Does Hair Dye Expire: What You Need to Know

Does Hair Dye Expire: What You Need to Know

Buying hair dye is easy – you see it on the shelf, you immediately start imagining how you’re going to use it, you get excited, and you buy it. And then you leave it sitting at the back of your medicine cabinet for a couple of years and when you see it again it’s past its expiration date.

Can you ignore the expiration date, however? Can hair dye expire or is it still usable?

Unfortunately, the answer to the “Does hair dye go bad?” question is a hard “Yes”. Even professional dyes expire. In fact, even if the dye hasn’t passed its expiration date, it still might have expired already.

Does hair dye have an expiration date?

Most hair dyes brands say that their dyes expire after 2 or 3 years. That is relatively accurate. Other brands will say that their dyes have no expiration date as long as they remain unboxed – this is largely false advertising as every type of hair dye expires eventually.

Does unopened hair dye expire?

Sooner or later – yes. When looking at the dye’s expiration date it’s important to see if it’s for opened or unopened but either way, the dye will expire eventually. For unopened dyes, the expiration period is usually 2-3 years.

Does hair dye expire after opening it?

Does box hair dye expire months or years after opening it? This depends on the dye but it’s usually ~1 year after it’s opened that the dye will start going bad.

How to tell if your hair dye has expired?

The usual signs to look for are:

  • The color of the dye has changed.
  • An unpleasant odor coming out of the dye’s container.
  • The dye has started to separate inside the container and/or it looks murky.

If either of those has happened, it’s best not to use the dye at all.

What are the side effects of using expired hair dye?

Here’s what you can expect from a bad hair dye:

  1. It dyes your hair green. Similar to how chlorine can turn bleached hair green, bad hair dye tends to do the same.
  2. An expired hair dye can also turn your hair in any other unexpected color – this really depends on the specific dye but while green is the most common side effect, any other unwanted color is possible as well.
  3. The dye can just be ineffective.
  4. Even if the dye seems like it’s doing its job at first, it will likely fade away very quickly.
  5. An expired dye can cause some serious frizz or even damage to your hair, especially after that first wash.
  6. Bad dye can also burn your scalp.
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