Boxed, Unboxed and Opened Hair Dye expiration Signs
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If you are like me and most people out there, you love discounts. Whenever I see something discounted I purchase it immediately. When see that the price of my favorite Hair Dye has been slashed in half, I get into frenzied bulk buying mode. Up to a couple of weeks ago, I believed that Hair Dye had no expiration date, no matter what. I mean, you buy it and just use it whenever you have the time and feel like. During my last Hair Salon visit however, they strongly advised me against this. I was in a rush and didn’t have the time to ask any further questions. I mean, does hair dye expire? If it does, why? After getting home, I decided that it was time for a little bit of independent research.
Why does hair dye expire or go bad?
Hair dye, like any other beauty products can be compromised. I mean, it’s stored in boxes and tubes for a reason. This is why the more time passes since it comes out of the factory, the greater the chances of spoilage. Remember that hair dye has to color you hair, avoid damaging your hair and not affect your skin health. A lot of roles require a lot of compounds. More compounds mean that there are more things that can make it go bad. Here is a list of things that can affect hair dye.
Boxed, unopened hair dye
Hair dye containers have been made to preserve the chemicals inside in the best possible way. Fact of the matter is, these containers can sometimes be compromised. There are a few things that can affect your hair dye even when it’s left unopened and stored properly.
Direct sunlight – It will warm up the dye inside the box, thus rendering it useless and separating the ingredients
Moisture – While the damages of moisture/water directly on hair dye as not as immediate as from Sun/Air, it will compromise the package. Water will also cause small oxidation, but at a much slower pace when compared to air exposure.
Damage to the packaging – This one is really a no-brainer. Any tearing, piercing or damage to the packaging will cause the hair dye to go bad because of the aforementioned factors.
Open hair dye
Once you have opened the container of the dye it is just a matter of time before it expires. No matter how well you re-seal the packaging, you are always better off buying a new one instead. Still, if the time period between the initial opening and using is relatively short (a couple of weeks) the dye can still be good to use. So what are the causes of hair dye going bad?
Air – It will cause for rapid oxidation. The peroxide that is contained inside most hair dye brands will quickly react with the oxygen from the Air, rendering it useless.
Reacting with other chemicals – Once opened, there is always a small chance that your hair dye has come in contact with numerous elements. Being very reactive to pretty much anything, this is an even bigger problem than air exposure.
Microbiotic factors – There are microorganisms that actually thrive from the ammonia contained in hair dye. Combine this with the cold, dark environment that is the container and you have yourself a problem.
Mixed hair dye
Once you have mixed your hair dye, you must use it right away. It is as simple as that. The longer mixed dye stays in the open the more dangerous it becomes. To explain it simply, the chain reactions that start when you mix your dye end in matter of hours. If you use it right away, these processes happen on your head and help your hair absorb more dye etc. But after they have done their role in ensuring proper coloring, the chemicals break down to skin and hair damaging compounds. This is why you wash you hair after dyeing it after all. No matter how tightly you seal it and no matter how well you store it, mixed hair dye cannot be used at a later date. Treat it as if it has an immediate expiration date.
Why are there no expiration dates on hair dye boxes?
If you have a keen eye you might have noticed that up to a couple of years ago, there was an expiration date printed on the box of all types of hair dye. Usually this would mean that up to that certain point in time the hair dye could be used safely without anything to worry. Everything past that, you just throw it away. New research however, showed that when stored properly, hair dye can last indefinitely. This prompted the big beauty brands to stop printing it on the box. I mean, is there a better marketing slogan than “Our product lasts forever”.
One thing they deliberately forgot was the “when stored properly” part. Theoretically, when stored in a cool, dry and dark place, hair dye does not have an expiration date. But how many of us have a special moist-free, light-free mini-fridge that we use only to store our hair dye? Let me guess. None. Even if we had one, do you actually buy the dye directly from the factory on the day it is made? No, you buy it from the store. Do they have the mini-fridges? You get my point.
Other, a bit more consumer aware brands reverted to printing out the shelf life. But how can you make use of this information if the date of production is not printed out on the box? After all, you don’t know how long did it sit on the shelves. You would have two options. Either you have to guess the month/year of production by the code that the company put on there for their own tracking purposes (which looks like A-44 or 24335 or whatever). The second option is to call the company directly and after going through 3 sets of different answering machines, give them the batch number so they can tell you.
