Do hair products expire

With dozens of hair products available and a growing number of brands out, you’ve probably bought more than a few. 

Chances are, you have a few sitting on your counter that you haven’t touched in months or even years. 

Now that you’re ready to try them, you’re probably wondering if you still can use them? Do hair products expire?

Well, most hair products do not provide their expiration dates. In fact, specifying expiration dates on cosmetic products isn’t required by law, so determining whether it has gone bad is a major challenge. 

Don’t worry, though! This article will answer that dilemma. 

So read along to know about how long hair products last and when is the right time to toss them in the bin.


How long do hair products expire?

Hair products last longer ​​than other beauty products. 

Unopened products last up to 3 years as long as it’s stored in a dry and cool place. Once opened, the shelf life decreases to 1 year. 


What happens if you use expired hair products?

Accidentally used expired hair products? Shh, don’t panic! 

Turns out, expired hair products do not severely damage the hair and merely lose efficacy

However, you should still be careful. Expired hair products may already be contaminated with bacteria and microorganisms, so watch out for any skin or scalp irritation

Fortunately, the risk of using contaminated hair products is lower than contaminated skincare or makeup products. 


How do you know if a hair product is expired?

How do you know if a hair product is expired

It’s plain and simple — read the expiration date code provided. 

Some hair products provide an expiration date or a Period After Opening (PAO) mark, which indicates how long the product remains fresh after opening. 

However, not all products have these labels. So what should you do then? 

Simply feel and smell the product. The product is likely expired if the texture or color changed or if you smell something funky. 

Hair product expiration date codes

You’ll usually find the PAO mark at the lower back corner of the product. 

It consists of a number and the letter “m”. This indicates how many months the product maintains its quality once opened. 

If the PAO mark says 12m, this means you should use the product within a year after opening.

Now let’s look at each hair care product and if they expire or not.


Hairspray 

Does hair spray expire?

Yes. Hair spray expires. But unlike other hair products, they expire slower since they are in sealed containers.

However, extreme temperatures and water exposure may cause them to degrade sooner than their expiry date.

So make sure you store the product in temperate conditions and tighten the nozzle to prevent water from entering.

How long does hairspray expire?

Most hairsprays do not indicate their expiry date or the Period After Opening (PAO) mark. 

However, unopened non-aerosol or pump hairspray typically lasts up to 3 years. 

But once you break the packaging seal and use them, the shelf life decreases to 18 months or less. This is because air exposure and hand contamination collect bacteria, causing faster expiry. 

But what about aerosol hairspray? 

Okay, first things first — there’s a major difference between aerosol and non-aerosol hairsprays.  

A non-aerosol hairspray comes off as a liquid and delivers mist. Usually packed in a bottle with a pump sprayer, this type of hairspray works best for curly hair since it locks shape and texture.

On the other hand, an aerosol hairspray provides a finer mist. It works best for straight and softer hairstyles, adding the finishing hold. 

And in terms of expiry, aerosol hairspray lasts longer than non-aerosol — unopened aerosol hairspray can last up to 5 years. Once opened, its shelf life decreases. 

How to tell if hairspray is expired?

Simply look and smell for clues! Yep, it’s as easy as that! 

You’ll know it’s expired once the odor changes and it starts losing fragrance. An expired hairspray smells bad and stale. 

Also, an expired hairspray stops working effectively, so it no longer holds the hair.

Hardened polymer residue clogging the spray nozzle is also a sign of expiry. But there are instances wherein the spray nozzle merely becomes defective and not necessarily expired. 

When this happens, simply replace the pump of your non-aerosol hairspray.

However, for aerosols,  discard the product immediately. Never try clearing the blockage on the aerosol valve. Otherwise, you’ll end up hurting yourself. 

Can you use expired hairspray?

Technically speaking, you can use expired hairspray. 

However, it will no longer serve its purpose.

Applying expired hairspray leaves the hair strands sticky and flopping all over the place. Yep, talk about a bad hair day! 


Hair gel 

hair gel

Now, what about hair gels? 

Does hair gel expire?

Yes, they also expire. Although most hair gels do not explicitly provide expiration dates, this hair product lasts for approximately 3 to 5 years, while some are only good for 2 years or less. 

Sealed hair gels last longer than opened ones.

How to tell if hair gel is expired? 

First, check whether the product states the expiration date at the lower back of the bottle. 

If there’s none, look out for any changes in consistency and smell. If there’s an unpleasant smell and if it feels stickier than usual, chances are your hair gel is expired. 

A good hair gel has a semi-thick texture that comes out smoothly out of the bottle. So if it appears like running water, throw them away! A watery hair gel is a sign of expiry. 

Also, changes in texture and consistency could damage the hair gel packaging. So watch out for any dents or leaks on the container. 

Can you use expired hair gel? 

