Hair dye is one of the best ways to refresh your personal style and shake up your look. Whether you’re looking to go from brunette to blonde and back again, add sun-kissed highlights, or venture into pastels, hair dye is the way to do it. And luckily, you don’t have to go to a salon to achieve your new look. At-home dyes offer a variety of colors and are easy to use. But what if you have product left over that you want to save for later, or purchased the dye before you’re ready to use it? Does hair color expire?
It depends. Lots of factors, such as the dye container being opened or sealed, the environment where it’s stored, and even the ingredients it’s made of can all impact its shelf life. However, synthetic dyes that have not yet been opened should last at least a few years. Read on to learn if your hair dye is safe to use.
Dyeing your hair can be fun and flattering, but if your dye is expired, it can damage your hair or turn it an unintended color. Understanding how dyes work and how long they’re effective is key to achieving the proper result.
Is the dye open or unopened?
The first thing to consider is whether or not the dye has been opened. Unopened synthetic hair dyes can last around 3 years beyond the manufacturing date, but once they’ve been opened, that number decreases to 1 – 2 years. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s date which should be printed on the bottle or packaging.
What conditions was the dye stored in?
In addition to the expiration date, the conditions in which you keep your dye can also impact how long it is usable. Magda Du Plessis from Living Gorgeous says it’s key to store your dye in a dark, cool place, away from sunlight and humidity (contrary to popular habits, the bathroom cabinet is not a good place to keep your dye.) Ensuring you close the dye containers properly helps protect the ingredients from oxidizing and becoming ineffective.
What are the risks of using expired dye?
There are a number of risks that come with using expired dye. No one wants to spend an hour waiting for the color to develop, only to rinse it out and find that their hair is unchanged or worse, the wrong color entirely. But it doesn’t stop at a bad color job. Using expired dye can cause frizz, breakage, and damage so severe that you have no choice but to cut your hair. The process of dyeing already stresses your hair due to the chemical reactions required to lift and deposit pigment. You wouldn’t want to exacerbate this by using expired dye. And worse than no color, bad color, or damage? Expired dye can be dangerous. Stanley from Hair Shepherd warns that it can inflame your skin, causing a burning sensation or rash, and even cause hair loss.
How to tell if your dye is expired
Now that you know the shelf life of hair dyes, the best ways to store them to ensure quality, and the side effects of using expired dye, how can you tell if it’s gone bad? Easy. According to Living Gorgeous, if there is spoilage on the cap of the dye bottle, you can be pretty sure it wasn’t sealed properly. If the dye has changed color from what it was previously or smells strange, it’s time to throw it out. If you’re unsure, try mixing the color: if it doesn’t change color, then it isn’t safe to use.
Now that you know…
Dyeing your hair is a great way to refresh your look and express your personal style, as long as you do it safely using quality products. Make sure to store your dye properly and be mindful of expiration dates. Here’s a good rule of thumb: when in doubt, throw it out. It isn’t worth the risk!