Taking Care of Our Hair By Taking Care of Our Hair ProductsI read an article a few months ago that I thought had some good information in it. I didn't really think it applied to me, so I didn't pay it too much mind. I'm sure we all do this. We think we can beat the odds, so we read the information but don't retain it. Right?! The article was about expiration dates on a number of things, including hair products. It encouraged users to get rid of hair products according to their expiration dates.
What's The Mistake?If you're anything like me, you push limits. I pay good money for hair products and I'm not going to throw out perfectly good products because they've "expired". I get full hair products monthly through curlBOX. I use the products generously but it still takes me forever to get through a bottle! Also, trying new products each month makes finishing old products an even slower process.
The mistake is holding on to products past their expiration dates! If there's an expiration date on the product, it's there for a reason. There are a number of products that don't have expiration dates, but there are a number of products that do.
Why is this important?I NEVER knew products had expiration dates and I never thought to get ride of products after a certain date. The thoughts just never crossed my mind. Before going natural, I knew what products my hair liked and used only those products, so I never kept a them long. Now that I'm trying to find staple products for my natural hair, it takes a little longer to work through products.
Getting rid of products when they expire is important because products don't last forever. There's an expiration date on things for a reason. Two important reasons to get rid of products are:
1) Products can lose effectiveness over time. Active ingredients get dull over time, which is one reason products have expiration dates to start with!
2) Products can be compromised by many things over the lifespan of the product. Two ways this can happen is by getting water into the product if you're using it in the shower or by having products stored in room temperatures that are too hot or cold, etc.
Using products after they expire isn't always dangerous, but you never know what the consequences could be. One horror story from my relaxer days involves using an old relaxer and having all my edges fall out! So, keep that in mind the next time you want to crack open an old bottle of shampoo!!
Learning the hard wayI have two bins full of hair products and I just so happened to go into one of those bins to pull out a product I hadn't used in a while. Thank goodness it's in a clear container, because I noticed something in the product as I picked it up. I found this:
That's right!! There was mold, or what I thought was mold, in my deep conditioner!! Beautiful Textures products were my staple products when I was transitioning. Y'all...I transitioned in 2012!!! Am I saying this conditioner is 3 years old, no but it probably is older than a year...or two (I know, I know)!
How To Avoid This Mistake?Here are a few pointers I'm going to suggest to keep you from finding mold, or anything else, in your hair products!
1. When you buy hair products, write the date you buy it on the product!
Products don't have dates on them like foods do. Although there's no way to know when the product was made and how long it's been sitting on the shelf, using the date you buy it makes determining the expiration date 10 times easier down the line.
Most expiration dates for products can be found on the back of the product towards the bottom (see the picture on the right). This same indicator is used on many of the products I've seen with expiration dates. It has a number beside a M (which means month).
2A. If there is no expiration date:
check the product website. If there's no indication of expiration dates there, most sources say average shelf life for shampoos and conditioners range from a year to three years; depending on whether it's open or unopened. For all other products (moisturizers, gels, oils, etc.), I wouldn't keep them longer than a year and a half.
3. Be careful
Shelf life "can change if the product lacks preservatives, which may be the case for some of your favorite natural hair care products." Black Girl with Long HairAlso, use your senses. If you see something that doesn't look right...or smell something that doesn't seem right...these are signs that the product needs to be trashed!
Moving ForwardI'm not a product junkie!!! I'm not! I get boxes full of products I can't always use when I get them, so it takes a while to work through them, for one. Two, I use different products for different things. I have products I use for my curly hair, products I use for my straight hair, products I use for my protective styles, products I use for the summer, and products I use for the winter! It's easy to end up in this predicament!
Product junkie or not, my advice to you is to keep an eye on the products you use! You want the products you use to be effective AND SAFE! Expiration dates are there for a reason. Be smart and mindful about how long you're keeping products!
Have you ever had products expire on you??