oil aging by FTIR
Coconut oilRefined – 18 months Virgin – 3 to 5 years plusWill become rancid if exposed to air. Use an airtight container away from sunlight. Study: Quality characteristics and oxidative stability of coconut oil during storage
Avocado oilSix months once opened unopened – one year.Store in the fridge. Study: Oxidative stability of avocado oil
Argan oilOnce opened six monthsStudy: Oxidative stability of cosmetic argan oil: a one-year study
Sunflower oilUnrefined – four months hot pressed – 10 monthsStudy: Oxidation of sunflower oil during storage
Castor oilColdpressed – five years normal – one yearWill turn dark brown if it has expired.  
Sweet AlmondSix months to one year.Study: Evaluation of oxidative stability of sweet and bitter almond oils under accelerated storage conditions

You can see from the above table that some oils have a varying shelf lives depending on how they were processed. In some cases, unrefined versus hot pressed results in a reduction in the lifetime of the oil.

In all of the cases above, the one thing that remains common amongst all of them is that they seem to have up to a one year shelf life. That means, that if you one to make your own beard oil in a large batch you shouldn’t make any more than you can use in about one year. If you are going for long-term storage you should consider using jojoba oil as the main component as it is up to 3 years of shelf life.

If you want to know more about beard oil you can check out my other article – what does beard oil do? – Click here. There is even a accompanying video which explains the most important things.

The next most common ingredient in beard oil are essential oils. We shall take a look at the different categories of essential oils now.

Essential oils

Essential oils are added to beard oils because they provide a nice smell and also have some therapeutic benefits (some more backed by science than others). Essential oils, when used directly on the hair and skin, can cause a significant amount of damage and irritation. That is why we dilute them in a carrier oil.

Each essential oil is made differently. This means that the shelf lives vary wildly from oil to oil. We will go over the different lifetimes from the longest lifetime oils to ones that have a much lower shelf life.

Long life ones (6-8 years)
  • Sandalwood

If you have Sandalwood in your Beard oil it will last for a very long time. Sandalwood is a common essential oil in beard products as it has a range of different properties and smells great. It is known as an antibacterial cleanser and is also able to moisturise oily skin and relieve against itching. Some of the most common issues associated with growing a beard.

Medium life (3-5 years)

Here are the essential oils which have a lifetime of about 3 to 5 years. At this shelflife they will still have a much greater ability to resist oxidation than the carrier oils in which they are placed.

  • tea tree
  • spearmint
  • lemongrass
  • coffee
  • balm mint
  • eucalyptus
  • vanilla
  • Lavender
  • peppermint
  • cedarwood

All of these oils are very common in beard oils and other beard products. Because of the long shelf life of 3 to 5 years the carrier oil will still be the main component of the oil which goes off first.

The next section contains the essential oils with the shortest shelf life.

Short shelf life (<2 years)

You will notice that all of these essential oils are derived from citrus fruits. If you have a beard oil which contains a fair amount of citrus then it is likely to go off a little bit quicker than the other essential oils.

  • Lemon
  • Mandarin
  • lime
  • Orange

These essential oils are commonly found in beard products as they add a lovely refreshing feel to the beard product and is perfect for invigorating you and your Beard in the morning.

This shelf life corresponds with the average shelf life of the carrier oils which are commonly used in beard oils. This means that if you are storing these essential oils separately then they should be used at the same rate that you are using your carrier oils. Keeping them in smaller containers and regularly ordering more will be the way that you can keep your citrus essential oils fresh and ready for use.

Now that you know how to long each beard oil lasts it important to cover what would happen if you used an expired Beard oil. Is it bad? Let’s check it out now.

What happens if we use expired Beard Oil?

We can all be tempted to use expired products if we find some in the back of the cupboard. But, is it a bad idea? Does the expired Beard oil have any particular issues which can damage our health or our beard?

