Does Shampoo Expire? Let’s Clean Up Your Bathroom’s Shelf

November 24th 2021 in Hair Care - 7 mins read

Does Shampoo Expire? Let’s Clean Up Your Bathroom’s Shelf

Hi my ladies, today’s topic is expired shampoo. Is it weird for you to think about shampoo’s expiration date? I used not to look for the expiration date on the shampoo bottIes since reading ingredients is the most important shopping-task. Plus, I never thought that I could let them sit on my bathroom shelf for more than half of a year. However, it did happen to me. I kept purchasing many bottles of shampoo when it was advertised. Thus, some of them had been left out till their consistency became watery; they are expired shampoos! In this post, let me share more details about the expiration of shampoo and other hair products and some hacks to utilize if expired.


Does shampoo have an expiration date?

Do hair products expire? Even a bottle of water has its expiration; therefore, of course, hair products do so, too. Fairly, the shelf life of shampoo or other hair-care products is quite long. Its expiration information is usually indicated near the barcode of the product or below the country of origin. It can be indicated on an exact date or by PAO mark, which stands for Period After Opening. Typically, there will be a picture of a container with a half-opened lid. On the picture, you will find a number with a letter “M”, for example, 12M, which means 12 months. How long is shampoo good for? Commonly, the shelf life of shampoo ranges from 18M to 36M, which means that it is safe to use within that specific month after opening. If you are using keratin treated shampoo, its shelf life is 3 years as well. Does dry shampoo expire? The answer is a total yes since it is a hair product, too. It should be shorter if your shampoo is organic. 

Does shampoo have an expiration date?

How long does shampoo last? Which factors affect the shelf life of shampoo?

Contamination, personally, is a huge concern when storing many bottles of shampoo in the bathroom. I never wonder how they can be contaminated when they just sit on the sink. Unfortunately, I can tell you that germs or bacterias can be transferred from your urine or clean hands when touching the pumpers, etc. Plus, if your hair products sit near the window, sunlight will speed up the heat and break down the shampoo’s active ingredients. If you use shampoo from refill bags, while transferring it to the bottle, contamination can happen as well. The expired shampoo is not only a result when its expiry date is reached; the actual shelf life of shampoo can be lowered due to those mentioned factors.      

Does shampoo go bad? What are common signs of expired shampoo?

In fact, if a shampoo bottle is left for too long, it will reduce the effectiveness of hair care. My sincere advice is to use up shampoo within a year once the bottle is opened. There are some shampoos or hair-care products that totally do not PAO (Period After Opening) indicators. How can we know whether we are keeping expired shampoo without PAO? There are three ways that you can determine if your shampoo is expired or on the verge of being expired.

Smell: Shampoo has a good fragrance when it is newly opened, which you cannot forget. Most times, you know your shampoo has gone bad when that wonderful scent has changed to a completely different smell. Sadly, that is a time you should throw away “your money”. In some cases, the scent is not rancid yet; however, its smell is somehow very faint; it tells you that your shampoo is on the verge of being expired. I have experienced once when my shampoo is expired; it stinks since it contains natural ingredients. Its bad odor was significantly telling me my product was spoiled.

Viscosity, consistency, and color changes: When you pump shampoo onto your palm and realize that your product is separated, lumpy, or curdled, yes, you no longer have a chance to use it. Additionally, when the original creamy color of shampoo transforms to a transparent one or its viscosity becomes too watery, you know you have to get rid of it.

Changes in performance: There are some expired shampoos that do not have clear signals of change in viscosity or smell; let’s lather it. If it does not bubble as normal, it tells you that your shampoo’s formulation has been changing and being expired. Your scalp will tell whether your product’s quality is still there or not. If your scalp gets irritated and itchy more and more, or you experience excessive hair loss and tangling, expired shampoo does so due to its increased acidity level.

What if your shampoo is expired already, but it still passes all three tests? I can say that I would not dump it into a trash bin yet; however, I would try to use it up as soon as possible.

What happens if you use expired shampoo?

Some people still keep using expired shampoo, although they know that already because that expired shampoo passes the smell test. However, when shampoo expires, it means that there are some changes in its chemical, which can severely impact your scalp and hair texture. That bad change will affect your hair health in many obvious ways. Let me point out some aftermaths of using expired shampoo:

Hair loss and dandruff: Personally, I treasure my hair so much. However, my dad does not really care about his hair much; therefore, using expired shampoo does not matter to him. However, it is completely obvious to see his dandruff on his limp curly-hair. Plus, besides having itchy scalp, as mentioned, your hair becomes gradually weaker and easily falling out. Breakage happens when you comb your hair. In general, hair loss is the most common consequence of using expired shampoo since it kills your hair follicles.

Hair color changes: If your hair is dyed, you better care for it more than it should be. Commonly, the hair stylist will always advise his clients to get a shampoo for dyed hair to maintain its color. However, I am quite slack to get such a shampoo, and I do experience how quick my hair color fades. Thus, if I used expired shampoo for my dyed hair, its high acidity level would wash away my hair color faster. 

Unclean hair: When your shampoo is expired, it is no longer able to work for your hair. In other words, your hair after being washed by expired shampoo is still not clean; the excessive oil and dust from your working and living environment are not fully removed. You can tell it if your scalp is still not heavy, and your hair is sticky. 

How to last your shampoo longer with stable quality?

How to last your shampoo longer with stable quality?

For most shampoo and hair products, they should be stored in cool and dark places to avoid exposure directly to sunlight and heat sources. The best tip for you is to choose a shampoo product contained in the dark color bottle or place them in the cupboard if you purchase in a bunk. If it is a shampoo bar, it should be exposed to air to perform effectively. However, it still needs to be away from heat sources to avoid being melted. 

A pump dispenser is the best design for shampoo since it is easy to control the amount of shampoo needed for your hair and free from hand contact. As mentioned, your clean hands can carry and harbor bacterias every time you want to pour excess shampoo back into your bottle. If you even pump excessive shampoo, let’s use it for body wash and not to try to open the cap and pour it back to minimize the unexpected contamination. 

Tips: if you do not want to throw away your expired shampoo, let’s make it useful for your life before ending its life in a trash bin by cleaning your garden yard, windows, or bathroom if its smell is still acceptable.


The shampoo does expire, and other hair products do so, too. When the PAO indicator is not clear, the tests in aroma, consistency, and performance are essential to determine whether you are storing expired shampoo or not. In case you are owing some expired shampoo or hair products on your bathroom shelf, you should not damage your precious hair by stubbornly using them. However, they still can be helpful if being used as a detergent for your house cleaning or pet wash if its smell is still nice enough. 

I hope that my sharing about expired shampoo is useful for you to clean up your bathroom shelf and make them usable before being thrown up into a bin. Please feel free to share your experiences with expired shampoo or interesting hacks to utilize them. Let’s hit my comment box! 

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