Hair Color

Does Hair Developer Expire? What Happens If You Use It?

You don’t wanna use an expired hair developer, here’s why…

Written by Anshita Singh

On Sep 20, 2023 – 7 minutes read

developer expiry

Hair dying is fun and often a necessity, but you don’t wanna go wrong with its “how-to” because we’re talking about your hair. They’re precious. Talking about hair developer, it’s easy to use, but there are some factors that you must consider before using it. One such factor is “Does hair developer expire?”

The simple answer to that question is yes, hair developer does expire. The hydrogen peroxide in the hair developer breaks over time, spoiling the product and making it “not fit” to be used.

In this blog, you’ll learn everything about hair development and its expiration period. So, let’s dig in…

When Does Developer Expire And What Is It?

Hair Developer is an oxidant cream containing hydrogen peroxide. Hair developer is mixed with the hair dye to activate the color, make it look vibrant on the hair, and make the hair dye last longer. 

what happens if you use expired developer

Basically, a hair developer opens up hair cuticles that allow the dye to penetrate deep into the hair and last longer. It is vital to use a hair developer while dyeing your hair for better color effectiveness and durability. 

Hair developer also helps in lightening the natural hair color so that the dye can show vibrantly and effectively on the hair. 

Does Hair Developer Expire? 

The simple answer to the question, “Does Hair Developer Expire”? is Yes! Hair color does expire. There are multiple reasons why a hair developer can go bad. Most of the hair developers will last for at least 3 years if they’re not opened. However, an open-hair developer can go bad within 24 weeks. Depending on whether it is opened or opened, the expiration period for all types of hair developers is almost the same. 

Let’s explore different types of hair developers: 

Does 20 Hair Developer Expire? 

Yes, 20 Hair Developer does expire. 20 Hair Developer is a type of hair developer that contains 6% hydrogen peroxide and lifts your hair color by one or two levels. This is the most common hair developer strength level used for hair dyeing, especially for covering gray hair.

Volume 20 Hair Developer can last up to 3 years when sealed. However, an opened bottle of Volume 20 hair developer lasts only for 6 months. 

Does Ion Hair Developer Expire? 

Yes, Ion hair developer expires. Ion is a hair care brand, and it also sells Hair developer in different volumes, including 10, 20, 30, and 40. The developer opens up the hair shaft and allows the hair color to penetrate deeply into the hair while bleaching dark colored hair, going blonde or transforming into a bold grey. Ion is a subsidiary of Shally Beauty and is well-recognized for its hair care products. 

ion hair developer

The shelf life of an unopened Ion Hair Developer bottle is at least 3 years. The opened Ion hair developer will last no more than 24 weeks. 

Does Cream Developer Expire? 

Yes, cream hair developer expires. Like any other hair developer, an unopened bottle of hair developer lasts up to 3 years, while an opened bottle can expire within 6 months. 

Does Hair Bleach Expire? 

Yes, Hair bleach expires. Hair bleach is a chemical agent that lightens the hair color by removing the pigment from your hair. A hair bleach usually lasts from 6 months to 3 years if it remains sealed, but an open package or bottle of bleach can expire within as little as 20 minutes. This is because of the oxidation process.

Expired bleach can cause skin irritation, hair loss, and infections. So make sure that you’re absolutely sure about the expiration of the hair bleach. 

How Long Does Hair Developer Last? 

Hair developers can last up to at least 3 years before they expire if they remain unopened or sealed. However, an opened bottle of hair developer will expire within 6 months. 

Hair developer expire due to hydrogen peroxide, a chemical component that breaks over time, losing its effectiveness and stability. An opened container of a hair developer will react with the components in the air and spoil more quickly. 

How Long Does Hair Developer Last Unopened?

An unopened bottle or container of hair developer can last up to 3 years, depending on the brand and quality of the hair developer. 

How Long Will Hair Developer Last After Opening?

After opening, a hair developer can last up to 6 months. 

