Do Shampoo And Conditioner Expire? How Long Does It Last?

Period-After-Opening Symbol

Do shampoo and conditioner expire? If you go through a bottle of shampoo pretty slowly or like to stockpile shampoo and conditioner in your house, it is fair to ask this question. 

Since these hair care products contain chemicals, they should have a limited shelf life. And it means you can’t keep using them forever without any repercussions, you might suppose. Here is the answer!

Do Shampoo And Conditioner Expire?

You can notice that many shampoos and conditioners do not have expiration dates in the packaging or bottles. So, does shampoo or conditioner go bad? Do shampoo and conditioners have an expiration date?

Yes, they do expire.

Over time, the ingredients in these products start to lose their effectiveness. Also, right from the moment you open the bottle, oxygen, and bacteria find their way into the formula and compromise its performance. 

Shampoo And Conditioner Expire
Do Shampoo And Conditioner Expire?

How Long Do Shampoo & Conditioner Last? 

In general, the estimated shelf life of shampoos and conditioners is greater than other cosmetic products. 

If stored properly, an unopened bottle of shampoo or conditioner can last up to 3 years. Meanwhile, an opened bottle can be good for 12-18 months.

In addition to expiration dates, shampoos and conditioners often come with a PAO (period after opening), which indicates the estimated date you should use the bottles after they have been opened. This figure is usually printed on the back of the bottle in the image of an opened jar. 

Period-After-Opening Symbol
Period-After-Opening Symbol

How to read shampoo expiration dates?

The number inside the jar is most likely 12 M, 18 M, or 24 M (M stands for months), and the product is good to use within the period shown by this shampoo expiration date code. 

However, how to know when shampoo and conditioner expire if there’s no labeling found?

The general rule of thumb is to keep the bottle no more than 18 months after it is opened. In addition, you may want to keep an eye on telltale signs of an expired product.  

How To Tell Your Shampoo And Conditioner Expired? 

The Expiration On The Packaging

The fastest way to check the usability of your hair care products is to look at the expiration date. However, as mentioned, this figure is not required to be placed on the packaging of these cosmetic products, so you might not find it on your bottle. 

Otherwise, you can check the PAO label on the bottle and only use your bottle within the time frame.

It’s worth noting that organic shampoos or 100% naturally derived products have a shorter shelf life since they are no additives or preservatives as regular products. It means you should keep a sharp eye out on them. 

All-Natural Or Organic Products Have A Shorter Shelf Life
All-Natural Or Organic Products Have A Shorter Shelf Life

The Color Has Changed

It’s crucial to pay attention to the way your shampoos or conditioners normally smell or look.

A good telltale sign is that their colors are different from the first time you opened the bottles. If the shampoo looks weirdly colored where it did not before, you should not keep using it. 

Smell Differently

Once you spurt some shampoo into your hands, and there’s not a nice smell that you’re familiar with but something peculiar, the time of use is over. 

The smell might be quite odd or even rancid, and we bet you don’t want to wash your hair with such an odious shampoo. Your shampoo usually already expired well before the smell appeared, so smell is the clear sign that you should junk the bottle. 

Physical Change

  • The shampoo might start to thicken or become clumpy. Shampoo within it by use date should glide smoothly on your palms and do not form lumps. 
  • The emulsifier might be no longer active, and the product can separate into layers.
  • The shampoo or conditioner might become runny and watery. It is because the proteins that give it a rich texture have broken down over time. 
  • After being exposed to the heat change, the product can be gummy or oily. 
  • It might leave a stickier feeling than usual.

Less Foaming

Take some shampoo and add water to your hands, and you might see shampoo does not lather up anymore.

It is a clear sign that your shampoo has expired.

Cause Irritation

When the conditioner or shampoo expires, the chemical contents change in some ways and might cause itch and irritation to your scalp. 

Thus, when you experience mild to nasty itch or irritation and can’t find the root cause for your symptoms, it’s worth checking if your shampoo has expired.

Cause Irritation
Expired Shampoo Might Cause Itchy Scalp

No Effect As It Once Did

The ingredients in expired shampoo lose their effectiveness over time.

When your shampoo goes bad, it won’t likely damage the hair or its color. However, the change in the chemical formulation can react to the chemicals in the dyed hair. 

Is It Safe To Use Expired Shampoo Or Conditioner?

Of course, you don’t want to wash your hair with a shampoo that has a foul smell or a strange consistency. However, as mentioned, any of these indicators show up after the shampoo has gone bad. 

