Does Witch Hazel Expire? (Yes, Here’s Why)

does witch hazel expire

Witch hazel has a lot of uses in the medicine cabinet and skincare world, but a little goes a long way – and that might lead you to ask, does witch hazel expire? How long can you keep this stuff around?

Witch hazel does expire. Like all natural products, it will gradually break down and start to change. Most bottles of witch hazel are free from preservatives, and this means that they don’t last indefinitely. Some will have alcohol or other products to extend the longevity, but this needs to be checked.

How Long Does Witch Hazel Last?

On the whole, witch hazel that has not had any products added to it will last for about 2 years, according to PublicGoods. This assumes that the witch hazel is stored correctly, in cool temperatures, away from direct sunlight, with a lid on the bottle.

If you have had the witch hazel for longer than this, it may be time to get rid of it, but first, you should look on the bottle for an expiry date. Many manufacturers print one to let consumers know how long the product will be good for, and this should appear somewhere on the bottle.

It will usually be about 2 years after the date of manufacture, but not always, because this depends heavily on what other ingredients have been included. Some manufacturers put alcohol in the bottles to help the witch hazel last longer. Other preservatives may be added too.

This means you should check the expiry date before disposing of old witch hazel. It might keep for longer than you expect. However, if it has expired, it should be disposed of, not used.

Is Expired Witch Hazel Dangerous?

It is highly unlikely that expired witch hazel will cause any issues if you use it. However, you should inspect it thoroughly first, because bacterial or mold growth in the bottle could be harmful.

The liquid inside the bottle should still have the same smell, consistency, and color that it had when you opened the bottle. This will vary depending on the manufacturer and the other ingredients they have used.

If the liquid has turned thick, you can see flecks in it, or if it has developed a musty, unpleasant odor, it may not be safe to use anymore and you should discard it.

Similarly, if the color has dramatically changed, it is probably no longer good. Witch hazel is often clear, but according to Thayers, the color and clarity can depend on when the witch hazel was harvested. Some sources claim that witch hazel that has gone yellow has expired, but this isn’t necessarily true.

It is important to note that even if witch hazel has gone bad, it probably isn’t harmful to use. However, if you’re treating your skin, you want to choose the best products possible – so avoid putting expired witch hazel on, just in case. It could contain contaminants that might result in skin irritation.

How Do I Make Sure Witch Hazel Lasts Well?

Although you can’t change the expiry date on the bottle, there are a few things that you can do to ensure your witch hazel keeps as well as possible. It is worth checking these techniques out, as they should work with pure witch hazel and witch hazel products. However, defer to any instructions about storage that the manufacturer provides.

The first tip involves making sure you always put the lid back on the bottle properly, as this will minimize the risk of evaporation and prevent the exchange of air between the bottle and the outside environment. This will help the witch hazel to stay fresh for longer.

Next, you should make sure you never double dip into the bottle. Witch hazel will go bad a lot faster if you get contaminants into the bottle, so always use a clean implement when you are getting witch hazel out of the bottle.

You should also avoid touching the top of the bottle against anything when you are applying the witch hazel. Keeping the bottle’s rim clean reduces the risk of bacteria getting into the bottle.

It’s a good idea to wash your hands before picking up the bottle, too, because this will keep the outside of the bottle clean, and again reduce the risk of bacteria spreading into the bottle.

Another tip involves buying witch hazel in small quantities so that you don’t end up with bottles hanging around for years on end. Depending on how much witch hazel you use, try to buy a bottle that suits your requirements and don’t buy massive bottles if you only use the product occasionally.

Finally, make sure you keep your witch hazel in a dark spot that doesn’t get too warm. Being exposed to direct sunlight and heat will make the witch hazel go off much more quickly. Put your products in a cool cupboard so that they last longer.

How Long Does Sealed Witch Hazel Last?

If you haven’t opened a bottle of witch hazel, it should last much longer, so make sure you are ready to start using a bottle before you open it. There are no official recommendations, but if a bottle hasn’t been opened, it may be okay for a year or two after its expiration date. This extension is because no evaporation can occur, and the witch hazel can’t get contaminated.

You should always be careful, however, because in theory, expired witch hazel could cause some skin irritation. If you are putting it on your skin because there is already a problem, it could make the issue worse.

This is fairly unlikely, but it is still important to be aware of the possibility, and make an informed decision before you use the witch hazel.


Witch hazel does expire, but you should have a least a couple of years from the date of manufacture before this happens. Keep your witch hazel in a cool, dark place and make sure you don’t introduce contaminants to the bottle, and it should keep better.

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