Mold In Hair Products: How to Prevent It!

If there is mold in your hair product, then you need to worry. It is usually a sign that the product is spoilt and you need to replace it.

Why does the mold develop in the first place? If you have a water-based hair product, the shelf life is usually 12-months.

When a product is older than a year, it would become rancid, and the first sign is when tiny, green particles develop around the tip/lip of the product.

According to EPA, mold often thrives anywhere there is moisture and oxygen. So, if you store your product in an area with high humidity, it can promote fungal growth, which will lead to mold.

When you start seeing mold in your hair product, it’s best not to use the product. Just discard it!

You can salvage it using some of the methods we described below, but the safest thing to do is to get a replacement.

Aside from the fact that it may cause harm to your hair, it’s generally considered unhealthy to continue using such products.

When you see mold in your hair product, you can be sure it’ll be accompanied by some nasty smell as well. That’s a good time to throw it in the bin.

What to Do With a Product With Mold in it?

When you see mold in your product, the best thing is to discard it.

However, if the product is too valuable or only a tiny portion has the mold, you can scrap it off and use it, if the other part is still good.

You want to try and ascertain how if the product has actually expired so you can determine how long you can still use it.

When Hair Care Products Go Bad

Hair care products are either water-based or oil-based.

For example, some conditioners/shampoos are oil-based while others are water-based. Each has its advantages and your choice depends on what your needs are.

Typically, water-based products will go bad faster, usually a year. Oil-based hair products, on the other hand, can last as much as a lifetime.

If you want an indefinite shelf life, you may decide to stick with oil-based products. Just that it may not always be possible since your favorite products may not come as oil-based.

In general, all you need is good maintenance culture and you’ll use any hair product for a long time.

Some people have reported getting 15 months and even 2 years out of their products before mold develops.

Why Do Hair Products Develop Mold?

Or more specifically, why do they go bad?

If you’re used to natural hair products, you may have noticed that they go rancid after a time, whether you notice it or not.

There are a lot of factors that can affect the shelf life of a product.

For example, storing it in a place where moisture and oxygen are present may trigger the growth of mold. On the other hand, storing in a refrigerator can extend the shelf life of the product.

As a rule of thumb, any natural product will have a shelf life of the ingredient with the least shelf life.

What I mean by that is that ingredients in hair products have a different shelf life. Some are short while others are longer.

Once the ingredients with a shorter lifespan go bad, then the product itself is technically going bad. This scenario changes when preservatives are added.

Then the product will only last as long as the preservative, which is mostly a year after you open it. Once air gets into a hair product, the shelf life starts diminishing.

Note: Just because a product’s expiry date is 1 year doesn’t mean it’ll last up to a year, and vice versa.

Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Water-Based Products?

Yes. You can add to the shelf life.

And the best way to do that is to store them in the refrigerator or freeze them in small batches.

This is for the products you don’t regularly use. If that’s too much hassle, then you want to make sure the product is not directly exposed to water/moisture.

Mold needs water to grow and when that is present in a hair product, mold can grow in as little as 3 days, if the product has no preservatives.

You can also get the product into a container and sterilize it. Then boil for 5 minutes, allow to cool, and seal it off tightly.

Another safe method is to use broad-spectrum preservatives like Germaben II.

What you are essentially blocking moisture from getting into the water and not accelerating the rancidity of oil in the product.

If it is a DIY hair product, it can get rancid fast, especially if it contains common oils like argan oil, coconut oil, castor oil, or lavender oil. Most of these oils have a shelf life of 1 to 2 years.

How to Prevent Products from Developing Mold

The most important thing is to know how long you can use a hair product before buying. This will help you to know how long you can use it.

The other thing is to ensure you store the product properly.

There are some products that are meant to be used in the bathroom and others that you need to keep away from the bathroom.

Your shampoo and conditioner will probably do well in your bathroom. However, other products you may need to store in a cool, dry place.

Your makeup stand or beauty wardrobe are good places to store them.

Finally, don’t store water-based hair products in the bathroom. Moisture from your sink or shower may dampen it and promote the growth of mold.

Instead, store them in a dry drawer.

Also, make sure the lid is tight before storage. However, if you have cabinets in your bathroom or exhaust fan, you can store them in the cabinet, provided ventilation is good.

Also important, don’t buy more than you need. It’s in our nature to want to splurge especially when there is a sale going on.

If you’re not sure you’re going to be using the product regularly, it’s better to postpone the purchase.

Or if you will only use it sparingly, then there is no need to open it. If it’s not a product that won’t get spoilt due to nonuse, then you have no problem.

Finally, it’s your choice to make. This is only our opinion and you’re free to buy anytime you like.


Hair products that develop mold are usually because of their ingredients. If there are preservatives in it, then shelf life can be quite a while, usually a year.

Hopefully, you would have used a large part of the product before this occurs. If not, you can use the above tips/techniques to salvage it and use it even further.

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