Does Shampoo Expire? Here’s All You Need To Know!

Out of all of the haircare products, shampoo is arguably the one that’s in most demand. That’s why the shampoo market is worth almost $30 billion US dollars. But there are many things about shampoo that people don’t know, such as whether or not this product can expire.

So, does shampoo expire? Can you use expired shampoo? We will answer these questions and more.

Does Shampoo Expire?

The short answer is yes, shampoo can expire. That’s because you expose the shampoo to the elements when you open the bottle. This could be oxygen that will degrade the performance of the ingredients. At worst, bacteria can get into your poo bottle.

Why Does Shampoo Expire?

All shampoos have unique formulas and ingredients. But the one fact that exists for all shampoos is that the ingredients will degrade after a certain time.

Every shampoo is different. While every shampoo cleans your hair, many products contain special ingredients to improve your hair in different ways. For example, if you struggle with dandruff, you likely use a shampoo that’s formulated to reduce dandruff.

To get the most benefit from shampoo, be sure to use your shampoo during the time period recommended on the bottle. Does this mean shampoos print an expiration date on the bottle?

Is There an Expiration Date on Shampoo?

There usually is. The icon looks like an opened container, and the container has a number printed on it, followed by the letter “M.” The “M” stands for “months,” and the number represents how many months the shampoo is good for after you have opened the bottle. Most shampoo expiration dates are anywhere between 12 and 24. This means the shampoo is good for 12-24 months (1-2 years) for an opened bottle

However, not all shampoo bottles may have this symbol. That’s because hair care and beauty products aren’t required to state expiration dates on their products (or at least they’re not in the US).

Let’s say your shampoo bottle has the “use by” symbol, and it reads 12 M. If you still have the product by the 13th month, should you chuck it? Not so fast. This symbol doesn’t translate to “expire” as food does. This timeframe is more of a recommendation from the manufacturer; if it’s unopened shampoo, it will last much longer.

Not only that but do you really remember when you opened that bottle of shampoo in your cupboard? Probably not. That’s why you should identify the signs of expired shampoo, which we will cover in another section. In addition, there’s a chance that your shampoo can go bad quicker than you think. This brings us to our next point.

Can Anything Cause Shampoo to Expire Quicker?

Making any of these mistakes can cause your shampoo to go back quickly:

  • Placing the bottle in direct sunlight or heat
  • Not closing the lid fully after use
  • Pouring water or other substances into the shampoo bottle

In addition, certain shampoos have a shorter shelf life than others and are more vulnerable to expiring. Organic shampoo and any sulfate-free shampoos are perfect examples of this. Even though synthetic preservatives can be dangerous, they do increase the shelf life of any product, including shampoo.

How to Tell If Your Shampoo Is Bad

So you found an old bottle of shampoo, you can’t remember when you purchased it, and you’re not sure if it’s still good. Rather than rummaging through your memory trying to remember when you purchased it, here are some tips that can quickly tell you whether a shampoo is good or bad.

Pour It Into Your Hands

When you pour shampoo into your hands, it should be thick and creamy. Runny, watery shampoo is a sure sign it’s gone bad. A watery texture is a sign that the proteins have all broken down and the shampoo is no longer effective.

You’ll still want to lather it up in your hands, just to be safe. With damp hands, rub the product in your hands. When shampoo is of good quality, it foams and bubbles up. If it doesn’t, it likely won’t work the way it should.

Smell It

Even if you don’t remember the smell of your old shampoo, shampoo is supposed to smell fresh or not have any scent at all. If you take a whiff and smell a bad fragrance, you shouldn’t use the shampoo. A common scent that people smell is wet dogs when they smell bad shampoo. This usually indicates there are bacteria in the shampoo.

Other Ways to Tell

Scent and the feeling are sure ways to tell if you can get away with using old shampoo or not, but these aren’t the only tests you should do.

When the shampoo is in your hands, make sure it isn’t clumpy. Shampoo should feel smooth and creamy in your hands. You should also pay attention to the shampoo color, but this can be challenging if you don’t remember the previous color of your shampoo.

Even if your shampoo passes all of these tests, it can still be bad. When using the shampoo, keep effectiveness in mind. Let’s say the shampoo you’re using is a cleansing/clarifying shampoo. If your dried hair still feels oily with product build-up, the shampoo is likely ineffective and should be tossed.

But with this last point, you’re probably wondering if you should be using expired shampoo at all.

Can You Use Expired Shampoo?

Fortunately, if you use expired shampoo, nothing dangerous will happen. It’s not like eating expired food, where you risk sickness. But with time, shampoo does go through chemical changes. This means you won’t experience drastic negative effects, but the expired product will no longer be effective.

In other words, you can expect your hair to look dirty or at least dull, not healthy and shiny as it usually does.

However, you should be wary if you have a sensitive scalp. The worst side effect of using expired shampoo is skin irritation and itchiness. If you use old shampoo and notice it’s irritating your scalp, toss it.

Can Other Beauty Items Expire?

If you never knew shampoo could expire, you’re probably wondering if there is another hair care product in your bathroom that can expire. I’m sorry to say, but yes, they can expire.