But is it ok to use expired shampoo and conditioner if they still look and smell normal? The expiration date tells users that shampoo and conditioner work at their best within the given time frame. 

After the expiration date is over, these products cannot guarantee the same performance and consistency. However, it does not mean that they are unsafe to use. 

These hair care products are basically chemicals. They change and become ineffective over time.

In the worst-case scenario, when the texture, smell, and color are not the same as before, expired shampoo and conditioner can damage your hair and scalp.

What Happens If You Use Expired Shampoo Or Conditioner? 

Won’t Bring The Intended Result

When a conditioner or shampoo passes its use-by date, at the very least, it does not perform as it’s supposed to.

For example, a de-frizzing shampoo will do nothing to fix the frizzies, or the product won’t give you the moisture or remove dandruff as it should. 

Dry Your Hair

Also, expired shampoo might not clean as well as before. It can dry out your scalp and hair and make your hair look dull. 

Dry Your Hair
Dry, Dull Hair Resulting From Expired Shampoo

Cause Hair Loss

If you’re wondering, can expired shampoo cause hair loss? Technically yes, but it is very unlikely. The shampoo should be left for a long time and crawling with bacteria. 

Also, hair loss happens if you use it after an extended period. This issue is not something you should worry about as such shampoo will show apparent signs like noxious odor or off-color and texture. 

Increase The Risk Of Infection 

Expired shampoo or conditioner might look perfectly fine but is laden with bacteria, fungi, or molds.

Using it means you’re introducing them into your scalp and might end up with irritation and scalp infection. 

What To Affect The Lifespan Of Your Shampoo And Conditioner?

Storage Conditions

Regular shampoos contain preservatives to have a longer shelf life. When stored at a high temperature, the preservatives become less effective over time. 

Therefore, you may want to keep the shampoo from high temperatures and direct sunlight, best it in a dark, cool place such as bathroom cabinets so it can last longer. 

Storage Conditions
Avoid Exposing Your Conditioner Or Shampoo To Direct Sunlight

Compositions

All-natural or organic shampoos and conditioners have no preservatives, so they expire sooner than regular products.

It is advisable to use them quickly or buy in small volumes to make sure you use them up before they reach the expiration date. 

Authenticity

Counterfeit shampoos are prevalent and look like real products, so there is a chance that you’re purchasing them without knowing. 

These products do not contain the same ingredients as the authentic version and are produced under questionable conditions. Even worse, they are just expired shampoos with newer bottles. 

Fake shampoos are dangerous to use and expire very soon. We recommend buying directly from manufacturers (if possible) or reputable sellers. 

Handling And Contamination

Like any cosmetic product, shampoos can be contaminated with bacteria, especially with careless handling. 

When you extract shampoo by hands or fingers, you’re making way for bacteria and fungi into the bottle. Oxygen and water droplets also hurt your shampoo and shorten its lifespan. 

Handling And Contamination
Avoid Using Hands Or Fingers To Extract Your Shampoo

Therefore, you should purchase shampoos in tubes or spray containers so you won’t need to draw out the shampoo by hand. For containers, make sure you close the lid immediately and tightly once you’ve got enough shampoo. 

Unexpected Uses Of Expired Shampoo And Conditioner

Shampoo and conditioner are not useless past their expiry dates, you can use them in several ways:

  • Use expired shampoo to clean bathroom floors, kitchen tiles, and shower curtains.
  • Because detergents in shampoos are not very reactive, you can use them to clean jewelry and silverware.
  • A conditioner can be used as a lubricant for zippers, door hinges, etc.
  • Conditioners can replace body shaving cream. They provide a cushion for the blade to glide and moisture for your skin. 
  • Use shampoo to create a soapy solution. Then, soak your hands and feet before doing a manicure and pedicure.
  • Expired shampoo can clean your pets just as well as their usual pet shampoos.

Final Thoughts

We hope now you get the answer to, “Do shampoo and conditioner expire?”.

Check out the PAO label if you have left your conditioner or shampoo sitting for quite a while or experienced any of the mentioned hair issues. 

Conditioner or shampoo that has just expired might not show any physical changes, but the one that has gone bad for a long time will feel, smell, look, and perform differently. 

There’s no point in using expired products for your hair. However, you can choose to toss them or use them to clean bathrooms, carpets, or floor mats. 

Edna

I’m Edna. I'm here to guide you about hair products and maintenance tips. You'll fine here product reviews regarding hair tools, hair color, hair care and more along with tips to keep your hair healthy!

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