Does Shea Butter Go Bad?

Does shea butter go bad?

People having so many different skin issues have made some look for a direct natural alternative to help relieve them. And one natural ingredient that immediately pops to mind is shea butter! The natural goodness of shea butter benefits your skin greatly, especially sensitive skin. But there might be some problems that you haven’t quite realized with raw shea butter.

So, does shea butter go bad? Shea butter is a natural skin remedy that comes in raw, refined, or unrefined form. In general, raw shea butter does not last that long while refined shea butter lasts for 37 months starting from the packaging time. In this article, we have shared tips to extend the shelf life and store it better. This may help you extend the shelf life of your shea butter and enjoy the benefits.

Does Shea Butter Expire?

Does Shea butter expire?
Does Shea butter expire?

Shea butter is a natural fat that is extracted from the African Shea tree. This is a popular ingredient used in skincare and beauty. For centuries, this has been used as a healing balm and its popularity is increasing day by day. This is used as a rich moisturizer to treat skin conditions like eczema, dryness, and psoriasis. It is found in different forms including raw, refined, or unrefined forms.

As shea butter is made with natural ingredients, shea butter goes bad over time. Shea butter contains fats and oils and as a result, it can go rancid when exposed to air, moisture, or light. It also depends on how well it is stored. Everything has an expiration date and shea butter will also expire one day. Compared to refined shea butter, raw shea butter has a shorter life because of the lack of chemical preservatives.

Shea Butter Shelf Life vs. Going Bad

Shea butter shelf life vs. Going bad
Shea butter shelf life vs. Going bad

Think of shelf life as the time that you would expect the shea butter to go bad. The shelf life of shea butter If you have already opened the jar and using small amounts each week, then the chances of going bad increase because bacteria have more time and opportunity to grow inside. Storage and temperature are two important determinants to control the shelf life of shea butter. The shelf life also differs from brand to brand.

Starting from the packaging time, the raw shea butter can last for 24 months and the refined shea butter can last for 37 months or more than that. The expiration of shea butter depends on how you are storing this. It also depends on how frequently you are using the jar or pot. But there is a subtle difference between shea butter shelf life and it going bad.

It is recommended to use the shea butter within six months after purchase. The refined shea butter lasts more than the unrefined shea butter. This lasts up to two years without any noticeable changes. Unrefined shea butter, on the other hand, is natural and contains no preservatives. So, it can last less than the refined one.

How to Tell If Shea Butter Has Gone Bad?

Shea butter can go bad like the other products. Some symptoms may help you to identify whether shea butter has gone bad or not.

How to tell Shea butter has gone bad?
How to tell Shea butter has gone bad?

1. A Rancid Odor or Off smell

Smelling the shea butter is the best way to know whether it has expired or not. Shea butter generally has a Smokey and nutty smell. If you mix shea butter with coconut oil or olive oil, this may smell like stale food. If your shea butter contains no extra components, it will smell like old car oil when it goes bad. If you are experiencing any shea butter that smells foul, it is time to say goodbye and replace your shea butter.

2. Discoloration

Check if there are any dark spots on your shea butter. The dark spots will make it look bad and it is the first sign that the shea butter is going to be expired.

3. Texture

Check the texture of the shea butter to know if it has gone bad. If it is gradually turning to liquid, then it is time for you to replace your shea butter.

4. Leaking Containers

To know about your shea butter’s condition, check if there are any leaks in the container. If you find any leaks, change the container.

7 Tips to Extend the Shelf Life of Shea Butter

You can only prolong the expiration date but not entirely save it from expiring. Here are a few tips to increase the shelf life of shea butter:

7 tips to extend the shelf life of shea butter
7 tips to extend the shelf life of shea butter

1. Keep Shea Butter in a Cool Place

It is very important to keep the shea butter in a cool and dark place away from sunlight. This will prevent oxidation due to heat or light exposure.  You can also use UV jars for extra protection to save your shea butter. Because, once it is oxidized, the vitamins and fatty acids will be lost forever. Secure it in a cool place. A refrigerator is a perfect place to keep shea butter and prevent it from melting. Excessive heat is also another reason why the shea butter expires faster.

2. Do Not Let Moisture Get into the Container

Make sure that your container is sealed properly and that no oxygen gets into it. It can speed up spoilage due to oxidation. Do not let the moisture get into the container because it can cause mold growth.

3. Don’t Touch It with Dirty Hands

Before touching the shea butte, wash your hands with good soap to make sure it is free from all germs and bacteria. Be cautious while cooking or baking shea butter because it can cultivate bacteria in shea butter and the shea butter can expire in no time.

