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Do Hair Products Expire? | & What to Watch Out For

We all know that foodstuffs and other items have a shelf life, but do hair products expire? Check out this post to learn more about the expiry and shelf life of hair products.

What Is the Expiry Date for Hair Products?

Once opened, many hair products will expire in one or two years. However, other variables could prolong or shorten the shelf life of your hair product.

These variables include exposure to weather elements, humidity or water, contamination, etc. Currently, no legislation demands hair products to indicate an expiry date on their packages. It’s common for people to assume that hair products don’t expire while they do expire.

If you keep a sealed hair product in a cool, dark area for about three years, it will probably be safe for use. Although it’s unlikely to stockpile your hair products for this long, knowing when their shelf-life elapses is important to ensure you don’t use a spoiled product.

Natural hair care products have a more limited shelf life because of the natural fragrances and ingredients. This expiry period reduces to about a year after you unseal your product or expose it to air, heat, human contact, and light.

You’ll need to maximize using your product during its useful timeframe. Else, you’ll have to dispose of it once this period passes. So, now that you know that your hair products will expire at some point, here are some burning questions we would like to address:

  • How can you tell that your hair product is expired?
  • How can you prolong the shelf life of your hair products?
  • What are the frequently asked questions?

Continue reading to learn more!

Read Next: Does Shampoo Have an Expiration Date?

How to Tell That a Hair Product Is Expired

Pao label icons in various colors and shades for a piece on do hair products expire

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Most people have partially-full conditioner, dye, or even shampoo bottles in their bathrooms, making it difficult to recall all their expiration dates. If you’d like to use a hair product that you haven’t used for some time, here’s how to tell whether the product has expired or is still safe.

It Shows on the Packaging

Most people fail to check the expiration dates on their hair products. While it’s routine to check the expiration dates of the products you consume, there’s usually some false perception that hair products are still viable.

Unfortunately, this isn’t usually true. Some hair products, especially those with natural or all-organic ingredients, have a limited shelf life. Always take time to verify the expiration date of your product by examining the time stamps on the container.

You Notice an Unusual Texture

One warning sign that your hair product has expired is that its constituents begin separating. You may observe that a greasy liquid separates from your hair conditioner, dye, or shampoo. 

This occurs because, with time, bacterial growth begins to rip the mixture apart; hence, the ingredients are no longer held together. Occasionally, it can become watery and runny.

Your Product Is Clumpy

Like separation, clumping indicates that your product has degraded and become stale. Conditioners, masks, or shampoos develop small clumps once they expire, becoming rough and not-so-gentle to use. Undoubtedly, liquid products will harden slightly once the temperature drops.

However, clumping from the degradation of the product’s ingredients is unlike what you’ll experience with freezing temperatures. Its clusters feel and appear denser and can sometimes exhibit blackness and discoloration.

Your Product Has an Odd Color

Don’t use your hair product if it shows a greenish, unnatural hue. This color shift is often a sign of mold or segregation. Whatever the case, this should warn you that your product is expired and you should discard it.

But, give it a good shake if you’ve just recently purchased the product and it’s within the specified expiration date and shelf life. Occasionally, heat could trigger separation. Nevertheless, don’t use the product again if this hue doesn’t fade away.

It Has an Odd Smell

Hair products generally have floral and/or fruity aromas. If your hair product has a different, often unpleasant smell compared to when you initially purchased it, it’s probably expired.

As with food, a foul smell is the first clue that your product is spoiled. If you sense a foul smell from your product, no matter how faint, you should counter-check it for other expiration signs.

Your Product Isn’t as Effective as Before

People often overlook hair products’ expiration dates and continue using them. But, if you observe that your product isn’t as effective as before, it’s probably expired. Any haircare product is only effective if its ingredients hold together well.

After the predetermined period, these ingredients lose their ‘bond’ and effectiveness. Re-check the packaging for any guidelines on the expiry date. If not available, don’t take the gamble and discard the product.

