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Does Hair Dye Ever Expire?

Are you on the fence about using hair dye that you purchased in middle school and recently found in a hidden alcove under the sink? Are you thinking, “all these chemicals will outlast us all, so why not?” Or are you thinking, “what if I dye my hair black and it comes out orange?” We had no idea. On one hand, what’s the harm? On the other, there might be harm! So, we did what we always do and asked the experts. In this case, we turned to one of the kings of color, Mane Master, and celeb colorist Guy Tang to answer the age-old question: does hair dye expire?

So, Does Hair Dye Expire?

Let’s get right into it. “Yes, hair dye does expire,” says Guy. We’d like to offer formal congratulations to all the winners of the hair dye expiration bet.

“Check the PAO symbol on the hair color box to determine how long it is good for after opening,” he shares. “The PAO symbol looks like a little open jar with a number representing the number of months” hair dye will last.

What About Unopened Hair Dye?

Not everyone goes through color that quickly, but in general you want to use your supply. Remember to buy what you will actually need or use so you don’t create waste. “I use a lot of hair color all the time,” Guy exclaims. “How quickly I use it depends on what type of hair techniques I am doing at the time on my clients.”

Instead, the main difference between fresh hair dye and older dye is less about the date and more about whether it’s still sealed. “You can tell the difference between unopened and opened hair color. When it has been opened the color crème will oxidize a little,” he notes.

Does It Depend on the Brand?

The differences don’t stop there and are nuanced. “There are differences between every hair color brand both professional and retail,” says Guy. “The differences are in each formula,” he continues. “Such as with #mydentity color, we have included a lavender fragrance for a spa-like salon experience and ingredients to help protect your hair color from heat fading and add shine.” So, shop wisely and don’t push your hair dye to the limit—fresh and new will generate better results and give you peace of mind. But, we aren’t judging.

Not sure what to do with your expired dye? HERE are a few unexpected ways to use leftover hair dye!

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