Do Hair Products Expire – When to Throw Away Hair Products

So, do hair products expire? Every product, from shampoos to conditioners to styling creams, will eventually expire, but don’t feel like you have to toss them out if the expiration date has passed. As a general rule of thumb, hair products with water in them, like shampoos and conditioners, can last about three to six months once you open them, no matter the expiration date.

What is the Shelf Life of Hair Care Products?

Haircare products have the longest shelf life of all beauty products, making them great for stockpiling! But even they have a shelf life. There are a few guidelines you should always follow.

Any product with an oil base will go rancid over time, so you should stick to water, silicone, and alcohol-based products. Vitamins and minerals will break down over time, so you should only purchase small sizes of products with those ingredients and only purchase them every 3-6 months.

Let’s see how long do hair products last in general.

Unopened

Most hair products will keep their full effectiveness for at least 2 years without being opened. However, some of the best products of the line start losing their effectiveness and some of their properties after just a few months. So, it is better to be careful and not buy too much of any one product.

Opened

Hair products, even the best ones, begin to lose their effectiveness after the first use, making them a bit less effective than before. After 6 months, you will notice a real difference.

After 12 months, they will be pretty much useless. If you use them after that, you will just be wasting your money. So, it is best to make sure they are not open for more than 12 months.

Exceptions include leave-in conditioners and hair sprays. These products are usually packed in a way that they do not lose their effectiveness even if you have left them open for a long time.

Find PAO symbol

pao-symbol

Find the PAO symbol on the label. It’s the little open jar symbol that tells you how long the product is good for. Most hair care products have a 2-year shelf life, and you should use them by the end of that time frame.

So how do you find the PAO? Look for it on the back of the product. It’ll be a little squiggle symbol like this:

The time duration in months is indicated in the symbol.

There is no label

If there’s no label on the product, then the product has a shelf life of 1 year.

How to Tell That the Product Has Expired

This section is a guideline for consumers on how to tell whether or not a product has expired.

Appearance

Products that are past their expiration date usually have a yellowish tint. This can usually be seen from the outside of the product and is the most common characteristic of expired products.

Smell

The scent of the product can also be a good indication of whether or not the product has expired. If the product has a rancid or sour scent, it is more than likely expired. If the product has a peculiar scent, it is possible that the product went bad.

Separation

If the contents in the bottle are separated, or if there is a layer of liquid on the surface, then the product is no longer safe to use. This can occur even if the contents have not expired. If there is a layer of liquid on the surface, then you can shake the bottle and see if the liquid mixes with the contents or if the liquid remains on top.

Hair Products Last Longer than Others

Hair products with high oil content, such as pomades and waxes, are typically the longest lasting. Hair gels are the second longest-lasting, but they often flake and cause build-up on the scalp. Hair spray is the least durable, and it can cause build-up as well.

What Happens if You Use Expired Hair Products

Here are some of the effects of using expired hair products.

Your hair color will not hold

When you use expired hair products, your hair color will not hold. This happens because some of the active ingredients in your hair products will start to degrade. Hair colors with a higher pH level are more prone to this.

You will feel itchy

When you use expired hair products, you will feel itchy. The itching usually occurs on your scalp and on the hair follicles. This is because the expired products have a high ammonia content that causes irritation.

Your hair will become brittle

Using expired hair products will cause your hair to become brittle. The products will make your hair dry and break easily. The products usually contain sodium chloride and ammonium chloride as hair-shaping agents. When these chemicals react with the water in your hair, they form sodium carbonate and ammonium carbonate.

How To Store Your Hair And Beauty Products

cream-for-hair

Here are some tips to help your hair care products last longer.

Keep hair care products in a cool, dark place. Avoid direct sunlight, as that can cause the product to break down and lose effectiveness.

If you can, keep them in the original box. Not only does the box provide a sturdy place to store the product, but it also protects it from the elements.

When it comes to hair care products, you have two options: you can either use them up as quickly as possible, or you can buy them in smaller, more frequent amounts. The best way to get the most life out of your hair care products is to keep them closed tightly and in a cool, dry place.

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Final Remark

In summary, the answer to the question of whether hair products expire is yes, they do expire. Hair products do expire, and once they do, you’ll notice that they’ll either start to smell or they’ll start to make your hair look damaged.

If you’ve kept your hair care products in a cool, dark place, then they will most likely last longer, but it’s best if you get into the habit of replacing them every 6 months or so.

Monica Davis

Monica is a professional men and women's hairstylist and a success coach. She started MyStraightener as a personal blog and it has grown into something bigger. You can also find her writing/speaking about new styling tools, hair products, and the latest things in hairdressing on HuffPost, NBC News, Healthline, etc. Learn more about Monica.

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