If you use an expired Beard oil it is likely to cause extra skin sensitisation and because there is an increase of free radicals in the beard oil you may find that it would be able to increase the rate of ageing and damage to your Beard and skin.

Here are some common issues that can arise if you are using an expired Beard oil.

Skin sensitization

As oils oxidise they turn into smaller more diverse molecules. It could be that you are allergic to the degradation components of the oils as they oxidise.

If you are seeing any redness or irritation which was not there when you first bought the beard oil you should consider replacing the beard oil and any old products that you have in your daily maintenance routine.

Increase of free radicals

The reason people use essential oils in beard oils is because they reduce the amount of free radicals which are in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules that are produced in the body naturally as a byproduct of metabolism or by exposure to environmental toxins such as environmental UV light.

As the essential oils breakdown they no longer provide the same level of antioxidant protection that they did when they were fresh. This means that if you were to continue using a beard oil which has expired not only will the free radicals increase but it could increase beyond the point of not using any beard oil containing antioxidants.

The result would be that your body would experience an increase in the rate of ageing and the presence of extra free radicals in your body could increase the likelihood of developing a cancer.

Do not worry however, because there is still no direct evidence that using beard oil that has gone off results in an increase in cancer this is all by looking at other science on the peripheries of this product.

The uncertainty of risk combined with the low cost of the beard oil means that it is smarter to replace your Beard oil then run the risk of increasing your body’s exposure to free radicals and sensitisation agents.

How, then, should we store beard oil for it to retain its maximum lifespan.

How to store beard oil for maximum life span

Storing your Beard oil which has been purchased from a manufacturer is as easy as keeping it in the container it came in and placing it in some dark and cold part of your bathroom. However, sometimes the manufacturers do not provide the beard oil in an ideal container or the container is just simply too big for you to get through in the year in which the beard oil is likely to go off.

Here are the simple things that you can do to maximise the lifespan of your Beard oil.

Reduce exposure to oxygen and water

Oxidation happens because of the exposure to oxygen and water. Typically, men apply beard oil in a room which is very humid i.e. the shower room. This means that every time you open your container the top surface of the beard oil is exposed to a significant amount of moisture.

The moisture also gets trapped in the top of the container (where there is no beard oil) and continues to oxidise the beard oil as it sits in between uses. The beard oil will also accelerate in degradation as the container gets more and more empty.

You should consider using a beard oil in another room other than the shower room if you are finding that your Beard oil goes off quicker than usual. If you live in a particularly humid environment you should also consider using an airtight container that you place your Beard oil container in. This double layer will help protect your Beard oil from access exposure to moisture in the air.

Use smaller containers

If you are buying a large container of Beard oil you should consider decanting some of the beard oil into much smaller droppers and containers.

By using smaller containers you are able to control how often the oil gets exposed to air. A sealed container will last much longer than a container which is opened regularly. Small 1 ounce droppers can be purchased very inexpensively and may save your Beard oil from oxidising as quickly. Once you have finished your small beard oil container you will be able then to decant more into the container. This means the “bulk source” of the oil is opened once every six months as opposed to daily.

What will damage beard oil

If you are unsure of how to store your Beard oil you need to make sure that your Beard oil is not exposed to the following environmental contaminants.

Light

Light and in particular UV, high energy, light will quickly degrade any naturally occurring molecule. The one way to get around this is to make sure that your Beard oil is stored in a cool dark spot like the inside of a cupboard away from a window sill or source of bright light.

You can also purchase Beard oil droppers and containers which are made from a darker glass so that less light is able to penetrate through to the oil. The combination of the dark glass and a dark cupboard is the perfect situation for storing your Beard oil.

Heat

Heat will accelerate the degradation of your Beard oil. As a rule of thumb the reaction rate of degradation doubles for every extra 10 °C the beard oil is exposed to.

For example, I live in Adelaide, Australia. This means that the summer air temperature can easily reach over 40°C for up to a week. This means that the beard oil that I purchase goes off much quicker than if I was living in a colder climate like the United Kingdom or, to quote an extreme, Alaska.

