Skip to Content

Does Shampoo Expire?

Have you ever wondered if shampoo expires? Does it matter when the bottle says, “Expires 6/23”, or can you use it safely after that date?

With so many different brands, formulations, and storage conditions to consider, does shampoo expire? If you’d like to find out the answer, keep on reading to find out whether shampoo expires or not…

Does Shampoo Expire?

What Is The Usual Shelf Life Of Shampoo?

 Just like other cosmetic products, shampoos indeed have a shelf life that determines how long they remain effective and safe to use.

I’m going to explain the shelf life of shampoo, so you know when it’s time to replace your half-empty shampoo bottle in the bathroom cabinet.

When you buy any cosmetic product, it is a good idea to check the expiration date on the package. However, many shampoo bottles might not have printed expiration dates on their labels.

Instead, they often display a number of months with the “Period After Opening” (PAO) symbol. This simple yet essential piece of information tells you how many months the shampoo is expected to last once you open the bottle.

For an unopened shampoo bottle, the general rule of thumb is that it can last for 2-4 years when properly stored.

The longevity of an unopened bottle of shampoo largely depends on the type of shampoo formula and the nature of the preservatives used.

An opened bottle of shampoo may go bad anywhere between six months to two years. Feel free to refer to the PAO symbol to get a better idea of your shampoo’s shelf life.

Once a bottle is opened, factors like exposure to air, moisture, and the elements can cause a chemical change in the active ingredients of the shampoo.

Does Shampoo Expire?

We all have shampoo bottles lying around in our house. But “Does shampoo expire?” The short answer is that, yes, hair care products like shampoo can indeed expire.

Unlike some consumables, shampoo might not always have an expiration date on its label, as manufacturers of personal care products aren’t required by law to provide one.

However, this doesn’t mean that shampoo doesn’t go bad. Over time, the shampoo ingredients, including additives, preservatives, and sulfates, break down and lose their effectiveness.

When using shampoo that’s past its expiration date, it might not adequately clean your hair, leaving it dry, dull, and potentially causing scalp issues.

If you don’t know the product’s expiration date, it’s best to check for signs that your shampoo may be expired. These can include unpleasant odors, change in color or consistency, or separation of the ingredients.

To ensure the longevity of your hair care products, you should store them properly.

Keep your shampoo in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures to maintain its quality.

Generally, unopened shampoo can last for around three years, whereas opened products may last for 12 to 18 months.

What Happens If You Use Expired Shampoo?

What Happens If You Use Expired Shampoo?

Using shampoo past its expiration date might not give you the best results for your hair. When a shampoo has expired, it is no longer effective and can result in your hair looking dull and dirty.

It can even cause problems like irritation, itching, and dandruff. The preservatives in the shampoo may lose their potency, making the product unstable and prone to the growth of harmful bacteria.

When your shampoo is past its prime, you might notice a few changes in its properties. The smell, texture, and color may be different from what they were when the product was fresh.

A bad or foul odor may arise, signaling that the shampoo is no longer suitable for use.

If you continue to use an expired shampoo, it could lead to scalp irritation and even skin irritation. These symptoms might be hard to detect, especially if you have been using a trusted brand.

However, if they persist, it is advisable to stop using the expired product and replace it with a fresh one.

Using expired shampoo and conditioner can not only be harmful to your health but also make them ineffective. It is essential to pay attention to the age of your haircare products.

Once opened, most shampoo and conditioner last between six months and a year, but unopened bottles can last longer.

How Can You Tell If Shampoo Has Gone Bad?

You need to know whether your shampoo is past its prime or still good to use. Luckily, there are a few ways to determine if your shampoo has expired.

Check the “period after opening” (PAO) symbol on your shampoo’s packaging. This symbol looks like an open jar with a number followed by the letter “M” (e.g., 12M).

This tells you how many months your shampoo is expected to last once opened. PAO is not an expiry date but an indication of the shampoo’s shelf life.

You can also look for a manufacturer’s batch code or an expiration date on its label. However, take note that many products like shampoo are not legally required to display an expiration date.

While not always present, having an expiry date can be helpful in determining whether your shampoo is past its expiration date.

If you can’t find any dates or labels, use the 18-month rule of thumb: typically, most shampoos have a shelf life of about 18 months.

If you believe your shampoo has been sitting on the shelf for longer than this, it might be time to consider discarding it.

Now let’s discuss some signs of expiration to help you identify bad shampoo:

  • Changes in consistency: Expired shampoo may become watery or develop lumps similar to curdled milk. If you notice any change in texture, it’s best to stop using the product.
  • Color changes: Keep an eye out for any discoloration, as this can also indicate that your shampoo is past its prime.
  • Unpleasant smell: If the fragrance of your shampoo changes or develops an off-odor, it’s another sign that the shampoo has expired.
  • Decreased effectiveness: Like many products, shampoos can lose their efficacy over time. If you find that your shampoo is no longer providing the desired results, it could be past its best.

How Long Does Natural Shampoo Last?

When talking about the life span of your natural shampoo, it’s essential to consider various factors such as the ingredients, how it’s stored, and whether the bottle is opened or not.

Natural shampoos contain natural ingredients, making them a popular choice among many. However, these organic elements tend to have a shorter shelf life compared to their synthetic counterparts.

An unopened natural hair product can last up to 3 years if sealed airtight and stored properly. However, once you’ve opened it, the shelf life of your shampoo will reduce significantly.

