Found a dusty old box of hair dye? The one that’s lived right at the back of the bathroom cupboard since you-can’t-remember-when? Or maybe you’ve stocked up on a 3 for 2 hair dye deal and stashed a few forgotten boxes away? We’ve been there! But whatever the reason, you need to know, can hair dye go out of date?
The answer is, technically, NO. If you look for a ‘Use by’ date, it’s likely you won’t find one on the box. This is because hair dye manufacturers believe that, stored correctly, a sealed hair dye box can last forever. Yippee!
How long does hair dye really last?
When it’s been stored unopened and sealed: Guidance says hair dye can actually last as long as three years! Up until then, it is considered safe to use – and beyond. There’s no evidence that using expired hair dye is unsafe, but it might not work as effectively or last as long.
When it’s been opened and mixed: Hair dye is designed to be mixed together with the developer and applied to your hair within an hour.
After that, the solution becomes oxidised and the chemicals start to degrade. If you have any hair dye left after the hour is up, it won’t keep (or work) so just throw it away!
Even natural hair dye products that don’t contain chemicals or preservatives will also degrade rapidly after they’re opened, no matter how they’re stored.
What happens if I use expired hair dye?
Using expired hair dye is not likely to damage your hair by breaking it or making it fall out, but you may not get the colour results you were longing for.
The colour of the dye may come out darker, the dye may smell or you may find there are patches of colour after dyeing your hair because the chemicals have simply aged.
It’s a sensible idea to do a patch test before you use the hair dye, to test for allergies or any dodgy colour reactions.
Watch and learn: Here’s what happens when you use a 5+ year old hair dye!
In a nutshell.
Yes, you can safely use that old box dye you’ve found, whether you bought in ’79 or 2009. With caution: You may not get the colour results you desire.
You can find out the answers to more common hair dye questions on our FAQs page.