Understanding the Shelf Life: Does Self Tanner Expire?

Does Self Tanner Expire

Self-tanning is a convenient and safer alternative to baking under the sun’s rays.

But before you dive into your cabinet stash of tanning products, it’s time for a reality check.

Are those old bottles still good? How long do they really last?

In this post, we will explore everything you need to know about the shelf life of self tanners, from expiration dates and signs of deterioration to tips for extending their longevity.

Key Takeaways

  • Self tanners do have a shelf life, typically lasting up to 12 months after opening and two years when unopened.
  • Store your tan in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and keep it tightly sealed between uses.
  • Expired products as they can pose risks like bacterial growth, uneven coverage or allergic reactions on sensitive skin types.

Does Self Tanner Expire? 

Self tanner does have a shelf life, but it varies based on various factors such as the type of self-tanning product, storage conditions, and exposure to air and sunlight.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Self Tanner?

What Is The Shelf Life Of Self Tanner

As a die-hard fan of sunless tanning, it’s crucial to know the shelf life of your self tanner.

Typically, the average shelf life of most self-tanning products is around 12 months after opening and up to two years when unopened.

This can vary depending on the specific product and its ingredients.

Now imagine finally deciding to use that long-forgotten bottle of self tanner you stash away for special occasions, only to find out it has lost its magic touch! 

But understanding this timeframe ensures your tan looks fabulous every time without causing any harm or irritation to your skin.

Expiration Date For Opened And Unopened Self Tanners

Generally, unopened self tanners can last up to two years from the manufacturing date, while opened bottles have a shelf life of six months to one year, depending on how well they are preserved.

To determine if your product still has time until expiry, check for the “best before” or “use by” date label printed on its packaging.

It’s important not to disregard this information as using expired self-tanning products may lead to uneven color results and skin irritation.

If you notice changes in consistency or smell, it could be an indication that your self-tanner has gone bad and needs replacing.

Risks Of Using Expired Self Tanner

Using expired self-tanner can be a risky endeavor.

The longer you keep self-tanner means that its active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), starts to break down and become less effective.

You may end up with uneven or streaky tan lines, and it could also cause skin irritation and rashes which is not the desired effect at all!

Moreover, expired tanning products create a risk for bacterial growth, which can lead to infections when applied to the skin.

To avoid these risks, make sure to always check the expiration date on your self-tanner before using it and discard any product that has passed its prime time.

Factors That Affect Shelf Life Of Self Tanner

Factors That Affect Shelf Life Of Self Tanner

Storage Conditions

Proper storage of your self tanner can make a huge difference in its shelf life.

It’s best to keep it in a cool, dark place and away from direct sunlight or heat sources like radiators.

This will help maintain the integrity of the DHA (dihydroxyacetone) molecules that give you that beautiful bronze glow.

If you’re using an aerosol spray, be sure to store it upright, as horizontal placement can cause leakage or uneven spraying.

Another thing to consider is how long you’ve had your self tanner open. Once opened, air can start to break down the formula and reduce its effectiveness.

Exposure To Air And Sunlight

Exposure to air and sunlight can also affect the shelf life of your self-tanner.

That’s because UV light breaks down DHA, the active ingredient in most self-tanners that creates a faux glow on your skin.

When exposed to air, DHA starts oxidizing which leads to changes in color and consistency making it ineffective for tanning purposes.

One way to prevent oxidation is by choosing an eco-friendly product with natural preservatives like green tea or vitamin E oil.

These ingredients help protect against damage caused by exposure while providing nourishment for the skin.

Packaging Quality Of The Bottle

A poorly packaged product is prone to damage and exposure to air, sunlight and moisture which rapidly reduces its efficacy. 

High-quality bottles designed with UV inhibitors prevent light from breaking down DHA dihydroxyacetone – an essential ingredient in tanning products that darken the skin.

For example, St Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse comes in a sleek pump bottle that dispenses just enough product for an even application while preventing unnecessary wastage and spillage.

The bottle design ensures the mousse stays fresh till its expiration date without oxidizing or deteriorating quickly.

When To Replace Your Self Tanner: Signs Of Deterioration

Signs Of Deterioration

Changes in consistency:

 If your self-tanner has thickened or become lumpy, this may be a sign that it has expired.

Over time, the active ingredients in self-tanners can break down and lose their effectiveness, causing changes in the texture and consistency of the product.

Changes in color:

 If your self-tanner has changed color or developed a strange odor, this may also be a sign that it has expired.

Old self-tanners can sometimes turn green or brown, or develop an unpleasant smell due to the breakdown of the active ingredients.

Uneven application

If your self-tanner is not applying evenly or is streaky, it may be a sign that it has expired.

Old self-tanners can become clumpy or separated, which can affect the way they apply and distribute on the skin.

Skin Reactions

Over time, DHA (dihydroxyacetone), which is the active ingredient in most self-tanners, can break down into other compounds that may be irritating or sensitizing to the skin.

In addition to the breakdown of DHA, expired self-tanners may also be contaminated with bacteria or other microorganisms, which can cause infections or other adverse reactions on the skin.

If you experience any redness, itching, or other adverse reactions after using a self-tanner, stop using the product immediately and consult a healthcare provider or dermatologist for advice.


Now that you know all about the shelf life of self tanner, it’s important to keep in mind that using expired products can have negative effects on your skin.

Always check the expiration date before applying and dispose of any old or deteriorated products properly.

By following proper storage guidelines and using within recommended time frames, you can extend the life of your self tanner and maintain a healthy glow all year round.


How can I tell if my self-tanner has expired?

If your self-tanner has changed color, consistency, or smell, it may have expired.

Additionally, if you experience any irritation or unusual skin reactions after use, this could also be a sign that the product is no longer safe to use.

What is the shelf life of self tanner?

The shelf life of self-tanners can vary depending on the formulation and storage conditions, but in general, most self-tanners have a shelf life of around 6-12 months.

This can vary based on several factors, including the quality of the product, the type of packaging, and the storage conditions.

Can I still use an expired self-tanner?

It is not recommended to continue using an expired self-tanner as the efficacy and safety of the product cannot be guaranteed past its expiration date.

It’s better to play it safe and replace old products with fresh ones.