Signs Your Developer Is Expired

The standard period for hair developer expiration is at least 3 years if remained unopened and at least 6 months once it is opened. However, you might not have kept track of when you last purchased your hair developer. In that case, to recognize whether your hair developer has expired or not, there are certain factors that you can check. Now that we have revealed the answer to “Does developer expire”, let’s learn to identify the signs:

1. Rough And Dry Consistency

With time, the water content of the hair developer can evaporate, leaving the product dry. On mixing, this hair developer can show an irregular consistency and a thick texture.

does hair developer go bad if left open

If you see crumbs while mixing, your hair developer might have gone bad. It is advised that you avoid using such hair developers, as they can have several negative effects that you’ll see below in this blog. 

2. Oil Residue

When you open the bottle of your hair developer and see oily residue sitting on top of the product, it means that the product is too old and is not compatible to be used. You’ll notice that the product color has also become darker. 

On mixing, the oil residue might disappear in the mix, but this doesn’t mean that the hair developer is good to be used. The chemical components can still damage your hair. 

3. Water Density

If you find that the consistency of your hair developer is too watery and runny, this means that the hair developer has been left unused for too long. The cause of this watery consistency is that the chemical content of the product has broken down with time, making the hair developer expire. A change in the consistency of the hair developer is a sign that the hair developer is expired and should not be used. 

spoiled hair bleach

4. Difficult To Open

Pay attention, we’re talking chemistry here. The hydrogen peroxide in the hair developer breaks down and turns into hydrogen and oxygen with time. If the hair developer is kept sealed for years, hydrogen peroxide can break and oxygen can build up on the top of the product. This will cause pressure in the bottle, and it will become difficult to open the bottle. This is one of the clear signs that the answer is nuh-uh to whether you can use such a hair developer. 

5. Different Smell

If you’re familiar with the smell of a hair developer, then you would know if the hair developer has gone bad. An expired hair developer will have an unusual smell, mostly rancid or musty, caused by oil residue or fungal development. 

6. Unusual color

Exposure to light, heat, and air can change the natural color of the hair developer because of the development of fungi and bacteria. Such hair developers can irritate your scalp or cause infections.

What will happen if you use an expired developer?

This is like asking what will happen if you drink stale milk, it can cause food poisoning. Similarly, an expired developer is like poison to your hair. It can spoil your precious hair. This is what happens when you use expired hair developer:

  1. Your hair color won’t turn out as expected. It might look different altogether or fade with time. 
  2. An expired hair developer can make your hair look rough. They will become dry and brittle since the expired hair developer can make your hair lose moisture. 
  3. Expired hair developer can cause irritation and itchiness on your scalp, which can further promote redness and flaking (1).
  4. You may develop bacterial infections on your scalp, such as folliculitis or cellulitis. 
  5. You may experience hair loss from the weakened hair follicles caused by an expired hair developer. 

The Bottom Line 

Hair developer is great and, more importantly, vital for hair dying. However, it is important that you check its expiration date since an expired hair developer can damage your hair or even worse, cause bacterial infection, scalp irritation, or redness. 

The basic standard to be considered about the hair developer is that it usually lasts up to 3 years if left unopened or sealed, but can expire within 6 months once opened. 


Can we use developer after expiry date?

It is advised not to use an expired hair developer since it can cause hair damage, scalp irritation, inflammation, bacterial infection, or redness.

Does hair color and developer expire?

Yes, hair color and developer have a shelf life of 3 years.

Does developer spoil hair?

Hair developer can spoil your hair if it is expired, used incorrectly, or used excessively.

What happens if you use expired hair dye?

It is not advised to use expired dye since it may not turn out to be the expected color. Also, it can cause an infection or allergic reaction to your scalp and damage your hair as well. 

  1. Wall, FLORENCE E. "Bleaches, hair colorings, and dye removers." Cosmetics: Science and Technology 2 (1972): 279-243.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Elevate your routine, stay on trend, and embrace a personalized beauty journey with our curated insights.

Anshitha sigh

As a seasoned critic, a style icon, and a compassionate relationship advisor, Anshita has carved a distinctive niche in the world of entertainment and personal development.

Reviewer name

Reviewer bio

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *