Does Developer Go Bad? How to Tell if The Developer is Bad? Methods to Store Developer

Many users are often confused with the state of the developer and its shelf life. Apart from the instructions on how to use a developer with the hair color in your manual, there is other important stuff you need to know. These are related to the storage, usage, and expiry of the developer.

The most common question people ask is whether a developer can go bad. If all these queries are lurking in your mind too, then you have landed the right platform.

Important things to know about hair developer

Here are few things you must know about your hair developer:

  1. Once the developer is opened, you need to use it within six months. One of the best ways is to mention the date on the pack when you open the container so that you can track the six months.
  2. You must always store the developer in a cool place that is away from direct sunlight and moisture.
  3. The expiry of a developer if unopened is usually three years. As long as the developer is not expired, it doesn’t have any risks.
  4. It is strongly recommended that you neither use an expired developer nor use an opened developer that has passed 6 months. This will hamper your hair and lead to breakage.

It is not just with developers, every product has an expiry date. We agree that developer is something that is not used frequently like shampoos and conditioners. Manufacturers may not print the expiry on the developer so it would be wise to mention the expiry date on the developer.

Before you begin to understand if the developer gets bad, let’s quickly check the difference between developer and developer cream.

Developer and developer Cream

Developer cream comes with a mixture of peroxide. Compared to the liquid developer, developer cream is less aggressive on the hair. Regardless of what you use, the shelf life/expiry remains the same.

We shall further see how to guess if your developer has expired and what are the consequences of using the same. In this guide, we shall also explain to you how to store your developer until you make use it next time.

Recommended Hair Developers

Check out below a list of recommended hair developers

How to tell if the developer is bad?

In most developers, you won’t see the expiry date printed on the pack. However, it is because every standard developer has a 3 years expiry period which manufacturers assume you are aware of.

Another reason for the expiry date not mentioned is because you are expected to use it as soon as you open it. In short, a closed developer lasts for three years and an opened developer lasts for six months only.

Method 1:

The easiest way to check if the developer is expired is by smelling it. Bring the pack close to your nose and check if any weird scent or smell comes.

If you feel some sort of smell that feels weird, throw it immediately. It is most likely that your developer has expired.

Do not smell it too close as the chemicals inside may be toxic to health. You may have noticed a strong smell at the time of application due to the chemicals involved.

Method 2:

Another way to check is the smoothness of your liquid developer. If your developer seems more liquid than the last time you used it, your developer may be in a bad condition.

Method 3:

If your liquid developer is showing a yellowish color, there is a possibility that it was exposed to sun or heat. You mustn’t use it.

Method 4:

If your cream developer is sticky to your hands it’s because the developer has expired. Avoid using it and dispose it off immediately.

How long does developer last after mixing?

Once you mix the developer into a prepared mixture, you must use it immediately. The mixture won’t last for long and may stay for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Never use a hair dye, hair dye mixture, hair color, or any color developer for more than an hour. It will only turn your nightmare true.

Does hair developer go bad in heat particularly?

If you consider it scientifically, the chemicals like peroxides or liquid developers do not go bad when exposed to heat.

However, it deteriorates losing water and become more concentrated. Thus, if you don’t get the desired results, what’s the point?  This is why it is recommended not to use the developer when exposed to heat.

What happens if I use bad developer in my hair?

To give you a verdict, you won’t reach your goal of hair color if you use a bad developer. Regardless of whether your goal is to bleach or dye, a bad developer is not good for your hair.

Moreover, expired hair products have higher chances of causing damages to your hair. It is most likely that your hair will become weak and break.

Also, hydrogen peroxide is a strong chemical that already had a strong smell and so using it in expired form may be harmful and hazardous to your hair.

There are several volumes you may choose from in hair developer. These vary from 10,20,30,40 which are most common. Imagine the volume of peroxide in 40 volume is already very high and if you use an expired developer, how much harm it can cause to your hair?

Does developer expire?

Most manufacturing companies will put 3 years as a standard shelf life for the developer. It is before opening the bottle.

Once you open the developer bottle, it will only stay fresh for up to 6 months and you need to use it within 6 months from opening.

Certain other factors also decide if the product will stay intact or leave its effects soon. For instance, you are advised to keep the developer in a cool place and keep it far from sunlight as well as moisture areas.

Using an expired product is not advisable for various reasons. The reason we are sharing it is that developers consist of chemicals that can worsen on expiry.

Expired developers may also result in hair breakage or other infections. The same applies to shampoos, conditioners, hair dyes, and any product that you use.

One of the reasons why developers have longer shelf life is because we don’t use these products pretty frequently as we do for the other products. Some companies may not even print the expiry date on the packaging.

How to know the expiry of the developer?

In most developers, you will not be able to find the expiry of the developer, because it was never printed. It is because you will use it anyway in 3 years.

Developers have longer shelf life compared to other hair products. You must remember that when you open the bottle, you need to use it in 6 months.

Few ways to check if the developer can be used or is useless are as follows:

  1. Take some developer in a container; if it is in a more liquid state than in its usual condition, it means the developer is no longer useful.
  2. If your developer has formed yellowish color, it means it is exposed to heat. You must get rid of it and not use it.
  3. If your developer is creamy than usual and lost its consistency. Avoid using it as it means your developer has expired.
  4. If the developer smells bad or stronger than otherwise, it means it has expired. You must throw it away.
  5. Try experiencing the developer with your hands. If the developer looks greasy and sticks to your hands, it indicates its expiry has crossed.

*Don’t ever make the mistake of smelling the developer to check its condition. The toxic chemicals may be hazardous to health.

What happens if I use an expired developer?

Firstly, there is no point in using an expired product. It is because you won’t get the desired results anyway. We know the developers are used in the process of bleaching or dyeing the hair.

Using expired developers will not only solve the purpose but also damage your hair further making it weak and dry.

In some cases, you may also have infections on the scalp due to strong the odor of the expired developer.

Buying a new developer over an old one is the wisest thing to do. Give priority to your hair than the money you have spent on buying the developer that just expired. Neglecting the hair will anyway make you spend on further treatment.

Different ways of storing the developer

Before we stop, take a look at the ways how you can store the developer and protect it from damages.

  1. Always keep the developer under a temperature between 7 to 20 degrees.
  2. Never place or keep the developer under direct sunlight and protect it from the same.
  3. Keep it in a place where there is a proper flow of air.
  4. Keep it away from humid climate and area.

In simple words, you can store the developer in a place that is neither too hot nor too cold. A perfect place would be a cupboard or open drawer on your shelf.

Popular Hair Developers

Below is the list of popular hair developers for you.


Now that you are aware of the consequences of a bad developer, do not forget to mention the expiry date on the developer bottle. This will save your developer to reuse within at least six months. It is time to check the condition of your developer with the help of the above points.