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Does Hairspray Expire? | Yes, Sort Of

If you love styling your hair on special occasions, we can imagine you need hairspray to hold in the most intricate hairstyles. When you have had hairspray in your bathroom for too long, does it expire?

What Is the Average Lifespan of Hairspray?

There is no expiration date for hairspray, but its effectiveness can decrease the more time it has remained open. Aerosol and non-aerosol hairspray can last about a year and a half or less before effectiveness wears off.

Unopened hairspray can still hold a hairstyle, even if it has remained in your storage cabinet for three years. We will discuss what circumstances cause hairspray to become ineffective, the signs that hairspray is ineffective, precautions to take in excessive temperatures, and proper utilization of the product.

Hairspray is one hair product that sits on some people’s shelves for months on end. Here’s what you need to know about hairspray when you get ready for your next night on the town.

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What Can Make Hairspray Go Bad?

Someone spraying a can of hair spray in a black room

Zyn Chakrapong/Shutterstock

As long as you store your hairspray in normal temperatures, it will not expire. However, what happens if your hairspray gets too cold or too hot, say you placed it in a storage unit or forgot it in your car? Excessive heat or extreme cold are the only ways that hairspray can go bad. 

Excessive Heat

If you leave hairspray in a hot car or storage unit during the summer, watch outside temperatures. If it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, it could rise quickly to 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in a contained space such as a parked car or a non-air-conditioned storage unit. 

Always handle a very hot hairspray can with extreme caution. If exposed to temperatures above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, it could explode from the pressure of the contents inside the aerosol can. 

Extreme Cold

Extreme cold can degrade the contents of the hairspray while also possibly cracking the can if the temperature is very low. Check a hairspray can after it has been left in too cold of conditions. 

If your hairspray gets too cool to the point that the contents freeze, bring the can back to room temperature for at least 24 hours before attempting to use it on your hair. Do not try to use the hairspray when it has been left in temperatures below the freezing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How to Safely Store Hairspray

Since you should not store hairspray in the excessive heat or extreme cold, be sure not to keep them in your car, attic, or storage unit where these dangerous temperatures could be reached during summer or winter time.

The best way to store hairspray is inside a medicine cabinet, underneath your bathroom sink, or on your vanity. It’s safest to store hairspray in your home.

This is because the average temperature inside is between 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range is more than 30 degrees above the freezing point and 42 to 52 degrees below the highest level considered a danger point. 

How to Apply Hairspray to Your Hair

Using hairspray is fun, easy, and effective when utilized correctly. First, style your hair as you desire. Whether you want to straighten it, place it in a bun, or give it bodacious curls, get creative!

Then, grab your favorite can of hairspray and position it at least six inches away from your hair for more efficient application. Move the can around as you spray so that it can hit your hair. 

Once you have applied the hairspray, be sure not to touch your hair with your hands because it can lose the hold that the hairspray’s chemicals have done on it. Instead, freshen up by gently running a comb through your hair. 

Precautions to Take When Applying Hairspray

All hairspray cans state that you should not apply its contents around an open flame. Hence, you should not be attempting to get ready in the morning while cooking your favorite hot breakfast on the gas stove. Make sure that the space in which you are spraying the hairspray has enough ventilation.

The chemicals in the hairspray can take your breath away when in direct contact. If your bathroom does not have a window, have a fan running nearby you or an air conditioner running in the other room to air out the hairspray smell. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Woman covering his face for a piece for a piece on does hairspray expire

Artsiom P/Shutterstock

Now that you know about hairspray cans’ ability to expire and how to store them, you may still have more questions related to hairspray in general. Refer to these frequently asked questions below to learn more.

What happens if the hairspray is dripping liquid?

If hairspray is dripping liquid, that means it is not good and not effective in holding a hairstyle. Hairspray is supposed to come out as mist for it to hold your hairstyle accordingly. 

Liquid coming out of the can after pressing the nozzle shows that the hairspray’s contents are no longer effective. Discard the can according to the package instructions and purchase a new can of your favorite hairspray. 

What happens if the mist dies down while I am spraying hairspray?

Hairspray should come out in a continuous mist when you press the nozzle. Sometimes the mist may stop coming out of the can even in the middle of pressing the nozzle with contents still inside.

If this happens, the valve for turning the hairspray can’s contents from a liquid into a mist is malfunctioning in some way. There is no way to go inside the spray can to fix the valve. Discard the can and purchase a new one.

What would happen to my hair if I used expired hairspray?

Nothing bad would happen to your hair if you use expired hairspray. However, it will not perform its intended functions properly. For example, if the hairspray is supposed to give your hairstyles extra hold, you may see that it is not lasting as long as usual once it expires.

How do I know if the hairspray I have had for a long time still works?

Think back to how long your hairspray would hold your hairstyle in place. Was it for about three to five hours? Say that this time you spray it and your hair starts falling out in one to two hours and you are not even moving around a lot. This means that your hairspray is losing effectiveness.

Can I use a hot hairspray can?

No, you should not attempt to use a hot hairspray can, even if it does not measure 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the hairspray’s contents can expand in excessive heat, it can explode if you try to press the nozzle. Instead, isolate the can and slowly bring down the temperature before trying to use the hairspray.

So, Does Hairspray Expire?

In any event that your hairspray gets too hot or too cold, isolate the can before attempting to use it. If you are opening a new can of spray that’s been sitting in your cabinet for 2-3 years, check for the signs on the can’s contents being bad as explained above.

If none of these signs happen, the hairspray is still effective to use. However, we always suggest using the “18 month rule,” which means buying new hair products no later than 18 months from the date of your original purchase. Happy styling!