Effects of using expired Hair Dye
Remember what we talked about at the beginning of this article? Hair dye has two primary functions. First, and most obvious, is to dye your hair in a certain color. The second one that most people forget about is skin and hair protection. After all, you are putting chemicals on your scalp in order to change it’s color. But why is this important to us? Well, using expired hair dye can affect either one of these functions or both. This is why the results will vary greatly from person to person. From very mild, like color washing off, to something much more severe, such as scalp burns. Add this to the fact that different people will react to different beauty products. Different skin and hair types will experience different side effects of using (expired) hair dye. While we do not recommend using expired hair dye, there are people out there that have and report these side-effects. Note: Some of these are quite serious.
- Hair Color Not Setting Right
- Different results in shade of color
- Hair dye washing off
- Fizzy Hair
- Brittle Hair
- Uneven distribution of hair color
- Itchy scalp and head skin
- Allergic reactions to products they have used for a long time
- Redness around the ears and forehead
- Burning sensation on the skin
- Teary eyes (rare)
- Extreme scalp skin burning (rare)
How to recognize if your hair dye has expired
Now that we have answered does hair dye expire and why, it is time for practical tips. So you have a box of hair dye in front of you. It hasn’t been opened, but you had it for quite a while. Before using it you would like to make sure that it’s not expired. While there are no way to tell if the hair dye has expired, except checking with the manufacturer, it is possible to see if the container has been compromised. Check for the following signs to see if the dye is still usable. In case you have open hair dye that you want to check if it has expired, skip to step 4 directly.
- First of all, check if the bottle has any noticeable swelling. If this is the case, then most surely the hair dye has expired and you are better of throwing it away. The only time you should skip this step is when you have hair dye in a hard container. Hard containers will not change their shape when pumped full of gasses.
- Check for any damage to the packaging. No matter how obvious is sounds, it’s the details that you have to pay attention to here. Make sure there are not even small tears and punctures.
- Check for signs of spoilage around the cap/lid of the container. It is possible that it has gotten loose and let air in. Loose lids will come off more easily than factory sealed ones. Also sometimes a yellow/red circle will form around the opening.
- Carefully open the hair dye container while holding it straight up. After opening slowly start tilting it. Do you see a transparent, water-like liquid coming out first? This means that the chemicals have split. If this is the case then the hair dye has gone bad.
- Squeeze some hair dye out of the container. If it has an unnaturally yellow/orange/green tinge then it has probably gone bad. Make sure, however, that this tinge is not actually meant to be there by checking the product box.
- Smell the hair dye. No matter how funny it sounds, hair dye smells like, well, hair dye. If you have felt it once, you know what I’m talking about. In case the smell is sweet, metallic or otherwise different from normal, your hair dye has expired.
- The final test is to mix it. Usually hair dye will be lighter than the color you want to achieve. As you start mixing, it will get to the desired color. If you hair dye is the color that is supposed to be the end product, this means that your hair dye has oxidized. In other words, it has expired.
Largest Hair Dye Brands Expiry Dates
In order to help you guys, our readers, I have decided to get a bit investigative. Most hair dye brands claim that their hair coloring products have different expiry dates. After digging through the websites of all of the largest brands to my surprise I couldn’t find anything on their products’ expiry dates. We are talking about Wella, Clarion, Revlon, Goldwell, Dove, Kolours and Zest among many others. The only major brand to provide an expiry date on hair dye was L’Oreal.
L’Oréal Paris Hair Dye Expiry Dates
L’Oréal seems to be a bit secretive when it comes to the shelf life of their products. Out of the huge network of websites that they have, only the Australian version touches on the subject of expiry dates. In a rather short paragraph in the FAQ part of their website it is stated that their products can be used up to three years after the date of production. They do not answer the question of when does the hair dye expire directly, at least not on the box. What I really like about L’Oréal though, is the fact that they have the open lid marker on their boxes. The open lid marker accompanied with a time period means that at least you have an estimation of how long you can use it after opening.