You should not. 

An expired hair gel no longer holds your hair in place and may cause scalp burning and irritation.  So discard them and get a new one right away! 


Hair mousse

Does hair mousse expire?

As mentioned earlier, all hair products expire. So yes, hair mousse does expire. 

Hair mousse generally lasts up to 3 years if stored properly — a sealed hair mousse has a longer shelf life. Once opened, you should use it within 12 to 18 months. 

However, heat and sunlight exposure causes faster expiry. That’s why you should store the product in a cool, dry place.

How to tell if hair mousse is expired? 

Aside from checking the expiration date, you can tell your hair mousse is expired when there are changes in consistency, color, or smell. 

An expired hair mousse smells terrible and looks lumpy. 

Can I use expired hair mousse?

Using expired hair mousse is pointless. Again, expired hair products lose their efficacy. 

Also, applying expired hair mousse damages the hair and burns the scalp. So stay away!


Hair wax

Does hair wax expire?

Well, it depends on the ingredients. Most hair waxes expire within a year from the date of manufacture. It quickly goes bad once opened because of contamination and humid exposure. 

Indeed, hair wax expires quicker than any other hair product. Dipping your fingers into the product makes it more susceptible to bacterial contamination. 

However, those made of beeswax do not expire since it doesn’t go bad. 

Those made of castor or sweet almond oil expires within a year if left unopened, while those with watery substance expire much quicker since water breeds microbial growth.  

How to tell if hair wax is expired?

Check the PAO label on the product. But if there’s none, examine for color, texture, and smell changes. 

Expired hair wax is rancid, less glossy, and unclear.  These observations indicate whether the product is still useable.

What happens if you use expired hair wax?

Expired hair wax no longer holds the hair. So if it is not sticking anymore, the product is likely expired. 

Bacterias in expired hair wax could also promote hair fall, hair damage, itchy scalp, and bacterial infection. So it’s best to throw them away and buy a new one.


Temporary hair color spray 

Hair dyes have different types, and temporary hair color spray is one.

If you love the idea of keeping up with different hair color trends, then this product is best for you! Not to mention, the application only takes a couple of minutes. 

But while the color spray seems great for a fun hair makeover, does this product expire? 

Does temporary hair color spray expire? 

Okay, first things first! A temporary hair color spray is a semi-permanent hair dye, which means it partially penetrates the hair shaft.  

In other words, it only stains the surface of the hair and eventually fades after 4-5 washes. Hence, touching up is necessary from time to time. 

But this does not mean you should buy many because hair color spray does expire. 

These semi-permanent dyes usually last within 3-4 years but may disintegrate quickly when exposed to sunlight and air. 


Hair oil

hair oil

Does hair oil expire? 

Yes, but shelf life depends on the type of hair oil. 

Here’s a list of essential hair oils and their corresponding longevity for your guidance: 

  1. Almond oil -  6 month to 1 year
  2. Avocado oil - 12 months to 18 months
  3. Babassu oil - 2 years at room temperature 
  4. Castor oil - 1 year 
  5. Coconut oil - 2 years
  6. Grapeseed oil - 1 year but may spoil sooner 
  7. Jojoba oil - 5 years
  8. Meadowfoam seed oil - 5 years
  9. Pomegranate seed oil - 1 year 
  10. Rosehip oil - 6 months 
  11. Sea buckthorn seed oil - 1 year 
  12. Sunflower seed oil - 1 year
  13. Tamanu oil - 1-2 years 

Take note that storage conditions may cause sooner spoilage. That’s why, as much as possible, store these products at room temperature and avoid sunlight exposure. 

What happens if you use expired hair oil?

As a general rule, you shouldn’t use expired hair oils

Otherwise, you’ll end up with hair fall, foul-smelling hair, scalp irritation, or, worst, bacterial infections — a total disaster! Yikes! 


Hair serum

What happens if you use expired hair serum?

Hair serum offers ​​works wonders in promoting healthier and shinier hair. It smoothens hair, controls frizz, and repairs hair damage.

But the question is, what happens if you use expired hair serum?

Well, using an expired hair serum is not harmless at all.

However, expired hair serum, like other hair products, loses efficacy. So save yourself from applying them and buy a new one instead. 

CHECK OUT: Does hair dye expire?


The takeaway

Although hair products last longer than other beauty products, you should still be wary of using them. 

Most hair products do not state their expiration date. So always examine them beforehand and look out for any changes in texture, color, or smell. Check also for molds or cloudiness. 

If you see something unusual, immediately throw them away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry! 

And while expired products are not necessarily harmful, including them in your hair regimen will still be pointless since they no longer serve their functions. 

So a piece of advice — track expiry by creating an inventory of your hair products. With a list in hand, you’ll know when it’s time to restock.

Last Updated: March 13, 2022

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