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How To Tell If Your Hair Conditioner is Expired

We’re used to our food products having expiration dates, but not our beauty products. But in fact, they do have expiration dates. So, how to tell if your hair conditioner is expired?

There are indeed some telltale signs. Keep reading to learn how to make sure your hair conditioner is still good to use.

Do Hair Conditioners Expire?

Yes, hair conditioners do expire. Hair conditioners, much like other beauty products, have a shelf life. They will expire eventually, but usually, not for 1 to 3 years if you store the bottles correctly. After the shelf life the conditioners start to lose their effectiveness.

When the conditioner will expire can be affected by many factors such as exposure to light, heat, and air. If you open the hair conditioner bottle, the shelf life will be shorter.

What Causes Hair Conditioners to Go Bad?

Several things can cause conditioners to go bad. Generally, conditioners and other products have a lifespan and will start to deteriorate after some time.

What causes hair conditioners to go bad before their time is contamination with bacteria on your fingers inside the bottle and moisture.

How To Know if Your Hair Conditioner Is Expired

If you’re unsure whether your hair conditioner has expired, here are nine surefire ways to tell.

1. The Expiration Date Has Passed.

How To Tell if Your Hair Conditioner Is Expired or Went Bad - Date Expired

The first sign that your conditioner is past its prime is that the expiration date on the bottle has passed.

Most people aren’t aware that these products come with an expiration date posted on the bottle, so you’ll always want to double-check if you suspect your product has expired.

They generally last for over a year, but that’s from the production date, not the date you purchase it.

Be sure to check the bottles before you buy or if you have a bottle sitting on the shelf for months.

2. The Conditioner is Clumping Together.

If you grab your bottle of conditioner when you’re in the shower, squeeze it into your palm, and it looks like curdled milk; you won’t want to put this on your hair. Clumping together is an indication that it’s expired.

It’s not only gross to look at, but it won’t feel terrific when you try to soothe it through your hair. The clumpiness won’t moisturize as it should and won’t spread evenly.

3. It Has a Funky Smell.

How To Tell if Your Hair Conditioner Is Expired or Went Bad - Funky Smell

Most people don’t experience this, but if you try to use your hair conditioner and it doesn’t smell like it’s supposed to, bacteria probably has started to grow in the bottle.

Bacteria growing in the bottle will cause your conditioner to go bad quickly. Not only will the product not work well on your hair anymore, but you won’t leave the shower with delicious-smelling hair.

4. The Product Is Separating.

Besides clumping, another physical feature of an expired hair conditioner is separating. You might see the oils and liquids start to separate from larger clumps of hardened ingredients.

You’ll be able to see this immediately once you put the product in your hand. You won’t be able to rub the ingredients back together, and it won’t feel very nice in your hands.

Therefore, you probably won’t want to even attempt lathering it into your hair.

5. The Conditioner Is Discolored.

How To Tell if Your Hair Conditioner Is Expired or Went Bad - Discoloration

Even if you squeeze your hair conditioner into your hand and it smells normal and isn’t clumping or separating, you’ll want to look at the color.

If it seems normal, you’re more than likely fine, but your conditioner might have expired if the color has changed.

When bacteria grows, it can cause the product to change color. It might be a subtle color change, but even the slightest change of color might be an indication of a larger problem.

6. It’s Affecting Your Hair Color.

How To Tell if Your Hair Conditioner Is Expired or Went Bad - Affecting Hair Color

With washing and conditioning, your hair color will fade over time, but if you notice that your hair color is fading or changing when you use your conditioner, you might want to consider throwing the product away.

Not only is it frustrating that your hair color is changing, but it can damage your hair to use an expired product on your dyed hair.

7. It’s Not Moisturizing Your Hair Anymore.

The whole point of using conditioner is to keep your hair nice and moisturized. If you’re using a conditioner that usually leaves your hair soft but feels like it’s not nearly as smooth as it used to be, you might be dealing with an expired hair conditioner.

This sign might be more challenging to take note of, but you’ll want to pay close attention.

Even if your bottle says it’s not expired, it could be starting to deteriorate, and you’ll want to consider buying something new.

8. It Suddenly Starts Irritating Your Scalp.

How To Tell if Your Hair Conditioner Is Expired or Went Bad - Scalp Irritation

Another telltale sign that your conditioner is past its prime is that you’re getting scalp irritation when you use it when you never did before.

It could be a mild irritation, or you might notice your scalp is red when you get out of the shower.

The reason for this could be bacteria growth that’s irritating your scalp and a messed up combination of ingredients that have all gone bad.

The irritation can be mild to severe, but you’ll want to watch this sign. If you have scalp irritation, it’s best to stop using the product immediately, wash it out of your hair, and toss the conditioner.

9. You’re Losing Hair.

How To Tell if Your Hair Conditioner Is Expired or Went Bad - Hair Loss

This sign that your conditioner is expired isn’t as common as others on our list, but it’s worth mentioning in case it happens to you.

We all shed a little bit, but if you notice more hair than normal falling out in the shower or brushing your hair after using your conditioner, it’s likely expired.

Before you throw out your conditioner, look for other signs that it’s expired and that it’s not something else causing your hair loss.

What’ll Happen If You Use an Expired Conditioner?

When you use an expired conditioner, you might not experience any issues, but there’s still a chance. You might experience scalp irritation and itching, which could potentially damage your hair color, or you might even experience hair loss.

You should be good to go if you know the warning signs and dispose of your hair conditioner at signs of expiration.


Do you still have questions about how to deal with or recognize expired hair conditioners? Here are some frequently asked questions on hair conditioners and their expiration.

Can hair conditioners go bad?

Yes, after some time, hair conditioners can go bad. Most people don’t run into this issue because they’re regularly using conditioner, but if you purchase several containers at once and want to make sure you use them before they go bad, check the label for expiration dates.

Do leave-in conditioners expire?

Yes, leave-in conditioners can expire. Usually, they will last for at least 12 months, maybe longer, depending on the formula.

What to do with expired conditioner?

The best thing you can do if you have an expired conditioner is to throw it away. You can also dump the contents into the sink or garbage before rinsing the container out and recycling it, as long as the container is recyclable.

Can expired conditioner cause hair loss?

While it’s unlikely, it is possible that using an expired conditioner can cause hair loss for some people.

How to store conditioner to increase longevity?

The best way to store conditioner to increase longevity is to keep moisture out of the container, store the conditioner at room temperature, and keep your fingers out of the container to prevent spreading bacteria.

So, how to tell if your hair conditioner is expired? Hair conditioner is something you wouldn’t think can expire, but it does.

While it takes several years usually, knowing the warning signs can prevent you from using a product that no longer works or worse.

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