Hair bleach is a popular hair product for those looking to take their hair color to the next level. Buy one bottle, and it seems to last forever, right? Which gets me thinking does hair bleach ever go bad?
When it comes to hair coloring, bleach is like that trusty eraser. It works its magic by stripping away the original color.
But here’s a curveball. Ever noticed in the store, loads of people staring puzzled at those bleach bottles? That’s because heaps of them don’t even have an expiry date mentioned. Isn’t that super weird?
So, what does that mean? Can we keep that bottle around forever and ever? And the biggie: if it’s been sitting there for ages, is it still okay to use on our precious hair strands?
Does Hair Bleach Last Forever?
Hair bleach does expire in both situations: opened or unopened. Even if the ingredients remain chemically stable for a long period, they can still degrade or lose their effectiveness over time.
Once you’ve broken that seal and let air in, the clock starts ticking a bit faster. Exposure to air, moisture, and contaminants can affect its potency and safety.
Even if you haven’t opened the bottle, time still isn’t entirely on your side. While unopened bleach does last longer due to its sealed environment, the chemicals inside still undergo slow degradation.
This might come as a surprise to some, but it’s a fact. So why some bleach products do not mention the expiry date?
The primary ingredient in most hair bleaches is hydrogen peroxide. Some bleaches also contain persulfates for a more intense lightening effect.
These chemicals remain stable for extended periods. This stability might give manufacturers the confidence that the product will hold its potency for a long time. Varying storage conditions affect the product’s lifespan too.
Another reason can be the shelf life of hair bleach. It can differ based on storage conditions. If you keep it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, it might last longer than if it’s stored in a damp environment.
Because of these varying factors, manufacturers might avoid giving a one-size-fits-all expiration date.
How Long Does Hair Bleach Last?
On average, an intact hair bleach has a shelf life of 36 months or more. Meanwhile, hair bleach’s viability decreases faster after you open it.
Once opened, it’s exposed to air, which speeds up the degradation of its volatile components like hydrogen peroxide.
Aside from air, the hair bleach is exposed to elements and contaminants that further quicken the degradation process.
Generally, the life span of hair bleach decreases to 6 months after it’s opened, which is why it’s best to use the product within this timeframe. Depending on the environment it may go bad before that time.
Also, notice how you need to immediately use hair bleach after preparing it. The ingredients decompose fast and may not be as effective if you delay the application.
Why Does Hair Bleach Go Bad Quickly After Opened?
Hair bleach goes bad easily because it’s made up of unstable ingredients like hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.
These two are responsible for stripping off the hair’s melanin, or the pigment-producing proteins responsible for your hair’s natural color. That way, the dye can penetrate the hair strand easily.
However, these unstable components degrade after too much exposure to air, elements, and contaminants.
In the case of hydrogen peroxide, it reduces to water and oxygen after too much heat exposure due to improper storage.
How to Know If My Hair Bleach Has Gone Bad
Here are telltale signs that your hair bleach is nearing its expiration date or is no longer usable:
1. Change in Texture and Consistency
Most hair bleach usually has a creamy and smooth texture with no clots. That said, the presence of clumps is an indication that your hair bleach is no longer viable.
At the same time, expired hair bleach tends to be more watery or runny. Sometimes, it appears dry and flaky.
You’ll also notice how expired bleach doesn’t apply or penetrate properly to hair.
2. Unpleasant Smell
Fresh hair bleach typically has a strong, chemical-like odor, predominantly due to its ammonia content. As the chemicals begin to break down, the decomposition process intensifies the already strong odor.
When the hair bleach has expired, the smell changes and becomes even more potent. This is not just a more concentrated version of the original smell but often transforms into a more sour odor.
3. Ingredient Separation
Check the consistency of the bleach. If there’s separation of ingredients or a layer of liquid on top, it means the bleach’s chemical stability has been compromised.
Normal hair bleach is white to cream-colored, with no visible streaks or discoloration. You’ll notice how expired bleach has a darker tinge, or there may be streaks of darker color present.
If you can test the pH level and it shows a drastic change from when it was new, it indicates that the bleach has degraded and is no longer safe to use.
4. Pressure Upon Opening the Bottle
If you hear a release of gas or a popping sound upon opening the bleach container, it is a sign that the bleach has gone bad.
This phenomenon happens due to the increased amount of gasses which are the byproduct of chemical degradation.
You may wonder why you didn’t get the desired bleaching effect after following the instructions and leaving the bleach on within the prescribed time.
This phenomenon is due to the fact that hair bleach will still expire even if it looks normal as long as it’s already past the expiry date.
Is It Safe to Use Expired Hair Bleach?
We strongly recommend against using expired hair bleach, not only because it won’t take effect, but also because of the adverse health effects that come with it.
If you accidentally applied expired hair bleach on your hair, rinse it out immediately and avoid using a hair dryer or any heating tools. Heat will weaken your hair and cause further damage.
Use nourishing conditioners to help your hair recover fast. Using natural oils to hydrate your scalp is also helpful in promoting healthy hair growth.
Here are the damaging effects of using expired hair bleach:
- Infections and Allergic Reactions: Expired hair bleach can irritate your scalp, cause redness, and too much itching. Irritation is also the root cause of bacterial infections.
- Breakouts: Skin contact with expired hair bleach can trigger acne. Use a gentle cleanser to wash the product off your face after unwanted exposure.
- Uneven or Patchy Coloring: Because your hair bleach’s mechanism of action is impaired, it can no longer open your hair cuticles effectively or remove your hair’s pigment. As a result, you get a blotchy bleaching effect.
- Hair Loss and Damage: Using expired hair bleach causes your hair to be more brittle and fall off easily.
How to Store Hair Bleach Properly to Prolong Shelf Life
It’s essential to take note of the date when you first opened the hair bleach on the packaging or bottle to assess how long it is viable.
Also, note the following tips when storing your hair bleach:
- Keep hair bleach away from direct sunlight or heat.
- Store in a cool and moisture-free area, away from pets and children’s reach.
- Seal the product properly.
- Avoid storing the bleach together with other household chemicals.
How to Properly Discard Expired Hair Bleach
One thing’s for sure, never pour hair bleach down the sink, toilet, or bathtub. It contains chemicals that can harm the water system and aquatic life.
If your bleach is in liquid form, consider mixing it with an absorbent material like cat litter, sawdust, or sand. This can solidify the bleach, making it safer for disposal.
Seal in a Plastic Bag: Once you’ve dealt with the bleach’s consistency, transfer it to a plastic bag, seal it securely, and then place it inside another bag. Double-bagging minimizes the risk of leaks.
Write a note or label indicating that the bag contains expired hair bleach. This ensures anyone handling it knows what’s inside.
Depending on your local guidelines, you may be able to dispose of the double-bagged bleach in your regular trash. But again, always check local rules first.
The best practice is partnering with a hazardous waste facility, as improper disposal of expired hair products can harm the environment or contaminate the water system.
So, Does Hair Bleach Ever Expire?
Hair bleach usually expires after 3 years if unopened. This can vary based on the printed expiry date of the product. If opened, the product is only viable for several months.
Using expired hair bleach is not advisable as it can damage the hair or cause adverse health effects like allergies. It’s also important to know how to discard expired hair bleach safely, as indicated above.