I have found a stash of shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and hand creams in a box in my cellar. They are left over from a move to this house in 1997, so are now 15 years old. The question is: are they safe to use???
Fifteen years old? I would ditch them.
The very least that will have happened is that they will have lost their appealing fragrances. Cosmetic companies typically run stability studies for three years, but as it happens I worked for a while in a pharmaceutical company where we did some five year studies on products that were very similar to cosmetics. They might well be safe enough to use if they are preserved using parabens – those things are almost invincible – but many other preservatives degrade steadily over time so there is a good chance they might be contaminated.
If you really want to put them to some kind of use there are a few things you can do with them that doesn’t involve putting them on your body. The shampoos will probably be okay to wash your car with. Don’t try and wash your dishes with them. Shampoos are quite mild and won’t shift the grease. Conditioners will work as fabric conditioners. Use about half the amount of a standard fabric conditioner. (Personally I don’t see much benefit to using fabric conditioner anyway, but obviously plenty of people do given that they sell well.) As for the lotions and the creams, well there isn’t a great deal you can do with them. If readers have any suggestions I am very happy to hear about them.