Does a Hair Developer Expire When Opened & Under Heat? Signs & Disposal

Most hair products including shampoos and conditioners may not have written expiry dates. Moreover, because a developer is used less often and can last much longer, manufacturers don’t see the need to add expiry dates.

Nonetheless, a developer can expire. Not by going bad or stale, but they deteriorate. The hydrogen peroxide present in the developer breaks down to free oxygen and water. The strength/ volume of the developer reduces or concentrates making them unstable for use on your hair.

Let’s dig further into this topic of developers. For more on this, keep reading!

How Long Does a Hair Developer last once it’s Opened?

Once the developer is opened, exposure to the atmosphere has begun and you can only use the remaining product for the next six months. To avoid using it past that, always jot down the day you opened and the expected expiry date to be aware of the state of the developer.

After the bottle is opened, you can’t extend its lifespan after six months. That’s a given. But if unopened, the bottle can last you three years as long as it is kept in ideal storage conditions. These are;

  • Temperatures between seven and 20 degrees
  • No direct sunlight
  • An aerated environment
  • No humid environment

Don’t store the developer in the kitchen or washroom because of humid and heat conditions in both rooms. Inside a closet, cupboard, or drawer would be the best place to store the bottle. Ideally, you can also write the date of purchase so you know when three years are about to lapse.

Does a Developer Go Bad in Heat?

Upon exposure to heat. A developer will decompose and become useless during its time of need.

The composition of a developer is hydrogen peroxide H2O2. Chemically speaking, more oxygen has been introduced to water to form the compound.

When you add the developer to your desired hue, the mixture becomes alkaline, and decomposition starts. When the developer had already been exposed to heat or direct sunlight. It loses its ability to turn the mixture basic.

How can you spot decomposition?

Well, after you open the developer then tightly seal it, the developer should remain intact in the bottle until your next use. But if it has decomposed partly or completely, the bottle will start to swell.

Upon opening the bottle, you will hear a pop or a hissing sound. The oxygen gas will have escaped and the peroxide won’t be at its full strength. 

Clairol Hair developer
Clairol Developer

How Do You Know If a Hair Developer Has Expired?

There are a few signs you can look out for to know if the developer has expired.

  • Shake or simply move the bottle up and down to feel the texture of the liquid inside. If it feels more watery or viscous than creamy, the developer is probably stale and degraded.
  • Check the color of the developer – the mixture often turns yellow to brownish when it has been exposed to heat. This means it’s not in good condition and you shouldn’t use it.
  • Don’t attempt to smell the content of the bottle because the developer can be toxic and could have potential health consequences. However, once you open the bottle, the mixture may smell stronger and more potent than before. This means it has decomposed.
  • Also, check for swelling in the packaging. This is explained in the above section.

What Happens If I Use an Expired Developer?

The basic answer is nothing would happen. The developer has expired and lost its decomposing abilities. This means its value has degraded and can’t help with your coloring or bleaching.

Other than that, if you expose your hair to an expired developer, your hair could get weak, brittle, and damaged. After expiry, you can’t be sure if the mixture in the developer. As we explained above, the mixture in the jar can either reduce or increase in concentration during the process of decomposition.

Therefore, the volume concentration could be too high causing severe damage to your hair. Not to mention a bacterial infection on your scalp, excess itching, and hair loss in the end. One should be very careful about using expired hair products as some mixtures become more harmful than before.

Furthermore, some developers may have a different composition and different volumes with completely different ingredients. This means, your hair may react differently from someone else’s reaction and could be worse is you have sensitive skin

Tahe and Salon Care Developers
Tahe and Salon Care Developers

How to Dispose Of a Hair Developer

Some hair products are flammable, other bleach, others dye. The safest way for you to dispose of a hair developer is by pouring them down the drain of the sink, bathroom, or toilet.

As the main component in a hair developer is hydrogen peroxide, the mixture will eventually turn to water and oxygen which is why disposal isn’t that difficult. The peroxide is environmentally safe and used organic and inorganic chemical agents to make the bleaching agent. Hence just dump it down the drain and flush wash afterward.

For highly concentrated developers such as volume 30 and above, you can first dilute the mixture with some water then drain it.  The peroxide will act quickly to break down enzymes in the sewerage system which can also be beneficial to your piping system.

Other ways to dispose of the developer include;

  • Pouring by the roadside on a sunny day. What happens is the mixture will be exposed to direct sunlight which hastens the process of decomposition. The mixture will turn to water and oxygen whereas oxygen escapes and the water evaporates leaving you with nothing.
  • Pour directly into your sewer. If you’re afraid your pipes may be affected by the mixture and you have a sewage system you can access, just pour the mixture there.
  • You can also approach a professional at your salon and ask them to dispose of the mixture for you.

As you dispose of the mixture, do not pour the mixture on living plants, in your garden, on your lawn or anywhere that may come into contact with a living organism. The mixture can instantly kill the living thing. 

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