Does Shampoo Expire? Does Shampoo Go Bad?

While decluttering your stuff at home, you’ve found a sealed bottle of shampoo kept inside your cabinet for years. Now, you’re wondering if you can still use it. Does shampoo expire? Does shampoo go bad?

Shampoo does expire. Sealed, unopened shampoo lasts for approximately 3 to 4 years. An opened bottle of shampoo will last about 2 to 3 years. After shampoo expires, its effectiveness at cleaning the hair is greatly reduced.

Read on to learn more about how long shampoo lasts and how to tell if the shampoo has gone bad.

Does Shampoo Expire?

does shampoo expire

Shampoos do expire. Once opened, shampoo lasts for about 2 to 3 years before expiring. The unopened shampoo will last about 2 to 3 years. Anything after that, its effectiveness may already be gone.

It is common to see half-empty bottles of shampoo in our bathrooms. This normally happens when we try a new brand of shampoo, and we tend to neglect the rest that we have at home. Before we know it, half-empty bottles have been sitting around for far too long.

Admit it; you sometimes consider using them again. This is especially true if you forget to stop by the store for your toiletries and all you have left are the old ones. But then, you hesitate too and wonder, exactly how long is shampoo good for?

Check the Expiration Date on Shampoo Bottles

Before you think of lathering up, check first the expiration date on your shampoo bottle.

Typically, the shampoo expiration date is indicated on the bottle or its packaging. But it’s also possible that these details are not indicated. This is because manufacturers of personal care products are not strictly required by law to include these details on the packaging.

However, manufacturers indicate a “period after opening” suggestion. It refers to the length of time you can generally expect the product to be as effective as it should by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Check your shampoo bottle and look for a symbol that resembles a small container with the lid off. This symbol comes with a number and is followed by the letter M. Typically, you will see 12 M, 18 M, or 24 M. These details mean that your shampoo is good for 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months, respectively, once opened.

However, even without those details, you can personally check your shampoo to see whether it has already gone bad or not.

How Can You Tell If Your Shampoo Has Gone Bad?

If your shampoo bottle doesn’t have any details about its expiration, there are several telltale signs you can look out for. They are the following:

  1. Discoloration or Appearance
  2. Texture becomes clumpy
  3. Odd odor
  4. It does not seem to work the way it used to

Let’s further talk about these telltale signs:

1. Appearance

Check out the contents of your shampoo. Have they separated visibly? If yes, then don’t even think of using it anymore. When ingredients lose their potency, they tend to separate from one another.

2. Texture

Observe the texture of the shampoo. Typically, the expired ones are noticeably more sticky than those that are not yet expired. If this is the case, then it’s best to dispose of it properly. All the more that you need to throw it if the texture has become oddly foamy.

3. Smell

Would you still use your shampoo if it has started to smell off? Of course, not. If your shampoo smells odd, the chances are that it is already expired. You better dispose of it before another family member accidentally uses it.

4. Effectiveness

There are instances wherein your expired shampoo still seemingly looks good in appearance, smell, and texture. This then convinces you that it might still be alright to use it. But after using it, you notice your hair has become dry. This is because some of its ingredients have already lost their potency. 

Why Does Shampoo Go Bad Before Its Expiration Date?

The last thing we want to happen is for our shampoo to go bad even before the date indicated for its recommended use. Let me give you some tips to ensure that this won’t happen to your hair care products at home:

  1. First, make sure to avoid exposing it to water droplets or other products that might contaminate it.
  2. Second, always remember to close the lid tightly when it is not in use. That way, no water droplets or other products can contaminate it.
  3. Always store your shampoo bottles in a cool, dark place.
  4. Next, if you have sealed shampoo bottles, keep them away from high heat or direct sunlight. This also goes out for the unsealed ones.
  5. Lastly, it is important to remember that organic hair care products and sulfate-free products have a shorter shelf life. You might want to consume them first before the ones with a longer expiration date.

Can You Use Expired Shampoo?

shampoo expiration date

Shampoo does expire. Typically, those that are still sealed can last for approximately 3 to 4 years. At the same time, the opened ones can last for about 2 to 3 years. Anything after that, its effectiveness may already be gone.

While it is possible that an expired shampoo can still be effective, this isn’t the case most of the time. So, if you think that you can still use your expired shampoo, you better opt not to use it for safety reasons.

Shampoo that is past its expiration date undergoes a chemical change. This means that even if it seems to lather normally, it may not be as effective at a high level. Worse, it may cause irritation or itching of the scalp.

List of Shampoo Ingredients

Shampoo manufacturers determine the shampoo expiration date based on their ingredients. In most cases, shampoo ingredients include the following:

  1. Cocamidopropyl betaine
  2. Sodium lauryl sulfate
  3. Parabens
  4. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  5. Citric acid
  6. Panthenol
  7. Dimethicone

These ingredients are not only foaming agents and cleaning agents. But they also help in extending the shelf life of the product. They are the common ingredients of shampoo.

