Does hairspray expire?

Does Hairspray Expire? How Long Can You Keep It?

Digging through your old beauty stash, have you ever picked up a hairspray can and wondered, “Does hairspray expire?” Well, you’re not alone.

Many of us have a collection of hair products that have been hanging around for who knows how long. Hairspray, while a trusted ally for those glam up-dos and wild hair days, has its own shelf life secrets.

Stick with me, and we’ll uncover the truth together.

Does Hairspray Expire?

Yes, hairspray does expire. While it might not spoil like food, over time, its effectiveness can diminish, and the ingredients can break down.

What Is the Average Lifespan of Hairspray?

On average, a hairspray can last anywhere from 1 to 3 years, depending on the brand and its ingredients. But not all brands print an expiration date on their products. Instead, many opt for a Period After Opening (PAO) mark.

Period After Opening (PAO) mark
PAO cosmetic icon, mark of period after opening. Expiration time after package opened, white label.

This symbol, a small drawing of a container with a number and the letter ‘M’, clues you in on how many months the hairspray will stay fresh after its first use. Typically, you’ll find this mark on the back of the product, often in the lower right-hand corner.

If your hairspray doesn’t have a PAO mark, don’t fret. Almost every product will have a batch code, usually located on the bottom. By reaching out to the company with this code, they can inform you when the product was manufactured.

Armed with this knowledge, you can estimate your hairspray’s remaining life. Remember, unopened products typically last around three years, but once you pop that cap, it’s best used within a year.

Factors That Can Make Hairspray Go Bad

Hairspray, while a reliable hair companion, is a bit delicate when it comes to the environments it’s stored in. Let’s dive deeper into what can harm its effectiveness:

  • Excessive Heat: Leaving your hairspray in a hot car or near a heating vent can cause the propellants in the can to destabilize. This means the next time you go to use it, the spray might not come out evenly, or at all. Moreover, heat can alter the chemical composition of the liquid, reducing its effectiveness.
  • Extreme Cold: On the other end of the spectrum, cold can be just as damaging. If hairspray is subjected to freezing temperatures, the contents can separate. The result? An uneven application that leaves your hair feeling less than fabulous.
  • Direct Sunlight: Continuous exposure to sunlight can break down the ingredients in hairspray. The UV rays can degrade the compounds, leading to a change in the formula’s consistency and effectiveness.
  • Moisture: Humidity or water exposure can cause the nozzle to clog or introduce bacteria into the product. Once that happens, the quality and safety of the hairspray are compromised.

Signs Your Hairspray Has Gone Bad

Hairspray, for all its holding prowess, is no fountain of youth. Over time, it can lose its touch. But how can you tell? Here are some signs to watch out for:

  1. Change in Hold: If your hairspray isn’t keeping those locks in place like it used to, especially if you’ve been holding onto that can for a while, it’s a hint. You remember those high-and-mighty hairstyles? Nothing ruins them faster than a hairspray that’s lost its grip.
  2. Shift in Scent: We’re not just talking rancid smells. Even a subtle change in its fragrance can be a red flag. The sweet scent you loved? If it’s turning sour or even just faint, it’s telling you something. Fragrance ingredients fading away can hint that the hairspray is losing its essence.
  3. Consistency and Color Changes: You remember the feel of that perfect mist? If it starts dripping, leaking, or feels more like a gel, something’s off. Likewise, any change in its color is a giveaway.
  4. Nozzle Issues: Think of the nozzle as the gateway. If it’s clogged or blocked by residue, especially the hard kind that won’t budge, it’s a sign the hairspray is aging. Remember, these blockages aren’t just annoying; they’re risky. Never, and we mean NEVER, poke around an aerosol can nozzle. The pressure inside can make it a mini bomb. So, if you’re facing nozzle drama, maybe it’s time for a farewell.
  5. Skin Reactions: Pay attention after you spray. Any itchiness, redness, or rash? Could mean your hairspray is throwing a tantrum, or worse, it’s expired.

A pro tip? When in doubt, do the touch test. Spray a bit on your hand, rub it in. Feels gummy or uber-sticky? It’s likely past its prime.

How to Properly Store and Extend the Shelf Life of Hairspray

Every product needs the right environment to flourish, and hairspray is no exception.

