How Long Does Shampoo Expire? How to tell it expired?

How Long Does Shampoo Expire? How to tell it expired

If you often wonder, does shampoo expire, the short answer is YES, they do. Like all the other self-care products, shampoos come with an expiration date. This is a hard reality for people who tend to save products for later or put them off because it is expensive. But every beauty product has a shelf life.

The shampoo bottles have an expiration date mentioned on the back of the bottle. Most of the shampoos will last for 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months, marked as 12M, 18M or 24M with a PAO (period-after-opening) on the label. 

If the bottle is kept unopened, it will expire in a few years from the date of manufacturing. Even the best quality shampoos degrade over time.

How to Tell If Shampoo Has Expired

It is always advised to check the expiration date of an opened or unopened shampoo bottle. The expiration date or PAO is usually printed on the bottle to help you decide whether to keep or throw away your shampoo.

If there is no expiration date mentioned, or if you cannot remember when you opened the bottle first, a few ways can help you determine the same-

  • Visual inspection: To do a visual inspection, first open the cap of the shampoo bottle and take a look at the liquid inside. Usually, the oil-based ingredients will separate at the top, which means that the shampoo has gone wrong.
  • Lumps: You may find lumps inside the shampoo bottle due to chemical changes like oxidation. Also, the shampoo may look discolored.
  • Rancid smell: Giving your shampoo a sniff can also help detect if it has gone wrong. Expired shampoo often loses its fragrance and may even develop a foul odor if it’s a long way past its expiration.
  • Wash your hair: If there is no clear evidence that the shampoo has gone off, try it. See if the shampoo cannot clean properly and forms less lather. If so, it is a clear sign that it has lost its efficacy and should be thrown away.

Why Should You Not Use Expired Shampoo?

If you are enticed to use the shampoo that has expired, it will probably be a waste of time and energy. Expired shampoo loses its potency and it will not make it effective in cleansing your hair and scalp. As a result, the hair will end up looking dull and dirty.

Since the additives, preservatives, and sulfates are not any more effective in an expired shampoo, it is no longer stable. The chemical changes in the shampoo can cause irritation and itchiness to the scalp. Mold and bacteria begin to grow after that, eventually triggering bacterial and fungal infections on the scalp.

How to Increase the Shelf Life of a Shampoo?

Two factors help to determine whether to use the shampoo or throw it away. First is its expiration date and the other is the effectiveness of the ingredients. However, how the product is stored and cared for can also contribute to the early expiry of the shower.

While using and storing the shampoo, here are some tips to keep in mind to increase its shelf life.

  • Keep the product away from the direct sunlight or high heat.  
  • Store the bottle of shampoo in a cool and dark place.
  • Close the lid tightly once you are done using the shampoo to avoid exposure to moisture.
  • Avoid exposing it to water, humidity, or other products. That may contaminate the shampoo.
  • Organic, paraben and sulfate free shampoos may have a shorter shelf-life

How Long Does Shampoo Last?

How long does shampoo last

It depends on how long a bottle of shampoo will last on different brands. Generally, you will use the bottle before it expires.

An unopened shampoo bottle can last 2-4 years if stored properly. Meanwhile, an opened shampoo bottle may go bad anywhere between six months and two years. It also depends on the nature of the preservatives used in shampoo.

Preservatives are used in shampoo because many shampoos are water-based. Water-based shampoo makes the perfect breeding environment for harmful microorganisms. That is why shampoo contains preservatives that are either natural or synthetic. It safeguards the shampoo against bacterial contamination.

However, natural preservatives are less potent than synthetic ones. Therefore, shampoo containing synthetic preservatives has a longer shelf life.


Everything comes with an expiration date, and so does your shampoo. Unopened shampoo usually takes longer to expire than opened ones. Those shampoos with a higher concentration of natural substances or ingredients and fewer synthetic preservatives are likely to have a shorter shelf life.

Now that we have answered your query, does shampoo expire, it’s high time to check the expiration date of your shampoo bottle and check if any visual or sensory differences are there. 

Image Source : freepik

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