NHP is reader-supported. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Can expired shampoo cause hair loss? You may be wondering about this problem if you aren’t quite sure if your expired bottle of shampoo is still usable, without hair-damaging consequences.
Don’t worry. You’re not alone. And I’ll tell you if it’s safe to use expired shampoo or not.
So before you lather up with that Suave, Pantene, or MoroccanOil hydration shampoo, check out what I know about shampoo expiration dates.
You'll learn how to tell if a bottle of shampoo or conditioner is past its prime, any and all risks involved and what may affect the shelf life.
[RELATED ARTICLE: Hair growth tutorial #1]
The answer is yes, but it’s extremely unlikely that expired shampoo will cause hair loss.
To lose hair from expired shampoo or conditioner the product would have to be so old that it grew dangerous bacteria that could cause hair issues.
So, the answer is a “technical” yes. Yet, it’s not something to worry about. If the shampoo or conditioner was damaged to such a high level it would be apparent and obvious because of mold or a noxious odor.
If you're looking at and smelling your shampoo and still wondering, “Can expired shampoo cause hair loss?”, you don’t have a product that will cause hair loss on your hands.
That’s not to say it will be best for your hair results, especially if it’s “head and shoulders” past its expiry date. Pun absolutely INTENDED.
In the rare situation that you have expired shampoo so old that it has grown molds or fungus, that’s when your danger red flag should go up.
This extreme expiration level of shampoo poses the risk of spreading harmful bacteria to your scalp and causing an infection.
Scalp infections can cause hair loss, dandruff, open sores, redness and irritation. The bacteria can also be spread to other areas of your skin and body.
But when was the last time you saw a shampoo with mold or fungus? Never, right? Also…
Most labels for shampoo and conditioner expiration are usually not reflective of the true life of the product (it’s usually longer than stated to be on the safe side). I don’t believe that you should have a problem with hair loss from simply using an outdated shampoo.
To keep it ALL THE WAY CUTE though…
I’d definitely recommended grabbing a fresh bottle of a premium-grade hydrating shampoo or luxuriously moisturizing repair conditioner.
Because using shampoo that's past it's use by date can result in your hair looking dull, lacking luster and not looking or feeling as clean as you'd expect.
At the more extreme end an expired shampoo or conditioner may cause itching or irritation to your scalp due to the hair product's chemical change.
You won’t worry about can expired shampoo cause hair loss or not if you learn how to read shampoo expiration dates and understand certain usage codes.
Although, I’ll admit to you that finding out if your shampoo has expired isn’t always as simple as should be.
Especially as this kind of information is often left off of the shampoo bottle or container because the FDA does not require shampoo bottles to display an expiration date on the label.
Which is another clue that hair loss from expired shampoo isn’t really “a thing”.
Even if your shampoo does contain information on how long after opening you can use the product, it might be difficult to remember the exact year that you purchased the hair cleanser.
However, not all hope is lost. Here are 3 different manners in which you can check the expiration of your shampoo:
#1 - Look For The PAO Container Symbol on Back of Bottle
Always check to see if there is an expiration date on the bottle. Many shampoos, conditioners and hair growth products have what’s called a “PAO” image on the back, which means “product after opening”.
The PAO expiration symbol will typically be located near the products UPC code and will display the image of a little container with a number inside of it, such as 6, 8, or 12.
That indicates you can expect 6, 8, or 12 months of pre-expiry use after you have opened the bottle, you can count on double that amount of time if you haven’t opened the bottle.
So keep your eyes peeled for this.
This is usually located near the bottom of the bottle.
This number gives you an indication of how long your shampoo will last before officially expiring.
#2 - Check The LOT Code On The Bottle
As I told you before, the FDA does not require shampoo and conditioner bottles to display an expiration date or code on the label.
The responsibility, therefore, falls into the manufacturer’s hands instead. Yet, even some of the highest-rated shampoos on the market don’t have expiration dates on their bottles.
Some companies like MoroccanOil brand shampoos and conditioner, Eden Bodyworks shampoos and others fail to include any information regarding the expiration date, while some include a LOT code.
This code can be used to find out information regarding the shampoo – when and where it was manufactured.
There are also websites, like www.checkcosmetic.net, that let you search for a shampoo, conditioner or other product type to find out the shelf life.
Be aware that information regarding newer shampoo brands might not yet be available on this website.
#3 - Use Your Senses
Often, if a shampoo or conditioner has expired you will notice straight away just by the appearance and/or funky smell.
When certain ingredients are exposed to the elements for too long, it can cause a rancid smell.
Look out for any differences in the scent or your shampoo’s look and texture. This is usually a clear sign that the product needs to be disposed of. Even still, it’s very unlikely these expired shampoos would cause hair breakage loss.
Answer: Yes, shampoos and conditioners do expire even if not opened. It’s not a myth. Shampoo does take longer to expire when unopened though. If you get a 1-year expiration opened, in general you can expect 2 years on unopened shampoo.
If there’s no label on your shampoo, a good rule is to keep unopened bottles for no more than three years and an opened bottle for at most 18 months. Any more time after that you may be pushing it!
You may find some shampoo products don't necessarily follow these expiration time rules, so it may be wise to keep an “expiration journal” for your favorite hair products so you can keep track of when they tend to go bad.
Let’s make a deal. No more asking me “Can expired shampoo cause hair loss?”, that’s solved and now you have some good tips and tricks to keep you from even dealing with expired shampoo in the future.
The best way to keep track of how long you’ve had your shampoo is by labeling your “bought on” date on the bottle with a permanent marker or making a product expiration journal.
Make a note of the date you bought and opened the shampoo bottle, and be sure to toss it after 18 months or so (at most, for a conventional shampoo) after you opened it.
You can minimize the risk of bacterial contamination by touching the opening of the bottle as little as possible when pouring shampoo into your hand.
And it helps to maximize the lifespan of your shampoo by storing the product in a cool, dry place.
Shampoo shelf life might seem like an unnecessary thing to worry about, and as long as you’re not holding onto opened bottles for over a year, there’s probably no cause for alarm or to think your hair is going to fall out because of it.
It’s definitely worth taking the pain of caution to avoid bacterial scalp infections, though.
So if you find yourself considering using a long-held mystery bottle of shampoo that might have been opened a long time ago and expired, you’re probably better off tossing it and grabbing a new bottle of the good stuff at Amazon.
If you enjoyed this "Can expired shampoo cause hair loss?" article and need a new shampoo, check out this article about black soap shampoo for Alopecia.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee is a Contributing Editor to NHP and a former owner of the BlackhairOMG website. She formed 4C Trichology Growth Services, LLC., a US based hair care consultation service. She has also contributed as a writer and consultant for various hair and beauty websites. Melissa can be followed on Twitter here.