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Does Hair Dye Expire?

Does Hair Dye Expire?

I know how tempting it is to stockpile your favorite hair dye when it’s on sale. But is that a smart thing to do? What is the maximum shelf life of hair dye? Does hair dye expire? It is hard to say since many manufacturers do not print the date on the package.


Well, mostly due to the belief that adequately stored hair day can last for a long, very long period of time. But I am not very supportive of this idea. What frightens me the most is that no law obliges manufacturers to print the expiration date, so many people believe that hair dye lasts forever.

However, almost all manufacturers will provide you with the product date if you tell them the batch’s exact number.

So let’s go straight to the point and find out how long you can store hair dye at your home.

How Long Can Hair Dye Last?

Lav Does Hair Dye Expire

This first mainly depends on if the hair dye was opened or not. The second thing is that brand and ingredients as well play a prominent role in shelf life

Professional brands will always last longer than drugstore brands. In case you use organic hair dye, you can be sure that this product won’t be able to sit long in your storage due to a lack of chemicals.

So this means that with proper storage conditions, an opened hair dye can last from 1-2 years. 

On the other hand, while a sealed hair dye can last up to 3 years or even longer.

But what exactly are proper storage conditions? Well, here I refer to the climate of the space where you keep the hair dye. Make sure to keep your hair dye in a cool, dark space with no humidity exposure.

I must note that these timelines apply to unmixed chemicals. After you mix the hair dye with chemicals together, there is no turning back; any leftovers must be thrown away.

How The Environment Affects Hair Dye?

Keep in mind that environmental factors have a lot to do with how long your hair dye will stay in good condition. For example, if you keep the hair dye in direct sunlight or in space with a warm climate, there are high chances of unwanted chemical reactions.

When hair dye is exposed to heat, in most cases, it will separate. This way, the hair dye becomes unusable quickly.

Leaving the hair dye open or exposed to water will cause oxidation, which as well makes the dye completely useless. When you do not seal the hair dye properly, a reaction-causing bacteria can occur as well and spoil the hair dye completely.

No matter the brand and quality, any hair dye, if stored in imperfect conditions, will deteriorate sooner than you think, so it would be smart to learn how to recognize signs of expired hair dye.

What Are Clear Signs Of Expired Hair Dye?

In case you found a hair dye, but you are not sure if it has been six months, a year, or even longer since you purchased it, there are ways to check if it is still usable or not. 

First, you can examine the packaging and see if there is an expiration date labeled. If not, the next step is to examine the materials inside to determine if they are safe to use.

Most common signs of expired hair dye include:

  • Package damage – First thing you should always check is if the package is damaged. If you notice any changes on the package, like swelling, you can be sure that hair dye has expired. If the hair dye you use comes in a hard box container and appears dented, the materials inside might be compromised, and we all know what that means.

If you see wet spots on the box, it means that the dye has come into the previous contact with water or maybe that the chemicals have leaked out into the packaging. If the bottle of hair dye looks lumpy or it looks swollen, the oxidation process has already begun.

  • Leaking fluid – There is no more visible sign of expiration than the leaking fluid. If a clear, watery fluid leaks out of the pack just right after you opened it, you should throw the hair dye immediately. Also, pay attention to the area around the cap; you will notice yellow, red, or orange circles, which indicates that the chemicals inside are a goner. 
  • Separation – If there is no fluid leakage at first, that does not mean your hair dye is safe to use. The next thing to check up on is separation. You must gently open the package, then slowly tilt it like you want to pour it out, and if milky, almost transparent fluid pours out, it means your dye has been separated in pieces. Do not try to shake it to combine it; it won’t work if the hair dye is expired.
  • Unpleasant odor – Expired dye smells nasty too, believe me, there is no need to put your nose too close to the container to check this one out. Of course, hair dye never smells nice, but if it smells metallic when you open it, it is time to say goodbye.
  • Color test – If you want to make sure your hair dye is still okay to use, try mixing it up in a small amount. Mix according to instructions and see what will happen. Hair dye always looks lighter than the end-result color due to the chemical reactions that take place on your hair. But if the mixed hair dye looks like the end-result color immediately, it means it expired.

What Are The Effects Of Expired Hair Dye

Hair Dye Expire

Please do not play with hair dye; it can harm your hair and your scalp a lot. So if your hair dye showed any sign of spoilage from the list that I stated above, or even if it hasn’t, but you are still unsure about it, throw it away!  

One of the most common side effects of expired hair dye is ending up with the totally wrong color. Usually, it will turn your hair into a bright green mess, but there is also the possibility of turning your hair into any other undesirable color shade.

Also, it is not unusual that hair color ends up right, but it starts to show uneven after it is set down. This hair color will fade away quickly. There is no way to predict the outcome when you are risking the usage of potentially expired hair dye. There is even a possibility that nothing will happen to your hair, no color change at all.

But what I would like to talk about more is those severe outcomes of using expired dye.

You can damage your hair so badly that it frizzes and breaks off. In some cases, hair can start falling out during the dying process. You will see these consequences just right after the first wash. The repairing process of this mess will take a lot of time, and it requires intensive efforts to repair it, and usually, it requires having your hair cut off.

As I said, not only your hair suffers when you use expired hair dye. You also risk chemically burning your scalp and suffer an allergic reaction due to the expired dye.   


I hope you learned that opened hair dyes are potentially dangerous for your health and your hair. Also, I hope that the next time you encounter a hair day for which you are unsure how long has been sitting in the storage, you will apply at least one of my test recommendations before deciding to use it on your hair.

When properly stored, hair dye can last for several years, that is true, but it is always best to play safe and buy a new one. Remember, expired hair dye will cause several problems that cost more to fix than only purchasing a new hair dye.