Does hair toner expire? Yes, after three to four years

woman doubts about her uneven colored hair

  • Hair toner expires after three to four years as long as it remains unopened. This date is printed on the bottle or box.
  • Once opened, the toner has a shelf life of one to two years as long as it’s stored in a dry place and away from heat and light.
  • Therefore, if the toner is expired or not stored correctly, it won’t work on your hair.
  • Also, if the stored toner is lumpy, foaming, or a different color or the smell irritates your eyes or nostrils, you should discard it. That toner is most likely expired, and, if you apply it, you’ll damage your hair.


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Now you know.

  Toner has an expiration date like any beauty product.  

Most beauty products are made with ingredients that degrade.

Therefore, after a certain time, they lose their properties. This happens with both hair dye and toner, which is a type of permanent dye.


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Even natural products have an expiration date.

For example, a few months ago, I participated in a natural cosmetics workshop and we prepared a lip balm with almond oil and beeswax.

The trainer highlighted some information. “Although it’s a natural cosmetic, you must print the expiration date and keep it in a cool, dark place. Natural ingredients maintain their properties for a year.”

expiration date of a product through a magnifying glass

Hair toners, specifically, contain chemicals, such as ammonia. So,   if the chemical degrades, the toner will lose its properties and could damage your hair severely.  

So, here’s how to tell if your stored toner is outdated.


How to tell if your toner is out of date

hand holds toner box with expiration date on it

As you know, we’re all different regarding our culture, education, place of birth, and even zodiac signs.

In my case, being a Virgo, I am excessively neat and careful with details. Therefore, I write down and record everything. I even write down the doctor’s advice on my medications.


So,   if you have a toner stored in a dry place away from sunlight and high temperatures, but you have no idea how long it’s been there,   THROW IT AWAY.


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It’s not worth risking your hair to a chemical process just to avoid getting a new toner.

Remember that the toner contains ammonia and is applied with a developer.
  If the ammonia in the toner is degraded because the toner is expired,   you’ll ruin your hair because it’ll dry out. Is it worth it just to save a few bucks?

Is it worth the risk?


Of course, it’s not!

Now, let’s say you have some doubts. It seems to you that it’s been a very short time since you saved the toner. However, the date is blurry and you can’t see it clearly.

How can you tell if that toner is out of date?

woman covers her nose because of irritating smell

  • Place the toner in a plastic container and look at it.
  •   If it’s liquid, lumpy, or foamy,   discard it.
  •   If it’s too dark or its color is completely different from the expected one,   discard it.
  •   If you smell a strong chemical smell that irritates your eyes or nose,   discard it.


Otherwise, if you use it, you’ll be gambling with the health of your scalp and hair. That’s what I’ll talk about next.


What could happen if you use an expired toner?

woman tries to detangle hair damaged by expired toner

If you apply an expired toner to your hair, I advise you to start praying. Maybe the heavens will have mercy on you.

In the best-case scenario, chances are your hair won’t change color and it will feel drier after rinsing out the toner.

However, things can become part of a horror movie scene under the worst-case scenario.

Yes, start thinking about scalp irritation and injury, extreme changes in your hair color, and hair dryness and breakage.


Why? After the expiration date, the degradation becomes increasingly toxic. You could even burn the hair follicles and cause hair loss.



Toner has an expiration date of three to four years. For example, the Wella toner. Once opened, you should store it away from humidity, heat, and sunlight. In this case, its properties will remain intact for one to two years.

However, if you have a toner in storage but can’t see the expiration date, throw it away. It’s not worth saving a few dollars in exchange of your hair’s health.

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