Can you still use expired hair spray?

Quick Answer

Generally, it’s not recommended to use expired hairspray. Hairspray has a shelf life of 12-24 months. After this time, the propellants and polymers can start to degrade, making the hairspray less effective. Expired hairspray may not hold your hairstyle as well and can even leave a sticky residue in your hair. However, if used sparingly and your hairstyle doesn’t require a strong hold, you may be able to get away with using older hairspray. Always do a test spray first and don’t use hairspray that is more than 1-2 years past its expiration date.

Does Hairspray Expire?

Yes, hairspray does expire. Most hairsprays have a shelf life of around 12-24 months when stored properly.

Hairspray contains propellants like alcohol and polymers that allow it to spray out evenly and then set into a lightweight film that provides hold. Over time, these components can start to degrade in quality.

The propellants like alcohol can evaporate, making the hairspray drier and less evenly dispersed when you spray it. The polymers can start to break down, making the hairspray less able to effectively coat the hair shaft and provide hold.

So while expired hairspray won’t necessarily go “bad” or make you sick, it will become less effective at doing its job the longer it sits on the shelf past its expiration date.

How Long Does Unopened Hairspray Last?

Unopened, unused hairspray will generally last 12-24 months past the manufacturing date depending on the ingredients.

Here are some general guidelines for unopened hairspray expiration:

– Regular aerosol hairsprays: 12-18 months
– Extra holding hairsprays: 18-24 months
– Salons sprays: 12-18 months
– Mini travel sizes: 12 months

Properly stored in a cool, dry location away from sunlight, unopened hairspray can maintain its quality for up to 2 years.

However, hairspray cans should always be checked for an expiration date stamp to determine when they should be discarded after opening.

Does Hairspray Go Bad?

Hairspray doesn’t necessarily “go bad” in the sense of being unsafe to use after its expiration date. However, expired hairspray will become less and less effective.

Some signs that hairspray has gone bad and is no longer effective:

– Fizzes and spurts irregularly when sprayed
– Clogs the nozzle and doesn’t spray evenly
– Leaves flakes or residue in the hair
– Provides very little hold
– Has an off chemical smell

Hairspray can also start to separate in the can, with the propellant rising to the top. This makes it impossible to properly mix the formula by shaking the can.

If you notice any changes to the performance or appearance of expired hairspray, it’s best to stop using it. While not directly harmful, degraded hairspray won’t style the hair properly.

Can You Use Hairspray After It’s Expired?

You can technically still use hairspray after it has expired, but it likely won’t work as well. Very old hairspray, more than 1-2 years past its expiration, will often have degraded too much to be effective.

However, if recently expired, hairspray may still provide some holding power if used sparingly. The hold likely won’t be as strong though.

Before using expired hairspray, always do a test spray on a small section of hair to check its performance. Make sure it sprays out evenly with no clogging. See how well it holds the hair and if there is any residue left over.

If the expired hairspray seems to work fairly well during testing, you may be able to carefully use it for simple hairstyles that don’t require very strong hold. But performance will continue to decrease the longer the hairspray has been expired.

Does Hairspray Have a Use by Date?

Yes, hairspray has a use by or expiration date indicating when it should be discarded. This date is usually stamped on the bottom of the can.

For unopened hairspray, this use by date is around 12-24 months from the manufacturing date depending on the formula.

Once opened, hairspray’s effectiveness starts to decline more rapidly due to air exposure. So an opened can of hairspray should generally be discarded within 6-9 months of first using it.

Checking the use by date is important before using hairspray, whether the can is unopened or not. Hairspray used past its expiration is less effective and unlikely to adequately hold a hairstyle.

The use by date takes into account the gradual degradation of the propellants and polymers in hairspray over time. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations provides the best results.

How to Tell if Old Hairspray is Still Good?

It can be difficult to determine by sight alone whether an older can of hairspray is still good to use. But here are a few tips:

– Give the can a shake and listen for the ball bearing to rattle around freely inside. If it sounds stuck, the contents may have separated.