Opened natural shampoos can last anywhere from 3 to 24 months, with the most common ranges being 6 to 12 months.

Here are a few points to remember about natural shampoo:

  • They contain natural ingredients that may degrade faster than synthetic ones.
  • Pay attention to the expiry date on the bottle.
  • Unopened hair products can last up to 3 years, while opened ones can last between 3 and 24 months.
  • Store your shampoo in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to help extend its life.

If you think your shampoo might be past its prime, give it a sniff test as a quick way to check. If it smells off or the texture has changed, it might be time to toss it.

While using your expired shampoo won’t necessarily cause any real harm, it may not be as effective as it once was.

Is It Safe To Use Natural Shampoo After The Expiration Date?

Is It Safe To Use Natural Shampoo After The Expiration Date?

Natural shampoo typically contains fewer preservatives, which can result in a shorter shelf life.

When considering using natural shampoo past its expiration date, you should be aware of the potential risks and signs that your product is no longer optimal for use.

Expired shampoo may not have the same cleaning or moisturizing effects on your hair. If you notice that your once-effective natural shampoo is leaving your hair dull and greasy, it might be past its prime.

Unopened hair products usually have a longer shelf life, but once opened, natural shampoos can become less effective within months.

Using expired shampoo can cause an itchy and irritated scalp. If you decide to use shampoo past its expiration date, pay close attention to any changes in your scalp’s condition, as this could be a sign that the shampoo is no longer safe for use.

Expired shampoo can lead to bacterial or fungal infections, which may result in patchy hair loss.

While some natural ingredients might not pose significant risks, others could negatively impact your hair and scalp.

When deciding whether to use your expired shampoo, consider the specific ingredients and how they may change over time.

What Can You Do With Old Shampoo Or Old Conditioner?

While expired shampoo may not harm your hair, its effectiveness may be compromised due to chemical changes.

A simple rule of thumb for unopened shampoo is that it can last for 2-4 years when properly stored, while opened bottles may last between six months to two years.

Now, what can you do with expired product? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Clean makeup brushes: You can use your expired shampoo to clean your makeup brushes. Mix a small amount of shampoo with warm water and gently swirl your brushes in the solution before rinsing thoroughly.
  2. Washing delicate clothing: Dilute expired shampoo or conditioner with water and use it to wash delicate fabrics like lingerie and silk items. The gentle formula can help protect the delicate fibers.
  3. Household cleaning: Your old shampoo can be repurposed as an all-purpose cleaner. Mix it with warm water and use it to clean countertops, bathtubs, or even floors. Just be sure to avoid using expired products containing harsh chemicals on sensitive surfaces.
  4. Car washing: If your expired shampoo doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients or abrasive particles, you can use it as a gentle car wash soap. Mix it with water and use a sponge or soft cloth to apply the solution to your car’s exterior.
  5. Hand wash: If you find using expired shampoo on your hair is not giving the desired results, you can still use it as hand wash. Keep a bottle of expired shampoo near your sink as a convenient yet effective hand soap alternative.

Using old or expired care products in these ways can help you make the most of your past-its-prime shampoo or conditioner, and contribute to a more eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle.

Just ensure that you test a small portion first to avoid any unwanted reactions or residue.

How To Store Shampoo Products To Make Them Last Longer Before It Goes Bad?

How To Store Shampoo Products To Make Them Last Longer Before It Goes Bad?

When you buy a shampoo bottle, you might notice that it doesn’t have an expiration date on its label. But just like other cosmetic products, shampoos can go bad, too.

To ensure that your shampoo lasts longer and stays effective, follow these storage tips.

First things first, keep your shampoo bottle in a cool, dry place. Exposure to humidity and temperature fluctuations can affect the shelf life of your shampoo.

Your bathroom cabinet is a perfect spot, as it protects the product from direct sunlight and moisture.

When it comes to unopened bottles, store them upright to prevent leaks and spills. This position also helps prevent air exposure, which can cause the shampoo’s consistency and effectiveness to degrade over time.

After opening a shampoo bottle, make sure to close the cap tightly after every use. This step prevents bacterial growth and prolongs the shampoo’s life by keeping out contaminants.

If your cap doesn’t close securely, consider transferring your shampoo to another bottle with a secure and tight-fitting cap.

Your scalp health plays a role in how often you should replace your shampoo.

If you’re using the shampoo often, pay attention to signs that it might be past its prime.

The texture, smell, or color of the shampoo can change when it’s no longer suitable to use. In case you notice any change, it’s time to discard the product, and get a new bottle instead.



The short answer to the question “Does shampoo expire?” is yes. You should check your product’s labels and packaging for printed expiration dates or periods after opening (PAO) symbols.

Unopened bottles typically last between 2-4 years, while opened bottles may only be good for 6-18 months.

When deciding whether you can still use expired shampoo, consider the types of ingredients used in its formula and watch out for signs of spoilage such as odor, color, or texture changes.

If you have an old bottle of shampoo lying around, you can upcycle it by using it as hand wash or a gentle cleaning solution.

To make sure that your shampoos last longer before they expire, store them away from direct sunlight in a cool place with tight-fitting lids when possible.

All products featured on Gemma Etc. are PR samples or gifted items, unless otherwise indicated. This post may contain affiliate links. If you wish to find out more, please see my Disclaimer within my navigation bar.