Storing Hairspray: Best Practices

  • Cool & Dry: A cool, dry place away from temperature fluctuations is essential. A temperature of roughly 24 Celsius or 75 Fahrenheit is ideal. While a bedroom shelf or bathroom cabinet might seem like good options, ensure that the latter doesn’t become excessively hot or humid.
  • Away from Sunlight: Sunlight is not hairspray’s ally. Avoid locations like window sills that receive direct sunlight.

Tips to Ensure Hairspray Longevity

  • Cap It: When not actively spraying, make sure the cap is securely on. It prevents any external contaminants from getting in.
  • Travel Safely: Planning to travel? A toiletries bag can protect your hairspray from unforeseen mishaps and temperature changes.
  • Mind the Amount: Using an excessive amount of hairspray not only wastes the product but can lead to buildup, making your hair harder to manage and wash.
  • Nozzle Care: Regularly cleaning the nozzle can prevent clogging, ensuring a consistent spray every time. But be cautious; the bacteria from your hands might be harmful if it gets too close to the nozzle.

Can You Use Expired Hair Spray

While using expired hairspray might not lead to dramatic side effects, it’s not without its drawbacks. First and foremost, its primary function – to hold your hairstyle – might be compromised. Over time, the ingredients in the hairspray can degrade, leading to reduced efficacy.

Furthermore, an expired hairspray might not spray as evenly as it should, potentially leaving patches of residue or stickiness on your hair. This uneven distribution can lead to a hairstyle that looks uneven or feels tacky to the touch.

Moreover, the fragrance of the hairspray can change over time. What once smelled pleasant and fresh might now emit a stale or off-putting odor, which isn’t something you’d want lingering in your hair all day.

Lastly, if the nozzle becomes clogged due to prolonged storage, the hairspray can splatter or become difficult to dispense, causing further inconvenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

So, does hairspray expire? Let’s address some common questions related to this topic.

Is it OK to use expired hairspray?

While using expired hairspray won’t typically harm you, its efficacy may be compromised. Expired hairspray might not hold your hairstyle as effectively, could leave residues on the hair, or change in its consistency and fragrance.

In some cases, the ingredients can degrade or separate, resulting in uneven application or undesirable outcomes. If you notice any changes in smell, texture, or performance, it’s best to replace the product.

How do you know when hairspray expires?

Determining the expiration of hairspray can be tricky as many products don’t have a clear expiration date printed on them. However, there are a few signs to look out for:

  • A change in fragrance or the product begins to smell off.
  • A difference in consistency, such as the hairspray becoming too watery or too thick.
  • The hairspray does not hold the hair as effectively as before.
  • Any residue or blockages in the nozzle, indicating product build-up over time.
  • If the product has a Period After Opening (PAO) mark, it can indicate how many months the hairspray will maintain its quality after being opened.

Why does hairspray damage hair?

Hairspray contains alcohol and other chemicals that can dry out the hair and scalp when used excessively or over prolonged periods. The drying effect can lead to hair becoming brittle, prone to breakage, and lacking in natural shine.

Moreover, continuous buildup of hairspray on the scalp can clog hair follicles, potentially leading to hair thinning or loss. Additionally, certain hairsprays might contain chemicals that, while effective for styling, can strip the hair of its natural oils, leading to dryness and damage.

What is the expiry of hair products?

The expiry of hair products varies depending on the type and the ingredients used. Generally:

  • Shampoos and conditioners: 12 to 18 months
  • Hair gels and creams: 3 to 5 years
  • Hair sprays: 1 to 3 years
  • Hair oils: 1 to 2 years

Always check the product label for any specific recommendations from the manufacturer. If the product has a Period After Opening (PAO) symbol, it will tell you how many months the product is expected to last after being opened.


In conclusion, the central question “Does hairspray expire?” has been thoroughly addressed. While hairspray doesn’t spoil in the traditional sense, it certainly has a shelf life that affects its performance.

Ensuring you store it properly and recognize the signs of an aged product will ensure you always get the best results for your hairstyle. Remember, just as with any beauty or cosmetic product, knowledge and mindfulness are key to using them safely and effectively.

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