How Long Does Shampoo Last?

Shampoo is an essential part of our daily hair care routine, but have you ever wondered if it can expire? The shelf life of shampoo can vary depending on several factors, such as the ingredients used, the brand, and how it is stored. In this article, we will explore the lifespan of shampoo, how to identify if it has gone bad, and the best practices for ensuring your shampoo remains effective. So let’s dive in!

How Long Does Shampoo Last

Shampoo Expiration and Shelf Life

Unopened Shampoo: Generally, unopened shampoo can last for 2-4 years if stored properly. To ensure its longevity, it is crucial to store shampoo in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. Before using an unopened bottle of shampoo, always check the expiration date printed on the packaging.

Opened Shampoo: The shelf life of opened shampoo can vary based on factors like the type of shampoo, manufacturer, and ingredients used. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require cosmetics to have specific shelf lives or expiration dates on their labels, many shampoos come with a “period after opening” suggestion. This refers to the optimal shelf life of the shampoo after the bottle has been opened.

The shelf life of an opened bottle of shampoo can range between 6-18 months. Organic products and sulfate-free shampoos may have a shorter shelf life due to the absence of preservatives and the inclusion of more health-based ingredients.

Signs of Expired Shampoo

Using expired shampoo may lead to unsatisfactory results, such as dirty and dull-looking hair. Moreover, it can cause irritation or itchiness to your scalp and eyes due to chemical changes and allergens.

Here are some signs that indicate your shampoo has gone bad:

  1. Odd Odor: If your shampoo smells unusual or has a rancid odor, it may have expired.
  2. Becoming Clumpy: Expired shampoo might become thick and clumpy in texture, making it difficult to apply evenly.
  3. Discoloration: Changes in color, such as the shampoo turning cloudy or changing hue, are indications of potential expiration.
  4. Reduced Effectiveness: If your shampoo no longer cleans your hair effectively or fails to provide the desired results, it might be past its prime.
  5. Skin Irritation: Expired shampoo can cause skin irritation, redness, or itching when used on the scalp.

The Importance of Checking Expiration Dates

If your shampoo does not have an explicit expiration date, look for a symbol resembling a small container with the lid off. This symbol represents the “period after opening” suggestion and indicates the length of time the product is safe and effective for use after opening. For example, if you see “12 M” on the container, it means you should use the shampoo within 12 months of opening it.

Checking the expiration date or the “period after opening” suggestion is crucial for ensuring the shampoo remains potent and safe to use.

Proper Storage of Shampoo

To extend the shelf life of your shampoo, it is essential to store it correctly. Here are some tips for proper storage:

  1. Cool and Dry Place: Store your shampoo in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
  2. Tightly Closed Lid: Always ensure the shampoo bottle’s lid is tightly closed after each use to prevent exposure to air and contaminants.
  3. Avoid Humidity: Avoid storing shampoo in areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms, as moisture can degrade the product.

Disposing of Expired Shampoo

If you notice any signs of shampoo expiration or it is past its recommended use-by date, it’s best to dispose of the product properly. Pouring it down the drain is not environmentally friendly, as it can end up in water systems. Instead, check if your local recycling program accepts empty shampoo bottles or dispose of it as per your local waste disposal guidelines.


In conclusion, shampoo does expire, and its shelf life depends on various factors. Unopened shampoo can last up to three years, while opened shampoo may have a shelf life of 6 months to 18 month. Signs of expired shampoo include an odd odor, clumping, discoloration, reduced effectiveness, and skin irritation. Always check for expiration dates or “period after opening” suggestions to ensure the shampoo remains effective and safe for use.

Remember to store your shampoo properly in a cool and dry place, and if you suspect it has gone bad, dispose of it responsibly to protect the environment.


Can expired shampoo harm my health?

Expired shampoo may not harm your health directly, but it can lead to unsatisfactory results and scalp irritation.

Can I use my shampoo after the expiration date?

It’s best to avoid using shampoo past its expiration date or the “period after opening” suggestion for optimal results.

Are organic shampoos more prone to expiration?

Yes, organic and sulfate-free shampoos may have a shorter shelf life due to the absence of preservatives.

Is it safe to use shampoo without an expiration date?

If your shampoo lacks an expiration date, look for the “period after opening” symbol to gauge its usability.

How should I dispose of expired shampoo?

Dispose of expired shampoo responsibly according to your local waste disposal guidelines to protect the environment.

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