– Inspect that the nozzle isn’t clogged or crusty before attempting to spray.

– Do a test spray on a small section of hair. Check that the spray comes out evenly in a fine mist.

– See how well the hairspray holds the test section of hair. Style the hair and allow it to dry completely. Hairspray that still has holding power will keep the section smooth and in place.

– Smell the hairspray. An expired spray may have an off chemical odor.

– Evaluate the hairspray’s consistency. Shake the can again. Good hairspray will quickly incorporate back together. Separated formula won’t mix together as easily.

– Consider when the hairspray was first opened. If over 6 months, it may be past its prime in terms of performance.

If the hairspray passes all these tests with no issues, it should be safe to continue using if it’s not multiple years expired. But watch for decreased hold and re-evaluate regularly.

What Happens if You Use Expired Hairspray?

Using expired hairspray likely won’t cause any serious damage or health issues. However, it probably won’t work very well either.

Here’s what you can expect if using hairspray past its expiration date:

– Reduced holding power – Hairstyles and updos are unlikely to stay put all day.

– Flaking and a tacky/stiff feeling – Outdated polymers leave behind residue.

– Difficulty brushing or restyling – Hair becomes sticky and hard to manage.

– Increased frizz and flyaways – Lack of moisture leaves hair prone to static.

– Poor shine – Dull, dry looking hair without vibrancy.

– Need to reapply frequently – Hairstyle doesn’t hold for long.

While not ideal results, they pose no real danger. The worst that can happen is limp, dull hair that won’t stay styled. As long as the nozzle sprays properly, expired hairspray won’t damage hair with long term use.

How to Revive Thick and Gloppy Hairspray

Over time, hairspray can lose its even consistency and become thick and gloppy due to the propellants evaporating. Here are some tricks to revive thickened hairspray:

– Shake the can vigorously for 2-3 minutes to reincorporate the ingredients. Let it sit for a few hours, then shake again.

– Run the bottom of the can under hot water for 1-2 minutes to warm up the contents and make them flow easier. Shake well.

– Store the can nozzle down for a day which forces the liquid inside to the tip. Improves spray performance.

– Add a few drops of water or rubbing alcohol to thin out the formula. Shake well to mix and test spray.

– Transfer the hairspray to a clean, empty spray bottle if clogged. This allows you to properly mix and use it.

– Try placing a pin or small needle into the nozzle tip to clear any blockages.

– As a last resort, use a fine mesh strainer to filter out any clumps or solids.

These tricks can extend the life of hairspray for a short time. But gloppy hairspray will need to be discarded if it doesn’t spray properly after attempting to revive it.

Does Putting Hairspray in the Fridge Help?

Storing an opened can of hairspray in the refrigerator can help prolong its lifespan for a little while. The cool environment helps slow down the degradation process.

However, it only extends the hairspray’s potency by an extra month or two at most. It does not significantly freeze or stop the ingredients from deteriorating.

Make sure to remove the can from the fridge about 10-15 minutes before use. Cold hairspray applied directly to hair can create moisture and cause frizz as it warms to room temperature.

While refrigeration can slightly delay expiration, it does not prevent hairspray from eventually losing performance. The use by date should still be followed for best results.

Can You Use Hairspray After Opening if Unused?

Hairspray can still be used for a period of time after opening, even if unused, as long as it hasn’t reached the expiration date.

Once exposed to oxygen, the nozzle clogs, ingredients degrade faster, and the hold will start to decline. But unused, opened hairspray lasts longer than hairspray that is actively being used.

Here are some general guidelines for how long different types of opened, unused hairspray will last:

– Regular aerosol hairspray: 9-12 months
– Maximum hold hairspray: 12 months
– Salon brand hairspray: 6-9 months
– Mini travel size: 6-9 months

Make sure to write the date of opening on the can to keep track. Store in a cool, dry place and avoid letting the nozzle come into contact with air.

Shake the can well before each use to maintain even distribution. And watch for changes in performance, like diminished hold, that indicate it should be replaced.

