Safe Hair Product UsageI recently wrote about discovering why expiration dates on hair products are so important. So many questions followed that I had to do more research on the subject and follow up with another post. So, what did I find? This post holds all the information I found in one place...just for you!!
Using Expiration DatesHair products don't, won't, and can't last forever! One of the most important things we can do for our hair is to make sure we're using the best products. Expired products are not that! If you remember from the last post, some hair products contain a PAO (period after opening) date. On this picture, the PAO date is "12M". This means you have 12 months after opening the container to use the product.
Sometimes, shelf life is noted by a special (undecipherable) batch code printed on the container. You can look up these codes for major brands at checkcosmetic.net. ~SourceEasy enough, right? Of course it would be easier if all hair products had expiration dates, but they don't. Why is that??
No Expiration DateYou may not find expiration dates on your products because cosmetic products, and their ingredients, don't require FDA approval before going on the market (under the Federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act or FD&C Act). The only kind of monitoring being done by the FDA comes in the form of adverse reports from consumers.
There are many with the opinion that all products going in or on our skin should be monitored and approved, I agree! However, we don't make the rules (per se) so we must educate ourselves the best way we can.
Product Shelf LifeThe amount of time products are considered safe vary across sources. Maximum shelf life for unopened products is about 3 years. Maximum shelf life for opened products is about 1-2 years. The shelf life for natural products is shorter due to the mixture of more natural preservatives and aromas. Also, products with water as the first ingredient have shorter shelf lives after opening because the water fosters bacteria growth! These are all ball park figures, however, on top of these estimates there are other factors to consider.
Many things that can cut down product shelf life include:
- Exposure to elements (air, heat, light)
- Exposure to water/humidity (dilutes products)
- Contact with human skin (causes bacteria growth)
- Break down of fragrances and preservatives
Maximize Shelf LifeProducts are made to be used within a certain period of time but there are a few things you can do to maximize the shelf life of your products:
1. Buy products in spray bottles, pumps, and tubes rather than jars.
- Spray bottles cut down on things like skin contact and water exposure
- Tubes protect from skin contact and can minimize water exposure
- BUT, if you use jars, make sure your hands are clean before dipping them
2. Buy individually sealed or packaged products.
- You use only what you need.
3. Keep products in a cool, dark place.
Even the smallest steps can help extend the shelf life on our favorite products!
Signs of Bad ProductThere are so many different kinds of products with many ways to tell if they've expired. The best advice is use your senses! A few signs to look for when you think a product is bad are:
~ Bad smell
~ Cream products that have curdled & separated
~ Gels that have darkened or turned yellow; also look out for crust around the rim of the container
Remember, you have to take into account the conditions the products might have been subjected to before you bought it, so if things look off...toss!
Why Toss Bad ProductDespite all this information about guesstimated shelf lives and maximizing use, if you open a product and it doesn't look, feel, or smell like it should, throw it out!! Expired products can be an annoyance, but can also cause damage. Expired products may:
A. Lose their ability to work like they should
B. For a number of reasons, cause infections if you have open sores or other skin irritations on your scalp.
Protect yourselfI've gathered this information to show why it's important to be mindful of what we're putting on our scalp and hair! As I mentioned above, the FDA monitors adverse effects of bad products so if you ever have any problems remember these steps:
1) Stop using the product immediately. 2) Call the doctor to find out what you need to do. 3) Report to the FDA by contacting MedWatch (FDA's Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program by a] Phone - 1.800.FDA.1088 b] Online - file a voluntary report c] Contact the Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area. ~ SourceI know we're all out here trying to get long, luxurious hair so we can be great, but everyone with (or without) hair goals should have healthy hair at the top of their list! So, you don't know...unless you know...and know you do! So be safe!
What's some advice you can give others about safely using hair products?