How Long Does CBD Cream Last? – Shelf Life Explained

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You may be surprised to learn that, like other products, CBD cream and other topicals can go bad over time. But how do you know when it’s time to dispose of it?

The shelf life of most CBD creams is usually about 12 to 24 months, though there are some factors that can influence just how long your product stays good for. In general, though, proper storage techniques should allow you to keep your product around and functional for upwards of a year or two.

Understanding how to store your product, what to look for in terms of degradation and change, and what to do when you believe it’s gone bad can save you a lot of time and stress. So, let’s take a deeper dive into just why CBD cream expires and what you can do to slow down this process.

What Is the Shelf Life of CBD Cream?

Typically, CBD topicals (including CBD cream) have a shelf life of about a year or two, or around 12 to 24 months. There are numerous factors that can impact just how long an individual CBD cream product will last, many of which have to do with how the product has been developed.

CBD creams made with lots of additives, for instance, might have a slightly shorter shelf life than average – not because the CBD itself is somehow going bad faster, but because the presence of other ingredients that can also go bad increases the likelihood of premature changes to the quality of your product.

Likewise, a CBD cream formulated with higher amounts of CBD may maintain its potency for longer than one that’s weaker, even if it’s beginning to discolor, change in texture, etc.

How Long Does CBD Cream Stay Good After Opening?

After opening a CBD cream product, it’s best to try to use it within a year or two; after that, it may begin to degrade, lose its potency, and look or smell unpleasant. 

Exposure to air can certainly speed up the rate at which a CBD product deteriorates, but proper storage techniques can help you minimize the chances of this happening.

Keeping your cream shut tight when you’re not using it, for example, makes it easier to limit how much time your cream spends vulnerable to air and other potentially destructive elements. 

As mentioned before, other ingredients in your product aside from CBD may be susceptible to degradation and change over time, and this continues to be true after you’ve opened up your product.

For the best results, store your product mindfully and properly, and always be aware of how long it’s been since you’ve opened and began using your product. 

Though topical CBD might not pose as many side effects as other CBD products, using it after its past its prime can still feel like a real waste of time, effort, and money.

How to Tell If CBD Cream is Expired?

The best and easiest way to tell if your CBD cream is expired (or is on its way out) is to look for a few things:

  1. Texture (thickness, runniness, etc.): Cream that’s gone bad may experience textural changes as a result. Your product may seem more liquidy than usual or begin to separate, among other things.

  2. Appearance (color): Discoloration is one of the biggest giveaways in terms of expiration and degradation; if your product’s color begins to change or fade, it’s likely it’s time to buy a new one.

  3. Smell: It’s normal for your CBD cream to have a characteristic scent to it, but if this odor changes or gets stronger, it may be a sign your cream is going bad.

Keeping an eye out for these sorts of changes makes it easy to spot when your product is beginning to lose its potency. 

In general, any sort of sudden switch in your cream is likely a sign that you might want to move on; your product’s look, feel, and smell should be consistent, and if it’s not, it’s not something you want to be using.

What Happens if You Use Expired CBD Cream?

Using CBD cream that’s gone bad won’t necessarily make you sick or cause negative side effects, but it won’t deliver the results you expect from your product. Applying expired CBD cream is just about as effective as applying a moisturizer or lotion; it won’t really tackle chronic pain or inflammation.

Because topical CBD does not enter the bloodstream, it’s not able to produce the same full-body and mind effects that CBD that’s orally ingested or inhaled can. Instead, topical CBD does its job by binding with endocannabinoid receptors on the skin rather than inside the body.

Binding with these receptors allows CBD cream to do some things–like limit inflammation in the joints, for instance, and lower swelling–but not everything. Topical CBD will only really work therapeutically for the local area you apply it to.

That said, it’s not hard to see why expired CBD cream isn’t quite as potentially problematic as other expired CBD products. However, as mentioned, just because it won’t cause harm doesn’t mean using cream that’s gone bad is something you’ll want to do.

Does CBD Cream Lose Potency Over Time?

CBD cream can and does lose its potency over time; once it’s reaching the end of its shelf life, it won’t be able to deliver the same results as it did in the past. 

All CBD is susceptible to degradation, regardless of whether it’s been added to a product like a cream or not. As an organic molecule (meaning it’s made up primarily of carbon, which can easily bond and interact with many other elements), CBD is naturally predisposed to go bad. 

In other words, there’s not really a way to get around the fact that CBD can expire.

What you can get around, though, is just how fast this occurs. Remember, storing your CBD cream properly can help you extend its shelf life for as long as possible and avoid potential damage to your product.

Mans hand reaching into a jar of 1:3 CBD to THC relief cream.

Does Hemp Cream Go Bad?

Hemp cream, unlike CBD cream, does not contain significant amounts of cannabinoids, so it’s unlikely to experience degradation in the same way. Instead, it might begin to “go bad” because ingredients in the product itself are beginning to expire; a carrier cream made from oils and artificial scent boosters, for instance, might begin to separate or break down over time.

It’s important to note the difference between hemp cream and CBD cream, especially because CBD sold commercially does indeed come from hemp plants. 

Hemp cream, depending on the product, is usually made from parts of the hemp plant that don’t contain a significant amount of cannabinoids, like the seeds.

Some hemp creams may be made using hemp flower, but if it’s being sold as a “hemp cream” rather than “CBD hemp cream,” you can expect that only small amounts of CBD will be present in the product. As a result, hemp cream may not be the way to go if you’re committed to using CBD.

Wrapping Up

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and CBD cream is no exception to this rule. Though it may be protected from damage and exposure more so than other product types by nature (as it’s packaged in an air-tight container in most cases), CBD cream can and does still go bad over time.

No need to fret, though – simply being aware of this reality is likely enough to help you avoid using a product that’s past its prime in the future. 

Be sure to keep an eye on your product over time and monitor it for any noticeable changes in the way it looks, feels, or smells. It can also be beneficial to look out for any sort of information on your product’s packaging regarding shelf life or storage instructions.

If you keep your product tightly sealed and store it in a cool, dry place, you should be able to extend its shelf life to the max. You may be able to reap the benefits of your cream for a good few years with proper storage practices!

As always, it’s essential to be sure that the products you’re purchasing are as high in quality as you expect and deserve. The best way to do that is to shop with reputable sellers who have proven their dedication to CBD products.

For a list of company recommendations, product reviews, and other helpful information, be sure to visit our directory. Our job is to make the wild world of CBD more digestible and accessible so that you don’t have to.

Josh Murdoch

Josh Murdoch

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although it is incurable, CBD and THC have been allowing me to live my life as a healthy adult now for years. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my career to spreading the good news about cannabinoids. Currently, I work for a vertically integrated cannabis company called Unrivaled Brands that operates in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Previously, I worked on two cannabis farms in northern California, one of which was located in the famous Humboldt County. I’ve also managed a medical cannabis delivery service in Marin County, California. I created CBD Facilitator to share what I’ve learned, and to recommend the best products that I have found in this chaotic market.

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