Hello dear people whom will read this! I want to go on a little rant here, about the nature of natural products...
I sometimes get customers asking about the shelf life of our salves and creams, or why their 2 year old lip balm tastes weird. Well, the reality is, these products are made with fresh oils, whole fresh herbs, and real human hands. That's what makes them so great! But, it also doesn't make them invincible like some of the preservative rich products in your local drug store. I often see a disconnect with natural health and beauty products when it comes to shelf life. When one buys Kale from the local farmer's market, and it starts to wilt after a few days and smells like old shoes after a week or so, people don't tend to think their entitled to it lasting indefinitely. With health and beauty products, we've been spoiled - to believe they don't spoil. A really good cream, shouldn't last indefinitely! I could add preservatives to our products, like many companies (even 'natural' ones) do, but they tend to be detrimental to the skin, and to life in general. Many of them are even carcinogenic! Yuck! So I decided to go a completely natural route, and strive to make the best products I possibly can, using as many fresh, local herbs as possible.
So...the lesson being- natural health products do not last forever. I have had salves, open, for years, and they are fine. Others might not last much more than a year. It depends so much on the conditions they are stored in, the herbs in the salve, and the bacteria on the fingers that dip into them! A general rule of thumb is to change them out after a year. Even if they aren't bad, it's best to have fresh products from this years' season. It's just like cleaning out your fridge-- if it's old, or it smells bad, throw it out! Buy some new stuff!
I'm definitely not trying to increase my sales or promote the waste of great goods with this post... but I do believe we should feed our skin the very best we can- and no sense using something that has gone past it's prime when we can do better.
PS: A great use for old salves or creams is to condition wood with them! Or rocks! I love coating Petoskey stones in salve to make them shine, and I love rubbing down my wood furniture with Shea Butter cream to moisturize and clean it up :)