Does Hair Dye Expire? How To Know If The Dye Is Expired

Bad odor and big chunks of solids in your dye tell you it is not in a state to use.

Reviewed by Ghanima Abdullah, Cosmetologist Ghanima Abdullah Ghanima AbdullahCosmetologist facebook_icontwitter_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach Krati Darak MBA, Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
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You rummage through your cupboard in search of something and find the hair dye you bought nearly two years ago. You think that the color would look incredible on you and decide to try it. But hold on – does a hair dye expire? Sadly, the answer is yes! An expired hair dye may cause adverse effects on your hair. We elaborate on these effects in this article. Continue reading!

Different Types Of Hair Dye

Let us look at the different types of hair dye that are commonly used below:

  • Temporary Hair Dye
    Free of harsh chemicals and provides a pop of color that washes out after shampooing.
  • Semi-Permanent Hair Dye
    Gentle on the hair and ammonia-free. It’s perfect for adding shine, covering gray hair, or enhancing your natural color.
  • Demi-Permanent Hair Dye
    Perfect for refreshing an existing color or easily blending grays for a longer color life.
  • Permanent Hair Dye
    It is used for a lasting and significant color change. It usually contains ammonia and comes with the commitment of regular touch-ups.
  • Bleach
    Perfect for those who want light-toned tresses. However, it can be damaging and hence, requires professional handling.

Hair dyes come with an expiration date, and the age of the dye can impact the vibrancy of your hair color. Scroll down to learn why hair dye expires.

Why Does Hair Dye Expire?

A hair dye might go bad due to sun exposure
Image: Shutterstock

Once opened, a hair dye might go bad or expire due to several reasons. Some of the most common ones are listed below:

  • Sunlight: The chemicals in the hair dye may warm up if the dye is exposed to direct sunlight. This may cause the dye to get separated.
  • Air: Hair dye containing peroxide can get oxidized upon direct exposure to air.
  • Microorganisms: Hair dye may also expire due to bacteria and other microorganisms. These microorganisms can interact with the chemicals in the dye and cause chemical reactions.

Using old and expired dye on your hair may change your hair texture or cause hair fall. Let us take a deeper look into what happens if you use an expired hair dye.

What Will Happen If You Use Expired Hair Dye?

1. Your Hair May Turn Green

Using expired hair dye may turn your hair green
Image: Shutterstock

Some people claim that using expired or old hair dye may turn your hair green. The change in color could be more pronounced in individuals with light blonde, gray, or white hair.

2. Your Hair May Turn Into An Undesirable Color

Using expired hair dye may also turn your hair into an undesirable color.

3. You May Experience Allergic Reactions

Using expired hair dye may cause allergic reactions
Image: Shutterstock

Changes in hair color are a direct result of chemical changes. If the chemicals are imbalanced because the expiry date has passed, these changes can cause allergic reactions.

4. Your Hair May Get Damaged

Using expired hair dye may damage your hair
Image: Shutterstock

Using expired hair dye may cause your hair to break off or become frizzy. One may notice the damage only after the first wash. An expired hair dye may also cause chemical burns on the scalp.

Aka Aislinn, a Youtuber, applied expired hair dye on her hair and shared the result. She said that the expired hair dye did not affect her hair or cause any damage. She adds, “We are trying a hair dye that I have had set aside for years, so it is now expired but we are going to use it anyway (i).”

Now we know what can happen if you use an expired hair dye. But how do you know if a hair dye is expired?

How To Know If The Dye Is Expired?

1. Damaged Package

The hair dye could be expired if its package appears damaged. Wet spots on the package could signify damage due to water or chemical leakage.

protip_icon Quick Tip

Avoid leaving hair dye in a steamy bathroom for many years as its quality may alter if water infiltrates the container.

2. Separation

The dye might have expired even if you don’t find any leak in the packaging. If your dye has gone bad or expired, you will see big chunks of solids floating around in a milky solution.