Toothpaste does expire and every toothpaste (or at least in the US) is required to provide an expiration date. Use the toothpaste within this timeframe to not only ensure effectiveness but also safety. If you use expired toothpaste, it won’t clean your teeth as well and you risk plaque build-up and cavities.


Makeup expires and its strength expires once you open the packaging. But as with shampoo, cosmetics companies aren’t required to include the expiration date (though many do). If a makeup product doesn’t have an expiration date, it’s safe to assume that you shouldn’t use a specific product for longer than two years.

Can you use makeup past its expiration date? Since you’re using mascara in sensitive areas, such as the eyes and lips, it’s not recommended. Makeup can harbor bacteria, which can cause unsightly bumps and irritation. Even using expired eye makeup can cause pink eye and other eye infections.

But c’mon, none of us are perfect.

Most of us are guilty of keeping old makeup products around. And for the most part, most of us don’t suffer negative effects from using old makeup.

I’m actually using a mascara that’s at least a year old (experts recommend you toss mascara after three months, even though mascara can last two years), and am not having any issues. However, I’ve definitely used expired lipstick and it caused serious lip irritation. I’ve also had some eyeshadow palettes for years and still don’t have any issue using them.

However, that doesn’t mean you should continue using old makeup products. I constantly buy new makeup and prioritize using the new stuff first. I just keep the old products as extras.

Hydrogen Peroxide

The expiration on the bottle of hydrogen peroxide usually states it’s good for as long as three years. However, once you open the bottle, the product is really only good for up to six months.

Rubbing Alcohol

Unlike hydrogen peroxide, you can use rubbing alcohol for the duration of the timeframe printed on the bottle. This timeframe is usually two-three years after opening.


Sunscreen is also a product usually has an expiration date. However, some sunscreens won’t include them (though this is rare). Either way, you shouldn’t keep sunscreen longer than three years after opening it. This is important because the sunscreen may not be able to protect you from the sun after this time period.


Question: Can I Use Other Expired Hair Products?

Answer: Shampoo isn’t the only hair product that expires. Actually, all hair products come with an expiration date. And all hair products, no matter if it’s a conditioner or a styling spray, all have the same side effects when expired: they won’t be as effective and at worst will cause irritation.
The exception is if you never opened a hair product. If the product is unopened and has been stored in a dark, dry place, you can likely use it way past the expiration date.

Question: What Is the Purpose of Shampoo?

Answer: Shampoo removes oil, dirt, and product from the scalp and hair strands. However, there are different shampoos that have specific needs. Common examples include moisturizing hair and reducing dandruff.

Question: What Is the Best Shampoo in the World?

Answer: Everyone will have a different answer for this. Moroccan Oil Moisture Repair Shampoo is one of the highest-rated shampoos. I’ve never used the shampoo but love the conditioner in this line as well as the leave-in conditioner and hair oil. Nexxus is usually my go-to shampoo brand. If I feel like spending a pretty penny, I use Pureology. For cheap brands, I usually choose OGX or Dove.

Question: Where Did Shampoo Get Its Name?

Answer: The name “shampoo” is kind of a funny word, right? The word “shampoo” actually comes from the Hindi word “cchampo” which means “press.” Before showers, bathing was seen as a massage and cleansing was a part of this ritual. When someone would clean their hair, another person almost gave them a head massage, which is why “press” is associated with “cleaning hair.”

Question: What Is the Worst Shampoo in the World?

Answer: Again, everyone will have a different answer. I’m not a fan of super cheap brands, such as Herbal Essence, Pantene, VO5, and Suave. I’ve also used expensive brands that were subpar. For example, I’m personally not a fan of Bumble and Bumble.

Question: How Did We Clean Hair Before Shampoo?

Answer: Believe it or not, shampoo hasn’t been around forever. Ancient cultures, specifically in India, used herbs to clean the scalp. The first “shampoo” came from ancient India, where people would boil gooseberry, soapberry, and herbs. From here, the recipe evolved. The first shampoos were available as soap bars and then turned into liquid form.

Question: Can Shampoo Help Your Hair Grow?

Answer: There are shampoos that can increase hair growth, or at least help your hair grow faster. Find shampoos formulated with Biotin. Even cheaper brands, such as OGX and Shea Moisture, offer hair growth shampoos.

Question: What’s the Best Shampoo for Oily Hair?

Answer: There are a few recommendations, but I personally like Nexxus Clean and Pure. It’s a gentle detoxifying shampoo that will clean up all oil, dirt, sweat, and product build-up. Another recommendation is Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo. Tea tree is a great deep cleansing ingredient that’s also gentle. Paul Mitchell’s shampoo also won’t strip your hair of existing moisture.

Question: How Do I Know If I’m Using a Good Shampoo?

Answer: Everyone has different hair types, so shampoo quality varies for everyone. It’s best to know your hair type and any hair goals that you have. At the very least, your shampoo should clean away any oil, dirt, sweat, and product build-up. It should lather well and rinse out easily.
At the same time, your shampoo should keep your hair manageable and shiny. It should retain your moisture so your hair doesn’t get too dry.


Just about everyone uses shampoo, but not many people know that shampoo expires. Keep shampoo expiration in mind and don’t forget to check for that expiration date! This ensures that your shampoo will clean your hair effectively.

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