Does Leave-In Conditioner Expire?

Did you just find several-year-old leave-in conditioner in your hair stash? You're right to wonder whether it could be expired. In this article, we’ll fill you in on whether leave-in conditioner expires. We’ll cover how long these products usually last, what happens if you use old leave-in conditioner, and more. Let's get right into it!

Leave-in Conditioner Does Expire

Just like all the rest of your hair care products, leave-in conditioner does indeed expire. Before the bottle is opened, you can expect the product to last anywhere from 2 to 3 years. Opened products don't last anywhere near that long - 12 to 18 months on average.

To find out how long your leave-in conditioner lasts, look at the packaging. More often than not, you'll see something like 12M, 18M, or 24M. This denotes how many months the product will be usable.

If there's no expiry date on your leave-in conditioner, it's good practice to toss it after 12 months just to be safe.

Signs that Your Leave-In Conditioner May Be Bad

Most of the time, you can go by the expiration date on the packaging to determine whether the product is bad. But there are times when the leave-in will go bad before that date, whether it be due to improper handling, a problem with the manufacturing process, storage issues, or something else entirely. So, it's wise to learn the signs of product spoilage to know when to toss it. Here are a few of them:

  • It doesn't look or feel the way it usually does.

  • It's giving off a funky smell.

  • It is thinner than usual or has clumps.

  • Its expiration date has come and gone.

  • It doesn't affect your hair the way it used to.

What Does Expired Leave-in Conditioner Do to the Hair?

If you're wondering what's so bad about an expired leave-in, this section is for you. Some of us have used expired leave-ins with no detectable issues. Your expired leave-in conditioner could work perfectly fine and give you no problems.

But on the other hand, there are several negatives you could experience if you decide to add an expired leave-in conditioner to your regimen, but here are a couple of the main ones: 

  • Underwhelming results. The potency of some ingredients fades over time. So, if you use a leave-in after its expiration date, you may find that it doesn't give your hair the shine, softness, or manageability it promises.

  • Scalp issues. Expired leave-in conditioner can harbor bacteria and fungi that could do a number on your scalp. Some of the main symptoms you could experience are scalp redness, dryness, and a persistent itch. And in the worst cases, you could develop hair loss.

Because of the above risks, it’s generally not a good idea to use expired leave-in conditioner. Chances are you’ll be better off throwing it away.

So, there you have it - leave-in conditioners do expire. And when they do, it's best to avoid using them. We hope you found the information in this article useful, and we wish you the best with your hair!




Author: Andrea Reyes

Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.

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