3. Bad Odor

Expired hair dye smells foul
Image: Shutterstock
Expired hair dye smells foul
Image: Shutterstock

Hair dye that smells foul or has a metallic smell could have most likely expired.

Infographic: Signs And Side Effects Of Expired Hair Dye

Using expired hair dyes can lead to disappointing results and cause hair fall and damage. How do you know if your hair dye has expired, and what will happen if you use it? Don’t worry. We have got you covered. Check out the following infographic before using that old hair dye.

signs and results of using expired hair dye (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Hair dyes, like everything else, have an expiration date. If you do not ensure proper hair dye storage, the solutions can quickly go bad, and using them after they expire may damage your locks. It is best to be aware of and practice hair dye safety. Sunlight, air, and microorganisms are some of the most common causes. In addition, using expired dye on your hair might affect the texture of your hair and cause hair loss. Keep an eye out to see if the hair dye you choose is fresh. If you think it is past its prime, replace it. A minor modification in how you apply hair dyes can make a big difference in the appearance and health of your hair. Also, if possible contact your local waste disposal services to ensure responsible hair dye disposal if they expire, since they contain elements that can harm the environment.

protip_icon Quick Tip

Store the hair dye in an air-tight container to make it last longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do hair dyes stay good?

It may depend on the hair dye ingredients and brand. While some dyes don’t have an expiration date, many are usually good for 2-3 years if not opened.

Can I use leftover hair dye?

No. If you have mixed your hair dye with a developer, the resulting solution oxidizes over time and loses its efficacy. You might end up with a different, odd hair color.

Do all hair products expire?

Yes. Every hair product from shampoos to dyes to serums is formulated with specific chemical or organic ingredients that may degrade or oxidize over time. As it has a limited shelf life, it should be used within the time frame specified on its label..

How long can I use a hair product after the expiration date?

It is not recommended to use a hair product that has expired, as it may lead to adverse effects, scalp irritation, or loss of its intended effectiveness. It may also be contaminated with bacteria or other debris which might be harmful to your hair and overall health.

Key Takeaways

  • Direct exposure to air, bacteria, and sunlight may result in the separation and expiration of hair dye.
  • Using expired hair dye may result in green hair, an allergic reaction, or chemical burns on your scalp.
  • Damaged packaging and bad smell are key indicators of hair dye toxicity and you steer clear of such products.
hair dye expire_illustration

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team


Curious about the shelf life of your hair products? Check out this enlightening video to uncover the safety of using expired hair products and get practical tips to ensure your hair care remains effective and healthy.

Personal Experience: Source

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Ghanima Abdullah
Ghanima AbdullahCosmetologist
A cosmetologist from Chicago, IL, Ghanima lives in the Caribbean. As a beauty consultant and stylist with 40 years of experience, she has been in the beauty industry for a few decades, doing makeup and hair. Being a formulator, she has her eye on new ingredients in the market and their uses.

Read full bio of Ghanima Abdullah
Anjali Sayee
Anjali SayeeAssociate Editor
Anjali is an associate editor at StyleCraze. She specializes in hairstyles and hair and skin care and has written over 200 articles in these domains. She has 7 years of experience, and her philosophy about hair and skin care is simple: if you love and care for it, it will be healthy.

Read full bio of Anjali Sayee
Eshna Das
Eshna DasAssociate Editor
Eshna is an associate editor and a certified skin care coach. She has over three years of experience, a triple main bachelor’s degree in psychology, English, and journalism from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, and a master’s degree in psychology from Sampurna Montfort College, Bengaluru.

Read full bio of Eshna Das
Krati Darak
Krati DarakAssociate Commerce Editor
Krati is an associate commerce editor, a certified skin care coach, and a beauty enthusiast. She has a master’s degree in advertising and publishing relations from DAVV University and three years of experience in writing and editing for different niches.

Read full bio of Krati Darak
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