Are Expired Sheet Masks Really That Bad for You?
You know that heart-wrenching feeling when you reach into your beauty closet to finally try out that hot new skincare product … and you waited so long, it’s expired? But what if it didn’t have to be the end of the world? What if — now, wait for it — you could use a sheet mask even though it’s past its expiration date? Editor Sheryll experiments with some expired sheet masks — and lives to tell the tale.
Today’s topic is one that y’all are going to potentially side-eye me for, but I want you to hear me out and keep an open mind.
Let me set the scene first. If you’ve followed me on Instagram for any amount of time, you’ll know that I have a pretty extensive sheet mask collection. There was a point where I was buying huge stashes of sheet masks every month (because they were on sale, duh), but you know, I only have one face, so I’ve been working my way through them slowly.
But a few months ago, when I did my quarterly skincare organization/cleanup, I realized that at least a quarter of my masks had expiration dates within the month or next. Naturally, I panicked — I mean, who spends all this money on sheet masks and doesn’t use them? (Me, that’s who). By my rough calculations, even if I used a mask twice a day, I still wouldn’t make my way through them before their expiration date. Cue the saddest music possible.
And then one day, I saw an Instagram story from Anna of @maskaddict that talked about using expired sheet masks and how *gasp* your face wasn’t going to immediately fall off from using them. She had used a few expired masks and commented that they all smelled, looked, and performed just as well as a new mask. You know, as a skincare expert for the better part of a decade, I have it ingrained in my soul to never use an expired product, but I learned that there are definitely some exceptions. After I saw her story, I set out to investigate for myself. And what I learned was pretty surprising!
Storage is key
So, we all know sheet masks are packaged in a one-use package that can’t be opened and then re-sealed. This gives sheet masks a big leg up in the whole “growing gross bacteria from the outside world” thing. Now, this doesn’t mean that bacteria can’t thrive in an unopened sheet mask — if you keep your masks in a warm, humid environment like your bathroom, then you’re probably going to want to make sure that you’re using your masks before the expiration date to be safe.
But, on the other hand, if you keep your sheet masks in a cool place like your bedroom, or even better, the fridge, you can probably get away with using a sheet mask past its expiration date. And when I’m saying past its expiration date, I’m saying by like six to nine months or so. I personally wouldn’t use a mask that was over a year old.
Check and patch test
Now, before you go and put a bunch of expired sheet masks on your face, I want to you to make sure you’re patch testing and doing some checks. Open the pouch and smell it — does it smell off? Or weird in any way? Toss it. If it smells fine, take some of the essence and put it on an inconspicuous place like behind your ears or your wrists. If it feels fine, go ahead and use it. If you’d still rather not use it on your face, you can use it on your neck, feet, or chest.
Basically, this whole experience was a wake-up call for me. There is no need for me, or anyone really, to buy and hoard so many sheet masks that they end up expiring before you can use them. Sheet masks are typically good for two to three years, so the fact that I had 3-year-old masks that I’d never touched was a bit distressing. Now, instead of organizing my masks by type, I’ve been organizing by expiration date, that way, I know which ones I need to use up first. I’ve been working my way through all of the masks I have, and you know, my skin hasn’t exploded, so I think we’re all gonna be OK.
Have you ever used expired sheet masks? Let me know in the comments!