Common Hair Issues

However, manufacturers use other ingredients, and it all depends on the type of shampoo being produced. There are different shampoos for the following hair issues:

  1. Dandruff
  2. Damaged Hair and Split Ends
  3. Hair Loss
  4. Frizzy Hair
  5. Hair Breakage

Ingredients to Look for Dandruff Prevention

If the shampoo aims to prevent dandruff, then the product’s active ingredients will most likely include the following:

  1. Salicylic acid
  2. Coal tar
  3. Zinc pyrithione
  4. Ketoconazole
  5. Selenium sulfide

Most, if not all, shampoo products available are capable of addressing dandruff issues. However, some individuals have excessive dandruff problems that need special attention. Shampoo manufacturers are well aware of this and have produced products to address this particular hair issue.

Prevention of Damaged Hair and Split Ends

The ingredients found in shampoo that helps prevent damaged hair and split ends are the following:

  • Keratin
  • Silk amino acids
  • Argan oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Baobab seed oil
  • Grapefruit extract
  • Camellia oil
  • Omija berries
  • Pomegranate

These ingredients are known to nourish hair roots, increase hair elasticity, and restore hair moisture. They are also known to make the hair fuller, shinier, and stronger.

Does shampoo with these all-natural ingredients expire? Do these shampoos go bad? All-natural shampoos will go bad after about 2 to 3 years. It is best to use up the shampoo bottle within one year. This ensures that the shampoo will have maximum effectiveness in cleaning your hair.

Hair Loss

If you have thinning hair, you might want to buy an anti-hair loss shampoo instead of merely a general hair repair shampoo. To make sure that you are buying the correct product, you might want to check out the ingredients and see if it contains the following:

  • Minoxidil
  • Essential oils
  • Biotin or vitamin H
  • Niacin or vitamin B-3
  • Phyto-caffeine
  • Histidine

If hair loss is your problem, it is important to note that not all shampoo for hair loss remedies might be suited for you. What may work for someone does not necessarily mean that it is also effective for you.

In this case, you might want to start with a mild product first. If this doesn’t seem to work, then a stronger product might be the one for you. Better yet, consult a doctor to help better you address your hair issue.

Frizzy Hair Prevention

If you notice that you’re starting to have frizzy hair, there is a wide array of anti-frizz shampoos available in stores. Among the ingredients found in an anti-frizz shampoo are the following:

  • Coconut oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Argan oil
  • Panthenol
  • Glycerin

Typically, anti-frizz hair shampoos are free of all harmful ingredients. These include sulfate cleansers and other harsh chemicals. Instead, they include nourishing ingredients that help keep hair hydrated and repair damaged strands.

Hair Breakage

Some people experience hair breakage. If you experience this, there are still ways to improve your hair and restore it to its fullness. One of the best approaches is to avoid shampoo with harsh ingredients.

When you buy a new bottle of shampoo, choose the one with these ingredients:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Collagen
  • Biotin
  • Ginseng

These are mild ingredients that can help you restore your healthy hair.

Having said all that, this means that each shampoo product has a different set of ingredients. Therefore, shampoo expiration dates vary from one another. Just because your previous shampoo lasted for three years, it does not mean that your other bottle of shampoo will last that long too.

How to Maximize the Shelf-life of Shampoo

does shampoo go bad

As earlier mentioned, not all shampoo bottles or containers have details containing the expiration date since this is not really mandated by law. This is because, in essence, shampoo is quickly consumed since it is used daily.

But to ensure that you are not using an expired shampoo product, you may keep track by labeling its packaging using a permanent marker. Indicate the date you bought it as well as the date you opened it. If it lasts for more than a year, remember to check the contents before using it again. Observe if there are any changes in its appearance, smell, and texture.

You can maximize the shelf life of your shampoo by storing it in a cool and dry room.

You can avoid the risk of bacterial contamination by always keeping its lid tightly closed. Also, after pouring a small amount of shampoo onto your palm, try not to get water droplets inside the bottle as much as possible.

Conclusion – Does Shampoo Go Bad?

Just like any other hair care product, shampoo does expire too. In general, a sealed bottle of shampoo will last for about 3 to 4 years. An opened bottle of shampoo lasts for approximately 2 to 3 years. Anything after that, its effectiveness may already be gone.

If you have several unopened bottles of shampoo kept in your drawers for over a year now, these are most likely not yet expired and are expected to be as effective as they should. Nonetheless, you have to be responsible enough to check if there are any signs of expiration.

To reiterate, not all shampoo has similar ingredients. Therefore, it follows that their expiration dates are different from one another. This is particularly true for organic shampoo, which has a shorter life span than the rest.

In case you have several half-empty bottles of shampoo sitting in your bathroom, you need to have a keen eye for detail before you even consider using them again. Check it out for all the telltale signs indicating whether they have already expired or not yet. You wouldn’t want to use it only to have damaged hair afterward. So, better observe its appearance, smell, and texture first.

But, to be completely honest, if you have bottles of shampoo with you that are more than a year old or so, you are probably better off tossing them. It doesn’t even matter if it is sealed or unsealed.

Whether your two-year-old shampoo bottle is full or half-empty, the last thing you want to have after using it is to have damaged and irreparable hair. After all, it’s not at all difficult to drop by the store nearest you to buy a brand new bottle of shampoo.

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