Your Product Unexpectedly Causes Itching

Itching could be difficult to identify since if you’ve relied on a product for a long time, you probably don’t expect it to fail. If you experience unusual itching while or after using your hair product, you should reassess it. Once a product expires, a shift in its composition may cause itching.

How to Prolong the Shelf Life of Hair Products

Just as with other products, if you’d like to extend the shelf life of your hair products, you’ll need to handle them with care. In this section, we’ll look at some of the best storage tips for hair products at home.

Don’t Dilute Your Products

Avoid diluting your hair products. Water introduces microorganisms to your product that drastically reduce its shelf life. This perhaps explains why oil-based hair supplies often have a long shelf life.

Choose distilled water if you cannot avoid diluting your product. But whether distilled or not, so long as your hair product is diluted, you’ll probably want a preservative, such as potassium sorbate, to prevent the growth of microorganisms.

Avoid Contaminating Your Product

Before working with your hair products, clean your hands well. Sterilize all surfaces and tools you’ll use to avoid exposing your product to contamination. If germs enter your product, it’s likely to expire quickly.

Keep Your Products Away From Direct Sunlight

Store your products in a dark container to protect them from deterioration caused by oxidation. If possible, store your products in a container made of UV-resistant glass to protect the products from harmful light rays; glass is also easy to disinfect.

Keep your products in a cool, dark location. Most people store their products in the bathroom, which should not be the case as they are prone to becoming damp and warm once you shower.

Keep Your Products in a Freezer

If you’re not using preservatives, keeping your hair supplies in the refrigerator is the quickest, easiest, and safest approach to extend their shelf life. You can consider buying a mini-fridge for storing your hair products.

Use Natural Preservatives

Homemade hair care preservatives often don’t last long. Besides, they’re time-consuming to make, so you cannot prepare a new product when needed. Therefore, it’s necessary to employ natural preservatives such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate to extend their shelf life.

Other natural preservatives that you can consider are essential oils like rosemary, grapefruit seed oil, and antioxidant-rich oils like Vitamin E and Jojoba. Thanks to their organic nature, these preservatives are non-irritating and gentle.

Frequently Asked Questions

As with anything, the best way to learn about hair product expirations is to see the questions real people are asking. Fortunately for you, we’ve rounded up some of the most frequently asked questions below.

What happens if I use an expired hair product?

You might not achieve the desired effects if you apply expired hair products. The product won’t function as effectively as it could when fresh and occasionally could cause hair damage. You might also suffer negative effects like redness, itchiness on the scalp, or hair loss.

Can hair conditioner and shampoo freeze?

Yes, your hair conditioners and shampoos can freeze as they contain about 80% water. The freezing point is around 26 degrees F. Once they defrost, these products are safe for use; broken containers are the only potential hazard to be aware of.

Does hair bleach have a shelf-life?

Hair bleach has a lengthy shelf life, but this doesn’t imply that these products cannot expire. Unopened hair bleach can last up to three years and still be safe for use. However, once you unseal the bottle, it can only last for another six months before going bad.

Can hair products withstand high temperatures?

The commonly-used hair products, conditioners, and shampoos are heat-resistant and won’t become hazardous. Nonetheless, the product’s components may begin to separate into solids and liquids because the bonds holding the compounds together may break.

Can expired hair care products cause hair loss?

Obsolete hair products can irritate the skin or cause itching scalp or face because of chemical shifts and allergens. You might also develop a scalp infection in extreme situations based on the bacteria’s aggressiveness. Such infections could result in uneven hair loss or ugly wounds.

So, What Is the Expiry Date for Hair Products?

Ultimately, hair products have different shelf lives as numerous factors come into play. These factors range from the product’s ingredients to environmental exposure, contamination, and heat exposure.

You should expect an unopened hair product to last for around three years, but the period will be much shorter if you’ve already unsealed your product.