Does Hair Dye/Color Expire?

Some people have reported cases of reacting to dyes they have been using for long to color their hair. Be it blonde or black hair dye, it is important to know if it expires after opening it or if it is left unopened.

Like any other manufactured product, hair dye or color, opened or unopened, does expire. How long it will take to expire will depend on how it was manufactured and how you choose to use it.

Basing on data from the online community, questions on expiration revolve around brands such as L’Oréal, Garnier Nutrisse, Revlon Colorsilk, Clairol, Splat, Manic Panic and many more brands.

The following are details on expiration, what it looks like after going bad, the bad effects of expired hair dyes plus more

How long is Hair Dye good for? Expiration Dates & Code

Under manufacturer-recommended storage conditions, opened is good for 1-2 years.
Sealed hair dye, under proper storage conditions will last for about 3 years or more.

For most brands, the hair color product will go bad a few years after the manufacturing date. The date of manufacture is indicated on the box, if it is a box hair dye. The date of manufacture is usually indicated somewhere on the hair color product packaging and this should be checked before purchasing it.

Of importance to note is that, the expiration date relates to the date of manufacture, but only under certain circumstances. If these circumstances are met, then the hair color will only go bad after the time indicated. These conditions are:

  • Whether the hair dye is unopened or opened for use.
  • Whether the box hair dye is stored under good conditions, usually a cool and dry place before and after opening.
  • Even after opening, some products can be carefully closed after each use. This will help lengthen the hair color’s shelf life or keep it good before its indicated expiry date.

Before buying hair dye, check its expiration date carefully so that you know when it will go bad. Once you know this, you will know how much time you have to use it before it is damaged or dangerous to use it for coloring your hair.

Does hair dye expire
L’Oreal Paris box hair dye.

Can Hair Dye Expire if Unopened?

The answer to this question varies a lot. Some argue that if unopened, hair dye will not expire, while others say that it will still go bad. So, can hair dye expire if unopened, unmixed or unused? I did some research and found some truths from some hair color and dye product manufacturers, especially of box and professional hair dyes.

  • L’Oréal Paris says that their L’Oréal preference hair dyes will expire after 3 years. However, the 3 years is the minimum shelf life of the product when unopened and kept safely away from humidity and excess heat.
  • According to answers on ASK.com, it is not standard to locate expiration dates on most brands of hair color, including Garnier Nutrisse, Revlon Colorsilk, Clairol, Manic Panic and even Splat Hair Dye.
  • According to European Union laws, manufacturers must indicate the expiration date on cosmetics (including hair dye products) especially if their shelf life is not more than 3 years. It is also important to indicate after how long the color will go bad if unopened and after opening it.

Product packaging will show most of this information, but in general terms, hair dyes will expire after a couple of years if not opened.

Why Hair dye expire after opening it?

What happens after opening hair dye? Will the color go bad? Do box hair dyes and professional hair dyes expire after opening and mixing? Obviously, after opening cosmetic products, their freshness period reduces because reasons better explained in chemistry terms.

Henna hair dye
Henna hair dye

In simple terms though, hair dye expires faster after opening it because:

  • Oxidation takes place and the dye will get damaged.
  • Microbiological factors contribute to the damaging of the hair dye.

Usually, the manufacturer will have indicated on the jar, bottle, box or packaging after how long to use the hair color after opening and using it for the first time. Pay attention to that and adhere to it to prevent damaging your hair, reacting to it or other side effects.

Boxed hair dye expiration- Do home hair colors go bad?

Box hair dyes are for home hair coloring. Most of these products are drugstore hair dyes. If you do not have much time to visit the salon, a good brand of home box hair dye will be enough to color your hair by following the instructions indicated on the box.

But does box hair dye expire? Like any other dye, box dyes expire after a couple of years. This depends on the conditions of use though. For example, a box hair dye will go bad faster if opened and exposed to light and air.

When mixed with things like hair color developer, it is likely to expire or get damaged sooner. Always check on the box for time of use after opening. Below are the major brands for

What Does Expired Hair Dye look like?

Expired hair dye will have its container swelling. This is true only when the material used for packaging is not hard. A clear liquid after you shake and open is a sign of expiration. Green/yellow/tinge/orange when you rub the dye between two surfaces
Other signs of bad dye include;

  • Weird scent
  • Loose cap/lid of the container especially it has not been opened
  • Damaged Package
  • Produces a lighter shade than you expected

Does Revlon Colorsilk semi-permanent hair dye expire?

Revlon Colorsilk is a range of good quality hair dyes. It is widely used and reviewed alongside L’Oréal, Garnier Nutrisse and Clairol Natural Instincts or Herbal Instincts. If it is your best hair dye, consider stopping its usage if it is exposed to air and light.

When exposed to the sun, the strength in its peroxide will reduce due to disintegration. The color will end up darkening due to the oxidation process. However, if kept in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight, Revlon Colorsilk semi-permanent hair color expires after at least 4 years. (Source: Colorsilk Revlon Blog).

L’Oréal hair color and Clairol expiryDoes hair dye expire

The expiry of L’Oréal is known to be three years after manufacture and opening. However, that will depend on whether it is a permanent, temporary or semi-permanent dye. According to Hair Crazy, semi-permanent hair dye never expires but will go bad after opening and mixing.

Garnier, Manic Panic and RAW hair color expiration dates

Manic Panic, Garnier and RAW colors and dye are also popular brands and people ask a lot about their expiry. Well, if you are not sure about the color, you can call the manufacturer and ask about the expiry of the product.

Other common brands are Bigen, Koleston, Henna hair dyes, Palty and Packet. If you are not sure whether these hair color products have expired or not, call the manufacturer and let them advise you.

Professional Hair Dyes and Colors

Professional hair dyes do expire especially after mixing. Note that if you mix the hair dyes, dispose it if unfinished, otherwise you are likely to end up damaging your hair with it.

Side effects of using expired hair dye

What are the side effects of using a damaged hair dye? For most part, very few people have reported bad side effects, but if you like your natural hair, you shouldn’t use a damaged product on it. Here’s a list of side effects and risks of using hair color that has gone bad.

You could damage your hair if you use old hair color
You could damage your hair if you use old hair color.
  • The color will be ineffective. The dye can fade away faster, or is less likely to last longer.
  • Expired hair dye can make your hair brittle, thus damaging it.
  • Old hair dye can burn your scalp and even turn your hair yellow or green.
  • You might not get the color you want with the old dye. For example, if you are looking for ash blonde hair color, you can easily end up with a brassy color, or even a strawberry.

Personally, I wouldn’t put expired or old hair products on my hair.

Sources and references

3 Comments

  1. I would like to know how long will a unopened box of clairol nice’n easy hair colour last? Its manufactured date is on the top of the box as the 10/2013. I saw on the web site that the minimum shelf life is 3yrs.. I’ve kept it in the top of my wardrobe since I bought it in 2013.
    Can you please, answer me.
    Thanks.

  2. I want to know how many days Indica cream hair colour can be stored after opening it within primary conditions.

  3. Are there any numbers on the box to indicate when it was manufacturered. At the very bottom of the box above the skewer number this number appears (16028 2) . Does this mean anything at all?

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