4 Items You Must Never Use Past Their Expiration Date

There are some things you just know not to use after they’ve expired. As soon as you open a carton of milk, for instance, the smell warns you immediately that it’s not going to taste good.

Other things aren’t so obvious. You see the expiration date, and you see the product. It looks normal. It smells normal. And if you try it, it might even taste normal. 

But you still shouldn’t use most items past their “use by” date. The number is put there for a reason.

In the case of these four particular products, it could be dangerous to use them if they’re expired. 

1. Medication

Prescription and non-prescription drugs always have an expiration date. This tells you when the medication has the most potency. 

After the “use by” date, the ingredients aren’t as effective. And, as time goes on, they can become so ineffective that it makes you sicktaking them.

Since medication can be expensive, we want it to last as long as possible. Getting pain relievers for symptoms you rarely have means the bottle can last for years, which is both a win and a lose situation.

The chemicals that make up medications have a “shelf life”—the length of time they’re usually strong enough to do the job they advertise. After that shelf life ends, the ingredients degrade and can pick up bacteria. 

So, if you’re considering taking an expired antibiotic, think twice. It will not only fail to heal you, but it may introduce new bacteria into your body and increase antibiotic resistance.

2. Cannabis Edibles

Making your own edibles or buying pre-made versions is a fun way to benefit from cannabis. As with any food, though, there’s a “use by” date, even if it’s inferred.

Products with THC will begin to lose their effectiveness gradually. The speed of degradation increases when THC is exposed to oxygen. 

To keep your edibles safe, store them in a moisture-free airtight container in a cool (not cold) environment. Any shady spot, such as your cupboard, works. 

Pre-made edibles are a little easier to judge their freshness because they come with an expiration date. If you’ve made your own, when you store it, write the date made with a permanent marker on the outside of the container.

When you think about eating the item, check the date. Baked goods are usually porous, so the THC is going to degrade faster. Gummies and hard candies have a hard exterior that keeps the THC fresh. They should still be used within six months for the best results. 

3. Sunscreen

Using expired sunscreen is just as dangerous as skipping it altogether, if not more so. By putting sunscreen all over your body, you assume you’re okay to be out in the harsh rays for a while. But if the product was past its expiration date, it’s probably not working.

Like medications, sunscreens tend to have a long shelf life. The Food and Drug Administration has regulations that each product remains effective for three years or longer. 

If your sunscreen doesn’t have an expiration date on it already, write the date you bought it on the bottle. After three years from that date, throw it out. It might work, but there’s no guarantee, and no one wants to chance a severe sunburn over an eight-dollar bottle of sunblock.

4. Eye Makeup

You spent a lot of money on your beauty products. They look like they’re still fine, so why would you throw them away?

Different types of beauty products have their own shelf life. When it comes to eye makeup, that shelf life doesn’t last very long. So, the $50 tube of mascara you bought a year ago and used once needs to go straight in the trash can.

The problem isn’t the product itself. It’s the fact that eye makeup tends to attract bacteria, even when the cap is on tightly. These bacteria cause irritation or infection when they get close to your eyes.

Here’s a quick overview of the basic shelf life of common makeup types:

  • Liquid foundation and concealer: six months to one year
  • Blush and powders: up to two years
  • Creams and cream sticks: one to one-and-a-half years
  • Lipstick: one year
  • Pencil eyeliner: one year
  • Liquid eyeliner: three to four months
  • Mascara: three months
  • Eyeshadow: three to six months

If you’re not going to use a makeup product quickly, it could be more cost-effective to buy a medium-priced brand.


Expiration dates can be like speed limits—often ignored. And, like those numbers we think are suggestions instead of laws, ignoring the “use by” date is frequently dangerous. 

If you have any of these products in your home that are past their shelf life, throw them out now. They may not be safe, and they’re cluttering up your home!