If you’re anything like us, you have a drawer or closet of hair products you haven’t touched in months (or maybe even years). Unlike the food in your fridge, however, your hair products might not be marked with an expiration date, so it can be difficult to know when that hairspray or shampoo you’ve been holding onto has officially gone bad.
Wondering exactly how long your hair products last and, more importantly, when is it finally time to throw them away? Read on for everything you need to know about expired hair products.
How long do hair products stay good for?
This might surprise you, but there’s currently no law that requires beauty brands to list an expiration date on products. Hair products, however, have a relatively long shelf life compared to other beauty products. Some unopened products can last up to three years when stored in a cool, dry space.
While you may not be able to find an exact expiration date, many brands include an PAO (or, period after opening) indicator on the bottle that tells you how long a product lasts once it’s been opened. Wondering how to find the PAO on your hair products? When you reach for a hair product, turn the bottle around and look for a tiny square label on the bottom right corner of the packaging. It should be marked with a number followed by an M. This indicates how many months a product can be used for once it’s been unsealed.
If your product doesn’t have a PAO number, there are a few ways to determine if a product has gone bad on your own. Noticing your shampoo or conditioner has gotten clumpy since the last time you used it? Does your favorite hairspray have a strange odor? If you notice any changes to the smell, texture, or color of your hair products, it’s probably time to toss them.
Of course, certain types of hair products are known to last longer than others. Non-aerosol products like shampoos and conditioners are said to have a shelf-life of 12 to 18 months after opening. Aerosol products like texturizing sprays and dry shampoos, however, can last longer because of their limited exposure to air.
If you’re still unsure whether it’s time to say goodbye to a product or not, there are also apps you can download that can help you track when a product batch has expired and when it’s time to restock.
Can you use expired hair products?
When it comes to using expired hair products, we say out with the old and in with the new! Those bottles collecting dust on your shelf might not be necessarily harmful for your strands, but they also might not perform as well as they should. Which means, if you want to reap the full benefits of your favorite formulas, it’s always best to stay away from expired products.
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