Seek out the coolest spot in your bedroom or bathroom and you’ll be able to keep your Beard oil fresher for longer.

Exposure to air

Exposing the beard oil to oxygen in the air will also degrade the oil. This means that using a smaller container, like suggested above, will reduce the amount of oil which is exposed to air upon opening a container of Beard oil.

I like to keep the bulk of my beard oil in a cool dry position away from light and then decant into smaller containers once every six months to avoid exposing the beard oil to light and air. I then am able to use up the remaining Beard oil without it going off as quickly.

Water

Humid environments accelerate the degradation of oil. In extreme humid conditions you may want to consider using a desiccant in an airtight container in which you store your Beard oil. This is an extreme option if you find that your Beard oil is going off in under six months.

For most consumers and users of Beard oil, simply using an airtight dropper bottle and keeping it away from the shower is normally enough as we will use the beard oil quicker than it is able to decay and go off.

How long does 1oz of Beard Oil last?

With all of this talk about Beard oil going off it may seem like you are going to have to chuck out Beard oil regularly. This is almost certainly not the case as the average user of Beard oil is able to go through Beard oil quick enough so that they do not use rancid products.

That said, it could be that your beard is not long enough for using a significant amount of beard oil or you may have purchased a number of different types to try them out.

I have done an experiment to work out how long a 1 ounce bottle of Beard oil lasts by taking the average weight of 10 drops and then multiplying that by the number of drops that are typically used every day.

This will give you an indication of how long your Beard oil will last.

Drops number of days table

I worked out that 20 drops was about 1 g of oil. A 1 ounce bottle contains approximately 28.3 g of oil and therefore I was able to calculate the number of days and months a bottle of oil will last if you take into account the number of drops per day that is used. That resulted in this table:

1 Oz bottle lifetime
Drops per day daysmonths
156719
22839
31896
41425
51134
6943
7813
8712
9632
10572

This means that the average user which uses somewhere between four and 10 drops a day can expect their Beard oil to last between five and two months.

Of course the average user will use different amounts of Beard oil on different days and this is approximate to the length of the beard and the amount will increase as the beard grows.

How many times a day should I use Beard Oil?

You should use Beard oil at least once a day. I like to use my beard oil first thing in the morning after I have come out of the shower. This means that I have locked the moisture into my beard before using any thing like a Beard straightener or hairdryer.

You can then support your Beard throat the day by adding smaller amounts of Beard oil in the afternoon or evening. If you find that your beard is particularly dry you can apply Beard oil up to 3 times a day without it becoming too oily.

If you find that your Beard looks oily for too long (more than 30 minutes after applying the Beard oil) then you should consider using less.

Check out my video for my morning beard routine:

How to dispose of beard oil

If your Beard oil is gone rancid it is tempting just to pour it down the drain. And let’s be honest, most of us have done this at some point. However, if you have large amounts of oil the best thing to do is to take it to a local council garbage site for proper disposal.

If you have small amount you can mix it with detergent and then flush it down the drain. The issue is if you are getting rid of Beard oils with high concentrations of essential oils it can easily become a contaminant of your local waterways.

In short, dispose of like you would any other cooking oil no matter how little you have. Let’s protect the environment!

Summary

In this article we have covered everything you need to know about how long Beard oil will last on your shelf and we have looked in detail at the individual components for you to make an informed decision on your next Beard oil purchase.

If in doubt, your Beard oil can be replaced and disposed of easily at a relatively small cost. We have also covered the ways in which you can reduce the effects of oxidation on your Beard oil by decanting it into a smaller container and minimising the exposure to UV light and air.

Happy beard growing my beautiful Beard grown friends and I hope that your Beard oil does not go off!

The Author


Andy Stapleton

Andy is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He is an avid beard grower and after many years of growing and trialing different beard styles, he started this blog to share the tips, tricks, and science that he has learned along the way!