This write up was made to bring a little clarity to a topic that is rarely spoken on; product rancidity. Rancidity comes in many forms and shapes.. some noticeable, some not. Make no mistake, there is not a natural hair care product in the world that is safe from this. There are a lot of factors that will affect the total shelf life of any given product. The shelf life can be extended in most products by refrigerating, but even refrigerating can not guarantee that a product w...ill not go bad. The saying “you are only as strong as your weakest link” applies here. As a rule of thumb, when no preservatives are present, a product will have the shelf life of the ingredient with the SHORTEST shelf life. Once a preservative is added, a product takes on the shelf life of the preservative. Below I have provided a shelf life chart for the most common oils found on the market.
Almond Oil – 1 year
Argan Oil – 2 years
Avocado Oil – 1 year
Castor – 1 year
Coconut Oil – 2 years
Grapeseed Oil – 3 months
Olive Oil – 2 years
Note: The shelf life of a product reduces dramatically once exposed to air. Additionally, improper storage or handling of your products may cause them to go rancid faster. To add to this, just because a product has a shelf life of 1 year does not mean it will actually go bad in one year. Consider this table a “best by” guide that can be affected dramatically by the right or wrong conditions.
Types of Spoilage and How to Avoid Them
The most noticeable form of spoilage comes in the form of mold. Mold is most common in water based products, as mold needs water to grow. Water will cause mold to grow in products without proper preservatives within 3 days. For water/oil mixes, make sure you are using distilled water. While mold forming bacteria still grows in distilled water, it takes much longer than regular tap water. To extend the shelf life of your water based products, make sure they are stored in the refrigerator.
Consider oxidation the regular wear and tear of a product. This process occurs faster when products become exposed to air, light, and heat. In most situations product rancidity is not noticeable. Smelling your product can be an easy way to check for product rancidity. The issue is, when a product is scented the rancid smell can often be masked and unnoticed. Store your oils and products in a dark cool place to delay the oxidation process.
Why Should You Give a Damn??
Consuming rancid oils can lead to cancer, diabetes and other sicknesses. Applied topically they can lead to infection, allergic reactions, and many other things. While I would assume everyone is smart enough not to ingest rancid products, remember this... Your skin is your body's LARGEST organ. Even though most products will not penetrate the skin, I would rather replace the product than to potentially expose my organs to harmful bacteria. When in doubt, throw it out!