Does Hair Dye Expire? Find All the Answers You Need In This Guide

I get it - hair color can be a game-changer. It brings out your personality and adds a dash of spice to your style.

But here's the catch:

Understanding the shelf life of hair dyes often leaves people scratching their heads.

That's where I step in.

I've rolled up my sleeves and delved deep into the world of hair color expiration. From chats with fellow experts to late-night research sessions, I've gathered all the intel you need.


Are you ready to unravel the mystery of hair dye expiration? Let's get started.

Fact vs Fiction: Does Hair Dye Really Expire? 

Yes, like all personal care products, hair dye expires. However, many companies that produce hair dye do not include an expiration date on their products. Read on to learn how to identify expired hair dye, how to properly store it, and the dangers of using it.

Let's set the record straight:

Hair dye, like all cosmetic products, does have an expiry date. While products like sunscreen often come with clear expiration labels, hair dye can be a bit of a mystery.

So here's what the industry consensus says:

Hair dye should ideally be used within three years of the manufacturing date. Beyond this, while there's no scientific evidence to suggest it's harmful, the dye's effectiveness can take a hit. It might even contain chemicals that could damage your hair and scalp, according to Healthline.

Here's some inside information:

A Madysen from L'Oréal Paris confirmed that their hair dyes abide by the same rule of thumb: Three-year shelf life if unopened and stored at an average room temperature. However, once you've cracked it open, it's good for just one year.”

I contacted L'Oréal Paris directly.

So, the next time you're shopping for hair dye, keep an eye on the manufacturing date. If it's within the three-year window, you're good to go. Beyond that, it's best to give it a pass.

Now, here's another viewpoint:

A representative from Natulique hair cosmetics explained that their hair dyes have a minimum shelf life of 30 months from the point of dispatch for sale. Much like L'Oréal Paris, an opened Natulique dye can last up to 12 months.

I contacted Natulique directly.

Why Does Hair Dye Expire, and How Can You Spot It?

The potency of hair dye can decline due to a variety of factors. Air exposure is a common culprit

Here's what happens: 

The peroxide in the hair dye oxidizes, and as a result, the dye's effectiveness dwindles.

But there's more:

Sunlight can also take a toll on your hair dye. It can cause the dye's contents to streak and even separate, making it unsafe for use or storage.

Wondering how to tell if your hair dye is past its prime? Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • A cracked or dented bottle is a big no-no. Always give the packaging a once-over before making a purchase.
  • Any leakage from the bottle is a definite red flag.
  • Faded packaging? Best to steer clear.
  • Solid chunks around the bottle cap are a clear indication of a problem.
  • A foul or metallic odor - anything other than the typical ammonia smell - means it's time to bin it.
  • If the liquid dye appears inconsistent in color or shows any streaking, it's best to avoid it.

What Happens When You Use Expired Hair Dye?

You might be toying with the idea of using hair dye that's past its prime.

But let me tell you:

As a seasoned hairstylist, it's not a gamble worth taking. Here's why:

  • Risk of Discoloration: Have you ever heard of hair turning green after using expired hair dye? While it's not scientifically documented, it's a story I've come across enough times to give it some credence. Saving a few bucks at the risk of a green tint just doesn't add up, does it? Your best bet is to opt for fresh hair dye.
  • Potential Hair Damage: You may also be signing up for a range of hair issues, from frizziness to something as serious as hair loss.
  • Allergic Reactions: Expired dye can also trigger dermic and respiratory reactions due to the changing chemical composition. It's not just about the color; expired hair dye can potentially cause some serious skin damage.

To drive home the point, let's take a real-life example:

A Reddit user described their experience with expired hair dye. They expected a light brown result, but instead, their hair turned a much darker shade of brown. This is a clear testament to the unpredictability of expired dye, where chemical compositions can change over time, leading to unexpected results.

In conclusion, using old hair dye might not land you in the emergency room, but it's unlikely to deliver the color you're aiming for. Plus, when the risks include potential hair and skin damage, it's a clear case of 'better safe than sorry.'"

Preserving Your Hair Dye: Storage Matters

Listen up:

Just as with any other cosmetic product, how you store your hair dye can greatly affect its longevity and performance. If you want your hair dye to serve you well, pay attention to its storage conditions.

Here's my advice:

Only open your hair dye when you're ready to use it - this is crucial. Keeping it sealed for as long as possible helps prevent the degradation of its chemical composition. Once opened, make sure to store it under the right conditions to maintain its quality and effectiveness.

Take it from a pro:

L'Oréal Paris, a renowned brand in the hair color industry, suggests that the optimal conditions to store your hair dye are between 71.6 - 77 degrees Fahrenheit, or 22 - 25 degrees Celsius.

And remember:

Proper sealing is non-negotiable. Air exposure can oxidize the product, leading to reduced effectiveness. A tight seal also protects your dye from unwanted contaminants and microorganisms.


All things considered:

Adding color to your hair is a worthwhile adventure. New looks, new colors, and even new styles can come with a rush but keep these in mind:

  • Avoid expired hair dye; the outcome is not pleasant.
  • Dispose of old hair dye if you are unsure of the condition.
  • Always check the date it was manufactured.
  • Go to a professional to get your hair colored, and consult a specialist if you have questions.
  • There you have it! Everything you need to know about expired hair dye.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any other recommendations? Feel free to share them in the comment section below. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Well, sort of. There is a guiding principle that states that hair dye can last at least three years after manufacture as long as it is left unopened. Check out the date it was manufactured; if it is still within the three-year margin, then it is good for use. If it is not, you should dispose of it.
You can check the date it was manufactured. It is safe for use if it is still within the three-year margin. If not, it would be best for you to dispose of it. In addition, if the package is faded or has been tampered with, it is not advisable to buy or use it.
Hair dye should be stored at normal room temperature. It should be properly sealed so it doesn't spoil. Once mixed, it should be used immediately, and any remaining content should be discarded.

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