THE TRUTH BE­HIND EX­PIRY DATES

Can de­odor­ant go bad? What about sham­poo?

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - How Your World Works - BY DI DI GLUCK

WE ALL KNOW THAT MILK, cheese and fish can rot, but what about shav­ing cream? It's not an is­sue most men spend a lot of time wor­ry­ing about. Take my friend Ari. When I asked him if he'd ever used a grooming prod­uct be­yond its ex­piry date, he said, “Hon­estly, tons of them and I can't re­call a prob­lem. But then again, I'm male. If my shav­ing cream turned into sand, I would as­sume it was sup­posed to be that way.”

I love Ari, but the truth is, some grooming prod­ucts can spoil. Whether that hap­pens and how long it takes de­pends on the prod­uct's for­mu­la­tion and use of preser­va­tives. And whereas an ex­pired bot­tle of hair gel may not cause a na­tional panic the way a batch of sal­mo­nella-laden fish fingers might, an out-of-date prod­uct can be in­ef­fec­tive at best or, in ex­treme cases, cause al­ler­gic re­ac­tions, rashes or even in­fec­tions.

Ul­ti­mately fresh­ness de­pends on a prod­uct's for­mu­la­tion. “Chem­i­cally speak­ing, there are two main types of for­mu­las,” says Gay Tim­mons, the founder of Oh, Oh Or­ganic, a cos­metic-in­gre­di­ents dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany. “An­hy­drous for­mu­las con­tain oils, but no wa­ter. Emul­sions are a mix of wa­ter and oil.” An­hy­drous prod­ucts that con­tain per­ish­able plant oils, such as flaxseed or bor­age, will ox­i­dise and smell, much like food. An­hy­drous for­mu­las con­tain­ing es­sen­tial oils such as laven­der or berg­amot, which con­tain an­tiox­i­dants, are

HOW LONG CAN I USE . . .

Flu­o­ride tooth­paste

12 to 18 months.

Anti-age­ing mois­turiser 12 months in a jar; 18 months in a tube. Less wa­ter and air es­capes from a tube. Sun­block Af­ter 12 months, SPF will no longer be re­li­able.

Body lo­tion Up to 18 months.

Shav­ing cream Up to 24 months de­pend­ing on the not likely to spoil, but be­cause these oils are volatile, their aro­mas may lose po­tency. In gen­eral, ex­pired an­hy­drous prod­ucts, such as shav­ing oil, de­odor­ant and lip balm, may still work and won't cause harm, but they could be­come gross or in­ef­fec­tive.

Emul­sions, how­ever, con­tain wa­ter, which can evap­o­rate and dry out the prod­uct (hair gel) or grow bac­te­ria or mould (mois­turiser, lo­tion, shav­ing cream). The lat­ter can lead to itch­ing or a rash. In rare in­stances, you could de­velop a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion, es­pe­cially if the tainted prod­uct gets into an open wound, your mouth or eyes. “Some­thing would have to go pretty damn bad for that to hap­pen,” Tim­mons says. What's more, by that time, the prod­uct would likely smell so dis­gust­ing you'd be un­likely to use it, even if you don't pay at­ten­tion to that kind of thing.

“Most prod­ucts are safe for six months to two years af­ter they've been opened,” says Tom Wilscam, CEO of Hom­mage, a men's grooming com­pany. Many com­pa­nies use an open-bot­tle-cap icon with a num­ber and an “M” (for “months”), 12M, say, to in­di­cate how long the prod­uct will re­main sta­ble af­ter it's been opened. These icons can usu­ally be found un­der the in­gre­di­ents list on the back of the bot­tle. Use them as your guide.

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