Reaching for that old beard oil or beard balm and uncertain if it’s still any good?
Generally, you want to use any beard conditioner about six months to one year after purchase.
Ingredient Shelf Life Varies
Popular beard conditioners are made from a blend of natural ingredients, including carrier oils, essential oils, butter, and beeswax.
Just like the food in your cabinets, these natural ingredients will eventually go bad.
Unfortunately, beard care companies aren’t required to put an expiration date on their products. Thus, leading to confusion about how long a product lasts.
To counteract this lax labeling requirement, we went ahead and researched a few popular wholesalers where beard care companies often source their raw ingredients from. This would help provide a better understanding of the true shelf life of beard conditioners.
Here’s what we discovered:
These are added to all beard conditioners and are responsible for nourishing and moisturizing your skin upon application. There are many different carrier oils, however, jojoba, argan, grapeseed, and sweet almond oil are among the most popular.
On average, jojoba oil has a shelf life of three years, the longest of all the carrier oils we researched:
Another popular base for beard conditioners is argan oil. The shelf life for this carrier oil was up to two years:
We found that grapeseed oil also had a shelf life of two years. But grapeseed oil was recommended to be refrigerated after opening:
Sweet Almond Oil
Lastly, sweet almond oil had a shelf life of two years:
Derived from seeds, roots, peels, nuts, leaves, and more, essential oils are a bit more complicated of an ingredient.
The shelf life for all the essential oils we researched was never disclosed. We looked up sandalwood oil, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, lemon oil, and several others but had no luck in finding a finite shelf life from a reputable source. Therefore, we cannot definitively say how long you can expect this ingredient to retain its structure within a beard conditioner.
But we suggest putting little weight on the shelf life of essential oils as companies only add a small amount (a few drops) to any given beard conditioner. Essential oils are added primarily for fragrance.
Found in beard balm and beard butter, shea or cocoa butter provides malleability of the product and deep nourishment to the skin. In particular, shea butter has the shortest shelf life of one year when stored properly:
For another wholesaler, we found that cocoa butter has a shelf life of three years.
Beeswax, commonly added for its protectant, humectant, and styling abilities has a shelf life of three years.
You can find this ingredient in beard balms and some beard butters.
Ingredients are Only Half the Story
Given that we are dealing with a natural product, other variables such as storage and packaging become much more important. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Ideally, a beard conditioner should be stored in an amber bottle or metal tin. This packaging will help slow down the degradation process of the natural ingredients when exposed to direct sunlight or bright lights.
Some companies will also place their product in a cardboard product box for added protection during shipping.
You may have noticed earlier that the raw ingredients found in beard conditioners should be stored in cool and dark places. Furthermore, some ingredients, such as grapeseed oil, are recommended for refrigeration after opening.
Unfortunately, most men store their beard conditioners (and other grooming products) in their medicine cabinet, an area subject to significant changes in both humidity and temperature.
Ideally, you should store any beard conditioner, or natural grooming product for that matter, outside of the bathroom.
Natural ingredients are subject to oxidation. Each ingredient will oxidize at differing rates. For example, one study researched the oxidation of jojoba oil in relation to other lipids. Here’s what they found:
Jojoba oil shows good thermal stability up to a relatively high temperature. Generally, the cosmetic formulations containing jojoba oil have superior stability toward oxidation than other lipids used for this purpose. A comparative study of the relative oxidation stability of jojoba oil, sperm whale oil, carnauba wax esters, Limnanthes douglassi wax esters, and behenyl arachidate revealed that jojoba oil has high oxidative stability comparing all other oils .https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8197201/
Another study found that when exposing argan oil to the air, the oil deteriorated more rapidly (source).
The takeaway: Keep your beard conditioner well-sealed between each use.
Cosmetics are a loosely regulated industry resulting in little oversight of the manufacturing process. As a result, some beard conditioners might be made haphazardly.
While you may be diligent about storing your beard conditioner properly, it doesn’t mean that the company that made it was as careful.
Additionally, you have no way of knowing how long ago their big barrel of jojoba oil may have purchased.
The point is this:
There is little you can do here when it comes to due diligence, and you just simply need to take the companies word on the procedures in place. If anything, only purchase from trusted brands that likely have a high turnover and carry a positive reputation.
Signs Your Beard Conditioner Expired
While you can expect the scent to gradually fade with time, should your beard conditioner smell rancid, moldy, or simply not as expected (i.e., citrusy beard oil now smells like burnt nuts), then you should throw it away.
Here are a few signs of poor product consistency and when to replace a beard balm or beard butter:
- Brittle: If the balm or butter feels grainy, chunky, or is no longer pliable.
- Separation: Occurs often after several months of neglect.
Irritation or Rash
Some men may experience irritation or a mild rash after applying an old beard conditioner. This could be the result of a spoiled ingredient or bacterial growth within the conditioner. If a rash does occur, discard the product immediately.
Ultimately, a beard conditioner is a product that should be regularly used immediately after purchasing.
We hope that this guide help to provide you with a better understanding of beard conditioners and their expected shelf life.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.