Does Dandruff Shampoo Expire?

An anti-dandruff shampoo is one of the common things you will find in most households probably because there are so many people who have dandruff in their hair. And when it comes to such shampoos, a lot of people wonder: does dandruff shampoo expire?

First of all, one should know that everything has a lifespan and after that, they go bad. The same can be said about dandruff shampoos or just regular shampoos. They are made from ingredients that have their own lifespan, and when their expiration time comes, they should not be used. Some bottles have expiration dates clearly printed while others specify how long it can be used after the date of manufacturing. Also, some bottles have an expiration symbol in the form of an open container with a number on it for example 18M. This means you can use the product for 18 months after opening it.

When Does Dandruff Shampoo Expire?

If you look for the expiration date on most shampoos including those that are anti-dandruff, you will see that the expiration date is few years from the date they were manufactured. This means that you can use the shampoo for a couple of years. Now ask yourself, how long would the bottle last? Probably not more than a few months. So in all likelihood, you will be throwing away the bottle before the expiration date comes.

Besides chemical ingredients, there are conditioners and lotions in these shampoos that after a certain period of time may go bad. Shampoos do have preservatives in them that make sure that the ingredients do not contaminate. While most bottles would have an expiry date mentioned, in case the one you have does not, the manufactured date should help you.

If your shampoos expiration date passes, it does not mean the shampoo is bad for use. It could simply mean that it may not do its job, especially in case of dandruff shampoos. In fact, the appearance and smell of the shampoo should tell you if it is usable. If it has a changed smell or contains lumps, you should not use it at all.

As for anti-dandruff shampoos that are medicated, strictly follow the expiration dates. They contain rather stronger active ingredients which can be bad for your scalp skin and hair of course. Also, you should not use such shampoos longer than what has been prescribed by your dermatologists. These are not like over the counter dandruff shampoos that only have mild dandruff fighting ingredients.

The interesting thing about expiration dates is that it is primarily a time period in which a product’s efficacy has been tested. For instance, a company continuously tested a product for a period of two years and found it to be functional and decided to keep an expiry date of two years. In reality, it is very much possible that the product could go on for another two years. Nevertheless, expiry dates are no joke and should be taken into account.

What Happens if You Use Expired Shampoo?

There is no definitive answer to this as it all depends on the ingredients and how they react after reaching the expiration date. Firstly, it will not do its job whatever it is designed for. Secondly, you could experience hair fall or dry scalp.

But the logical and straightforward point of action is to not to use dandruff shampoo or any other product after the expiration date no matter if there are any reported side effects or not.

Some people who buy things in bulk even choose to ignore these dates. That can be a bit risky especially with products like shampoos that contain active ingredients. If you have used an expired shampoo by mistake and are experiencing any damage, you should consult your dermatologist. They will probably prescribe you another shampoo or some type of medicine to reverse the damage.

Anti-dandruff shampoos usually have long expiration dates so you will probably use them through before that date approaches. Expiration dates usually signify the period after which the product will lose its efficiency. It does not necessarily mean that the product would go bad or become hazardous. Nevertheless, it is risky to products whose expiration date has passed, and you should not put something as important as your own hair on the line.


In a nutshell, the simple answer to the original question “does dandruff shampoo expire?” is yes. Just like any other product, they also have a lifespan and it is advised to not to use them when they are expired.

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