Does hair gel expire? What happens if I use an expired gel?

lasts 5 years or so

  • Hair gel has an expiration date; it can last 3 to 5 years, depending on the brand.
  • If you use an expired gel, you won’t put your hair at risk, but it can cause a reaction on your scalp.
  • It also won’t do what it’s supposed to do for your style, like keep it in place or give it a wet look.
  • The most important thing to make sure your gel lasts is storing it in the right conditions, which I’ll talk about later on.


There are new hair products on the market every day. Sprays, gels, mousses, and glitter invade store shelves, tempting us to try out what they’re offering.

And sometimes, before we know it, these products pile up in our bathroom cabinets. Products that perhaps we’ll use for some special occasion, or when we want to look good for a night out.


Tell me the truth:

  • Do you have products in your bathroom you only use occasionally?
  • Are you one of those people who buy new products even though you have three more at home just because the packaging looks enticing?


If you answered yes to the above, I have one more question for you:

Do you look at the expiration date for those products you haven’t used for a while?



Before I say anything else, thanks for being honest. Actually, most people don’t look at expiration dates on hair products.

 Of course, it’s different for hair products than for food or medicine – if you consume those things after the expiration date, the consequences can be catastrophic. 

However, for hair products like gels, for example, the outcome isn’t so terrible. But there are still consequences.

Do you want to know what they are?


Then keep reading, because I’ll tell you:

  • How to see if a gel is expired
  • What can happen if you use an expired gel in your hair
  • How to properly maintain your gel


Have you already started to find all the gels that have been sitting for years in your bathroom? Wait a moment, let me first tell you what you need to know.


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How to find out if a gel is expired

how to know if expired

We use hair products such as mousses, gels, and hair spray to define our style and keep our hair in place.

Each of these products has different expiration dates, and as I told you at the beginning, gel can last for about 3 to 5 years.


Stronghold gel lasts the longest, and many of them can last for up to 5 years. No doubt, that’s a long time.

 So before you do anything else with your gel, look at the expiration date. By law, it has to appear on the packaging. In most cases, it will be around the base of the container. 

Now, what should you do if the date has been rubbed off or you can’t read it well enough? How can you tell if the gel is expired?


For this, you have to look at these three things you can see:

  • Consistency
  • Smell
  • Color


Let’s look at these characteristics one by one to help you confirm if your gel has expired or not.


  • Gel should, of course, always be gelatinous. If you put a little on your hand and it stays together without melting or dripping, your gel isn’t expired.

Now, if you notice that the consistency is liquid, it easily melts when you hold it, or it is watery and drips, don’t put it in your hair.

In a few moments, I’ll tell you why.


  • If your gel has a very strong odor, such as that of disinfectant, or if it smells like bleach, don’t use it in your hair, because a gel that’s still good should not have any unpleasant smells.


  • If you chose a colored gel, for example, a blue, yellow, or pink one, you should make sure the color is even throughout. It should all be uniformly the same color.

If the color is all sitting at the bottom of the gel container, you shouldn’t put it in your hair.


 In summary, if you open the gel bottle and it has a bad odor, uneven color, and its consistency isn’t gelatinous, then it’s expired, and you shouldn’t use it. 

It doesn’t matter if you see just one or all three of these problems. With even one, you should toss it.

Have you checked your gel out and concluded that it’s expired?


Throw it away! If you’re still not convinced, keep reading.


What happens if I use an expired gel?

Gels are designed for specific purposes, such as defining curls, creating a wet effect, or simply giving hold to a ponytail.

If you put it in your hair, it won’t damage it. Your hair won’t fall out, and it won’t knot it up.

But it will lose its effect, and it won’t do what you’re wanting it to do in your hair.


 There will be some secondary effects - nothing horrible, but effects nonetheless. When you put expired gel in your hair, your locks can look dull and lackluster. 

It can also leave white residue, as if you had dandruff.

I’m guessing these aren’t the effects you’d want. It won’t give you that wet look, and it definitely won’t hold up your style since it’s too watery and won’t let you shape it.

Also, is your scalp sensitive?


Then be extra careful! An expired gel can cause your scalp to react.

If you feel irritation or a burning sensation, get rid of it immediately, because when gel loses its consistency, the pure chemicals can touch your scalp.

If this happens to you, rinse your hair with plenty of water until these unpleasant sensations go away and immediately throw the gel out. Also, if possible, don’t use any other hair products until the reaction stops.


Besides expiration, two more factors can make gel lose its effectiveness. This is where you live and how you store it.


How to store gel so it doesn’t go bad

Just like all hair care products, gel can’t tolerate high temperatures. If you expose it to heat of over 24 degrees Celsius (about 75 degrees Fahrenheit) or direct sunlight, it will probably lose its properties and become watery.


 That’s why it’s best to always keep it in a cool place out of the sunlight. If you don’t do this, you’re risking accelerating the product’s deterioration. 


It’s ideal to store it in your medicine cabinet away from sunlight. You can also put it somewhere where it’s more accessible, but always keep in mind that the temperature can’t be over 24 degrees Celsius, and it can’t be in the sun.

If you can make these two conditions happen, you’ll keep your gel perfectly until its expiration date and can use it as often as you like.



Gels take a long time to expire, but if you notice that any of the ones you have in your house are expired, it’s better to just throw them away.

And you need to be even more careful if your scalp is sensitive or your skin is prone to reactions.

Your health is first before anything else, am I right?

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