4. Using Preservatives

Using preservatives is another effective way to increase the longevity or shelf life of shea butter. Preservatives such as vitamin E oil can help slow down deterioration caused by environmental factors like oxygen, heat, and light over time.

5. Secure Shea Butter in Original Packaging

If you want to preserve shea butter for longer, leave it in the original packaging. Because the original packaging was designed in a way to preserve it for longer.

6. Avoid Touching with Wet Hands

Many people apply shea butter directly on the face and body after a shower. This helps them to moisturize their skin. It is recommended not to touch shea butter with wet hands because it may carry bacteria and spoil the shea butter.

7. Buy High-Quality Shea Butter

The shelf life of shea butter may also vary from brand to brand. High-quality shea butter is sourced in good places while bad-quality may lead to product expiration. So, it is very important to buy authentic and well-preserved shea butter.

What to Do with Expired Shea Butter?

When the shea butter has gone bad, it comes, it comes with an unpleasant odor. Here are some ways to fix the rancid shea butter:

  • When it is rancid, you can create soap by using the saponification method. The saponification method helps to produce soap and alcohol.
  • Add two tablespoons of lotion to your shea butter and let it sit for 24 hours. Re-label the jar to keep things clean and organized.
  • You can also fix it in another way. Warm it in low heat and then cool it. After that, store it in a freeze and you will get a nice smell instead of the rancid smell.

How to Store Shea Butter?

How to store Shea butter?
How to store Shea butter?

Storing shea butter is very important to extend the shelf life. You should keep it in a moderate and dry environment to prevent it from spoiling. Keep it away from light and heat because it starts to oxidize when exposed to air, heat, or light. Here are some tips to store your shea butter and make it last longer:

Select raw shea butter from the store. Store in a dry, cool, and dark place to avoid exposure to direct sunlight or heat. Keep it in a jar with a tight lid or use a UV glass jar. The container can be made of plastic or glass but it should be airtight. Some store their shea butter in the fridge which is not necessary. Keeping it in the fridge can make it hard and clumpy. So, try to keep it at room temperature. Shea butter should be stored at less than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Because, if the temperature is more than this, it will start to melt and affect the quality of shea butter and its shelf life.


1. What color should real shea butter be?

The raw, unrefined, and 100% natural shea butter should be pale yellow. During the refining process, the color changes to white. The exposure to heat makes it lose its color. The color also changes when the shea butter expires.

2. Does shea butter lighten skin?

Yes, shea butter contains skin-lightening effects. The active ingredients in shea butter including vitamins A and E reduce the appearance of dark spots and improve the overall complexion. This is how shea butter lightens the skin.

3. Can I apply shea butter on my face?

Shea butter can be applied directly to your face before you go to sleep. You can also apply this in the morning but it may take some time to get used to. The fatty acids and oils that exist in this butter make it difficult to apply makeup or other products to your skin.

4. What are the side effects of shea butter?

Shea butter contains natural latex that may trigger reactions in people with allergies. In sensitive skin, people can have an allergic reaction when using shea butter. The creamy and oily consistency can also create acne breakouts on the skin.

5. Should I use shea butter every day?

Experts have recommended not to use unrefined shea butter daily on the skin. But, people who are getting benefits with their rough skin patches and other issues, can use the refined shea butter every day to get benefits on their skin.

Final Thoughts

Shea butter is a natural ingredient used in skincare and beauty. This is a healing balm and rich moisturizer to treat different skin issues like dryness, psoriasis, or eczema. Like the other products, shea butter can also go bad. The shelf life of shea butter depends on factors like quality of shea butter, freshness, or how it is stored. In general, the shea butter can last up to two years from the date of packaging. Unrefined shea butter does not last long as it does not contain any preservatives. When the shea butter expires, a rancid smell will come from the butter and it will be discolored. You cannot save shea butter or anything from getting bad but you may follow some tips to prolong the expiration. Keep the shea butter in a cool and dry place and do not let it oxidize because oxidization will affect the shelf life of shea butter. When your shea butter has already gone bad, you can fix the rancid shea butter and use it differently.

Key Points

  • Shea butter is an excellent emollient that hydrates and creates a barrier that locks the moisture of the skin.
  • The raw shea butter can last for 24 months starting from the date of packaging and the refined shea butter can last for 37 months or more than that.
  • The quality of shea butter, storage, temperature, and freshness all are important determinants of the shelf life of shea butter.
  • Store it in a cool and dry place and follow the other tips to extend the shelf life of shea butter.
  • When the shea butter has already expired, you can use it as a soap or use it in other ways.
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