Does Hairspray Work After Being Frozen?

Hairspray that has been previously frozen can still work, but it’s performance may be affected. Freezing temperatures don’t “ruin” hairspray, but can cause changes over time.

Here’s what may happen to frozen hairspray:

– Separation of ingredients – Shaking may not fully mix it back together.

– Clogged nozzle – Ingredients solidify and block the spray aperture.

– Sprays unevenly – Freeze/thaw cycle alters spray pattern.

– Sputters – Propellants condense so they don’t atomize properly.

– Weakened hold – Polymers deteriorate faster from temperature extremes.

– Dries out – Moisture evaporates in the low temps leaving formula thick.

For best results, allow frozen hairspray to fully thaw and come to room temperature before using. Test spray it first and watch for any sputtering or clogs. If needed, transfer to another container if the nozzle no longer works properly.

While freezing doesn’t make hairspray completely ineffective, it can impact the performance. Check for proper spraying action and holding power.

Signs Your Hairspray Has Gone Bad

Watch for these signs that your hairspray has expired and gone bad:

– Doesn’t spray or sprays unevenly
– Nozzle is clogged or crusty
– Fizzes and bubbles when sprayed
– Leaves flakes and residue on hair
– Provides very little to no hold
– Hair feels sticky/crunchy after spraying
– Formula is discolored
– Strange chemical smell
– Separated into liquid and solid

Hairspray that displays any of these characteristics won’t perform well. While using bad hairspray isn’t unsafe, it can leave hair unstyled and crispy.

Once you notice the spray pattern deteriorating or the hold decreasing, it’s time to replace your hairspray for best results. Don’t try to use up hairspray that is more than 12 months old.

How to Properly Dispose of Expired Hairspray

Outdated aerosol hairsprays should be disposed of carefully as they can be flammable and harmful to the environment.

Here are some safe ways to dispose of expired hairspray cans:

– Use up the product if it still sprays decently. This keeps it out of landfills.

– Place empty cans (with nozzle caps on) in household hazardous waste collection bins often available through municipal garbage services.

– Bring cans to hazardous material drop-off days in your community if available.

– Check for hairspray can recycling options in your area. Some metal recycling centers accept aerosol cans.

– Allow remaining product to evaporate fully before putting can in normal trash. Make sure it’s completely empty.

– Never place hairspray cans or other aerosol products in warming recycling bins. The heat can cause explosions.

Discard hairspray in a safe, responsible manner. Don’t throw unfinished cans into standard recycling or trash. Expired hairspray requires special disposal methods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get sick from using expired hairspray?

No, using expired hairspray does not make you sick. The ingredients in hairspray don’t actually go “bad” in a way that breeds harmful bacteria or causes health issues. At worst, degraded hairspray simply won’t work as well to style hair.

What happens if you accidentally spray old hairspray on your hair?

If you accidentally use a can of expired hairspray, don’t panic. Overly old hairspray may leave hair stiff or flaky as the polymers have degraded. But it won’t cause damage. Shampoo a few times to remove any sticky residue. Avoid using heat tools until the hairspray is washed out to prevent drying out the hair further. Let your hair rest, and it should bounce back.

Can expired hairspray damage hair?

No, expired hairspray does not damage hair when used occasionally. The ingredients may cause cosmetic issues like dryness, but they won’t alter the hair structure. However, frequently using very old hairspray that leaves behind buildup can coat the hair shaft and lead to breakage over time.

How do you soften hair after using old hairspray?

If hair feels crunchy and sticky from expired product, try washing with clarifying shampoo. Use a deep conditioner to add moisture back. For quick fixes between washes, mist hair with leave-in conditioner or smoothing serum. Avoid heat styling until hair feels soft again.

Can you fix separated, old hairspray?

It’s tricky to fix hairspray that has separated into liquid and solid. Thorough shaking may temporarily recombine it, but it tends to separate again quickly. You can try straining out solids or transferring to a new container. But fully separated hairspray is past its prime and best discarded.

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