Do Hair Care Products Expire? (Explained)

When you open a hair care product such as conditioner, shampoo or moisturizer, the countdown to its shelf life begins.

Know the ‘best before date’ of these products, their risks if they are expired and tips to extend their shelf life.

Do Hair Care Products Expire

Do Hair Care Products Expire

Surely you have ever asked yourself this question: have those products that I have been keeping in the drawer for months expired?

The answer is that they can expire since, from sun creams or moisturizers to shampoos or makeup products, they all have a shelf life.

Once this happens, their effect or properties may disappear and even, in some cases, may pose a risk to the health of your skin.

If every time you go to the bathroom, you hear the voice of Marie Kondo inside you and you have decided to clean out the shelf of potting products and cosmetics, you should know that the shelf life will depend on the type of product and its composition, a date decided by manufacturers according to different variables.

As Laura Bey, organic chemist and dermo-cosmetics expert explained to us; all cosmetics must pass a safety evaluation that includes tests on pH levels, stability, viscosity, etc., the results of which will help determine their longevity.

Read: How To Start Hair Care Line That Will Turn Out Successful

Cosmetics that expire sooner are those that contain more water, those applied to sensitive areas, or those intended for babies.

Other Variables

In addition to all of the above, other variables will also be taken into account.

Such as the container in which it is presented: whether it is with a lid, it is Airfree, or with a plunger, since in this way it cannot be contaminated with bacteria, nor will air affect its composition.

It also applies to areas where it is to be applied is more or less sensitive or if it is intended for a particularly delicate consumer group, such as children under three years of age.

Depending on all this, hair care products can be roughly classified into those that expire according to their manufacture indicated with an hourglass symbol and ‘use preferably before the end of…’- and those in which the time starts to count from the moment they are opened, the so-called PAO (Period After Opening) method.

What does the shelf life of hair care products mean?

Just as food has its time to be consumed, hair care products also have their time to be consumed, and in the latter case, it means that they can lose their properties or benefits.

Obviously, not all hair care products have the same expiration date or work in the same way.

For example, it is not the same for a face cream to expire as one for the hair because, in the case of the skin, it can be affected.

But, in the case of hair, it is not so serious because the product can only lose effectiveness, and hair is not as sensitive as skin.

The longevity of the product will depend on several factors.

For example, its composition, if they have more or fewer preservatives if you exposed it to the sun, or too high or low temperatures.

In addition, you have to remember that once a product is opened, it comes into contact with external agents that deteriorate it.

How can we know when our products expire?

All the hair care products we use have two keys on their labels to let us know when they expire. The first thing we can consider is the date of manufacture and expiration of the product without opening it.

For example, if a product is past the expiration date on its packaging, it does not matter if it is unopened, it is an expired product.

Another way is to look at the PAO (Period after opening).

This is an icon of a package that is open and has a number and an M, which stands for the number of months.

The open lid will mean that the expiration date begins once the product is opened.

It is said that if this symbol does not appear, it is because its expiration date is greater than 36 months.

Other Things to look out for

Another way to know if your product has expired is to look at its texture, color, and aroma.

If these qualities have changed and are different from how they were in the beginning, it is because the product is past its expiration date.

Usually, what is very evident are the textures that will look thick or like yogurt or cut milk.

And the aromas will be rotten or acidic.

This point must be taken into account in products for the skin, which is the one that can be affected by irritations and alterations.

In the case of hair products, a good indication of expiration is when they stop working well.

For example, a conditioner that used to be super detangling no longer does so.

A mask that used to moisturize a lot no longer does so much; that will help you to realize that the product is close to expiring or actually already did.

Why do some products expire earlier than others?

This happens because the expiration will depend on the formulation of the product and whether it has a lot of water or not.

Generally, products that contain water are more likely to have shorter ODPs, especially if they do not contain their respective preservatives.

It must be taken into account that water generates many microorganisms, bacteria, and fungi, which deteriorate the product quickly; that is why preservatives are important.

Natural hair care products do not usually use many preservatives, so the PAO is much shorter; an example is the fresh masks of Lush; I think they do not last for 2 months, so you have to pay attention to this issue.


I don’t usually use expired products, especially on the skin; in that sense, I am quite careful.

On the other hand, with hair, I have made and still make exceptions because if x product works well for me, does not have a strange texture, or has not changed its scent, I continue to use it without problems.

Just like Davine’s serum, which despite having a fairly extensive PAO, has already expired but still works well for me.

I think we should not be too alarmist with hair; although I have had hair masks that have expired, they have not changed scent or texture, and they smell the same as in the beginning, but they no longer produced a good effect, so in that case, I stopped using them.

A little tip before I finish: If you are a hoarder like me, what I can recommend is that you don’t open the products until you finish others, so you can make them last longer because they won’t be open.