Does Hair Toner Expire?

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Whether your goal is to go blonde bombshell or to just remove the unwanted brassy tones from your highlights, you will need a toner. Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, you may not use up the whole bottle of toner. 

That could lead you to question, “Does Hair Toner Expire?” Yes, hair toner expires!

Sometimes, the expiration date is clearly printed on the bottle. But of course, some manufacturers don’t. Additionally, hair toners could expire even before the expiration date, depending on when you’ve opened the bottle and how you’ve stored it. 

In this article, we’ll discuss tell you how long until the hair toner expires, how to tell if it is expired and what could happen if you used an expired product. 


Does Hair Toner Expire? How Long Is Toner Good For?

Overtone Conditioning Toner

Whether it be Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, Reese Witherspoon from Legally Blond, or Marilyn Monroe from, well… from the 1950’s, all of us are inspired by a beautiful blond.

There’s just something about it that leads many of us to change our hair color.

Finding that bottle of toner you didn’t finish years ago could have piqued your interest in going blonde again.

However, you must hold that thought and first determine if you can still use that toner or just throw it away. 

The expiration of No products found. will depend on a variety of factors. The best indicator would be the expiration date that’s (hopefully) printed on the bottle. 

However, not all manufacturers place an expiration date on hair toners because it isn’t required by law. 

Usually, your bottle of hair toner, if unopened will have a shelf life of about 3 years. That means that if it is already beyond that, since production, then it might not work as effectively as it should. 

How Long Does Hair Toner Last After Opening?

For opened hair toners, the exact lifespan may be trickier to determine. Much depends on how it is stored. You can figure toner will last roughly 1-2 years after opening, but again, it depends how and where it’s stored.

How To Tell If Hair Toner Is Expired

If you are contemplating whether to use an opened toner or not, we suggest buying a new one for safety purposes — especially if it has been months since you’ve last used it. 

However, the final decision is still up to you. But before using it make sure to carefully check your hair toner first. 

When trying to figure out whether your hair toner is expired, you should use your senses. 

How Does It Look?

The first is to check how it looks. If it looks way off, or like the chemicals have separated or discolored, dump it.

Some hair toners could appear clearer or of a lighter color than when you first opened them. Due to opening the seal, the process of oxidation can speed up due to air exposure. 

That could make your hair toner develop a darker color. Remember that toners target the opposite color. Some people may still use discolored toner, and it could still function properly, but you may end up getting darker tones than you intend to. 

Due to the oxidation, some of the ingredients might not work as efficiently as before. That means it may not be able to properly cancel out the unwanted tones in your hair. 

With that, you might need to use another toner to achieve the results you want. Some toners  are mixed with developers, which could be damaging to your hair. 

Repeated exposure could damage your hair. So it would be better to just use a new one instead of risking using a toner that might still be good. 


You should also watch out for the change inconsistency. If your toner was smooth and creamy and is now watery or lumpy, then throw it out. 

If the ingredients have already separated, you don’t want to chance it. 

What Does It Smell Like?

The scent may also change, and particularly it could develop a stronger ammonia scent. This will depend on the formulation of the toner you use. 

Although you should check the scent, make sure not to huff the product directly. Just direct some of the air towards your nose. It could already be pretty intense and irritating.

Why Should You Not Use An Expired Toner?

Expired products should not be used for many reasons. The most important reason is for health reasons.

Health Issues

There are different toners in the market and they may have different formulations. Some could use chemicals like ammonia, while others don’t. 

Whether or not they use chemicals, expired products can cause a negative reaction on your body, particularly on your scalp. 

Even if your hair is made of dead cells, you wouldn’t want to further damage them when you use an expired product.

You simply can’t predict how your hair or scalp will react with expired products so it is best not to risk it. 

Color Mishaps

Even if there might not be a negative reaction to the hair or scalp, the expired hair toner may take your hair color in a weird direction, canceling out tones that you didn’t want to be removed.

You’ll have to let it fade, or try to remove the toner you just put in.

Final Thoughts

Hair toners, like other products, will expire. Usually, the sealed ones have a shelf life of about 3 years. For opened ones, figure 1-2 years at most (if stored properly). 

Expired hair toners could change in appearance, consistency, color, and scent. If you are unsure about your toner, just get a new one instead. 

Apart from possibly causing a negative reaction on your scalp, an expired toner may take your hair color in an unwanted direction. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).