Does Hair Dye Expire: Signs Tells Your Dye is Expired

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Coloring your hair can be extremely fun, as it can add a splash of color to your hair; however, sometimes, you get a color and choose not to use it for a while. When you get back to the old hair color package, you now have the question: Has this hair color expired, and does it still work?

Hair color does expire. Manufacturers state that hair color has a shelf life of three years before expiring. While using old and expired hair color has shown no negative health effects, expect that the color will likely be darker and more difficult to apply.

Now you know that your hair color can expire, but you are still missing a lot of the details on how to tell if your hair color has expired and what will happen if you decide to use expired hair color. Throughout the rest of this article, I will cover each of these details in much more detail, so if you ever have a question about expired hair color, you can be sure in your decision to use it or toss it in the trash and get some new dye.

Can Your Hair Dye Expire?

As stated earlier, your hair color can expire like every other cosmetic product. However, like many of these cosmetic products, it takes a long time for it to expire, as the industry standard says it takes about three years for an unopened container of hair color to expire.

However, you often don’t know how long it has been since the product was made, so it can be difficult to tell when your hair color has reached the 3-year mark. While some companies put the date when the hair color was manufactured, if your hair color container doesn’t have the manufacture date on it or you have lost the original container, you will have to figure out another way to determine how old it is.

How to Tell if Hair Dye is Expired

If you don’t have the original container that the hair color came in or your hair color doesn’t have a manufacture date, here are some things that you should pay attention to in order to determine whether or not your hair color has expired.

Something Is Wrong with the Package or Chemicals

Let’s say that you have never used the hair color, and it has just been sitting on a shelf or in a cabinet. There is still the potential for the hair color to have expired, but it will be slightly harder to identify if it has expired. However, there still are a few signs that you can look for to make sure it is safe before use. These signs that show it is expired include:

  • When you open the hair color, it has a strong, sour odor. If you are familiar with the ammonia smell that most hair colors have, you should be able to tell if the hair color has expired just from this sour smell.
  • If you open and pour some of the hair dye out and it has an unusual color, it has likely expired. Remember that even if your hair color isn’t expired, it may not look exactly like the color on the container.
  • If you pour the hair color out and you see that the color is streaked or has separated, it is expired.
  • If the hair color bottle or container is cracked or leaking, it is likely expired because it has been exposed to outside elements, which means the hair color has been oxidized.
  • If the packaging of the hair color is dented, damaged, or beginning to fade, you are going to want to get some new hair color, as the color that you have is likely expired.

Containers have Been Open for too Long.

Another possibility is that you have already opened the container but have not used all of the product. Even if you have managed to store the products properly in a safe place, they can still begin to oxidize, which will cause some undesired effects in the coloring process. If the hair color has been exposed to sunlight, air, moisture, heat, or humidity, it likely will oxidize much quicker, which will change the amount of time that you should leave the hair color on your hair and may change the color that it will leave in your hair.

Once you have opened the hair color container, manufacturers state that you should use the rest of it within the next six months before it begins to oxidize.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Expired Hair Dye

As mentioned briefly earlier, if you decide to use some old and expired hair color, you don’t have to worry about any health concerns, as studies have shown expired hair color hasn’t shown it damages hair follicles or the scalp. The most common problem is that the hair color will be darker than you originally expected it to be. However, you will have to worry about a few other problems with expired hair color.

Greenish Discoloration

When it comes to old and expired hair color, you will often find that it will take on a much darker or more green color. Unfortunately, when you are pouring out the hair color, you likely won’t be able to tell if it is expired and going to be slightly green. This would be an unfortunate surprise once you have colored your hair if you don’t check if the color has expired before you use it.

However, you can keep yourself from using expired hair color by doing a test strand before applying the hair color; take a small section of hair around the nape, apply the hair color, and let it process. If the color is what you expected, then apply it to the rest of your hair. If it is greener than you wanted it to be, especially if you aren’t coloring your hair blue, as blue often fades to green and may have some green undertones depending on the shade you choose, your hair color is expired, and you should stop using it.

Allergic Reactions or Burns

This one is exclusive to permanent hair color, but the chemicals that are used to make it permanent can cause allergic reactions or burns when it has expired. You are always going to want to look for allergy warnings before using a hair color, but since the chemicals will slowly react with each other when the color expires, you are going to have to watch out for chemicals like paraphenylenediamine, resorcinol, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, as the expiration of the hair color will make the effects of these chemicals stronger.

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