Every product has an expiration date. But what to do when that date has rubbed off and you can’t tell if the product is good to use? Read this article to find out *wink*. Most of us have half-empty shampoo and conditioner bottles in our bathrooms and it gets tough to keep track of all the expiry dates. If you’re thinking about reaching for a product you haven’t touched in a while, here’s how you can determine if that product is expired or still good to use.

But before we get into the signs, let’s go over some basics.


Shelf life vs. expiration date

Shelf life vs. expiration date

Shelf life is mentioned on a small container icon on every product. They’re generally written as 12M meaning that the product will remain usable 12 months after opening it. 6M being 6 months, 24M being 24 months and so on. The expiration date of the product indicates that the product can last up until that particular date if remained sealed. The moment the lid is opened and oxygen touches your product, you have to start considering the shelf life over the expiration date.

While this is important to know, there are a few easy giveaways when trying to distinguish between usable and expired products. Here are five things you need to keep an eye on to ensure you’re not using foul products on your hair.


01. The texture is different

The texture is different

When the formula goes bad, the first thing you notice is separation in the product. You might see a greasy liquid separated from your shampoos or conditioners. This happens because over time, bacteria build-up starts tearing the formula apart and the ingredients no longer stay bound. Sometimes it also gets runny and watery.


02. It’s clumpy

It’s clumpy

Similar to separation, when you start noticing clumps, your product has broken down and gone stale. Shampoos, conditioners or masks start forming tiny clumps once they’ve gone bad and they’re no longer smooth and easy to apply. Sure, products often solidify a little when the climate is colder. But when this happens, you will know! Its clumps tend to look thicker and feel harder than winter freezing. In some cases, you can also see discolouration and darkness in the chunky bits.


03. It has a strange tint

It has a strange tint

If it has a green, strange colour that it shouldn’t have, just don’t use it. Worst case - it’s mould. In the best case scenario, it’s separated. Either way, this is a clear indication that your hair care product has passed its expiration date and you need to throw it out. If it hasn’t been very long since you bought it and it falls under the shelf life and date mentioned on the package, shake your product well. Heat can sometimes cause separation. But if the colour remains after you’ve shaken the bottle, it’s a no-go.


04. It smells funny

It smells funny

Hair products usually smell fruity and flowery and we love that about them! If your hair care favourite smells anything different than the first day you bought it, it’s probably past its expiry date. Just like food, the first sign of anything going bad is a rancid stench. Even if it’s a mild odour but smells different, it still could be expired.


05. It isn’t working the way it used to

It isn’t working the way it used to

Let’s say you forgot to check the signs and ended up using them. If your product is not performing the way it used to, chances are, it’s expired. Any haircare, skincare or makeup product is good only till the ingredients hold up well together. When it passes a certain span, the efficacy is lost. It’s not too late even if you accidentally end up using it. Try checking the dates on the packaging right away and just ensure you throw it out asap so you don’t end up repeating this mistake. If the date is rubbed off, don’t take the risk and throw it away. Constant use of expired products can cause itchiness, redness on the scalp, infections and worst case, even hair loss.