Sunscreen is the ultimate getaway insurance, promising a guilt-free, burn-proof romp on the beach or day by the pool. It is key to having some properly protected fun in the sun. But if you get almost to the bottom of your sunscreen at the end of summer and keep it in your beach bag for the next time weather warms up, you’re likely guilty of a serious sunscreen sin. Why? Well, because sunscreen expires! This practice is comparable to eating a snack from last summer.
Here’s the thing: there’s some gray area regarding when to throw sunscreen away, but if expiration has long passed, then it’s your skin that’ll pay the price. To help you figure out when to say sayonara to your most treasured sunscreen bottle, we list how, why, and when sunscreen expires, plus how to extend the life of your favourite formula.
As the warm-weather weekends slowly trickle in, you might dig in your cabinet for last summer’s bottle of sunscreen to slather on any exposed skin. But wait. Does sunscreen expire? You bet it does. Like food, sunscreens can go bad and the ingredients can spoil, leading to a watery consistency. And as the ingredients spoil, the sun protective qualities also become less effective, compromising the integrity of the product and leaving you at risk of some serious sun damage.
According to researchers, generally, sunscreens are designed to remain at their original strength for three years, but that also depends on proper storage. Humidity and heat also accelerate the breakdown of sunscreen, so be sure to keep it at a cooler temperature or room temperature. If your sunscreen is properly stored, you can technically use it from season to season – but regardless it’s better to be safe than sorry. We suggest buying a new bottle of sunscreen every season because you don’t wanna take any risks when it comes to sun and your skin.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But the expiration date is a simple way to check how old your sunscreen is. Sunscreen is an over the counter product and is evaluated for stability, giving it an expiration date. So, most bottles do have a stamp on the box or bottle. If not, or if it has worn off, the three year rule applies. Keep in mind that its three years past production and not necessarily the date of purchase. Also, it important to follow the storage directions, which means your sunscreen formula can go off if it’s not stored in a temp-regulated space.
This is one of the easiest way to check if your sunscreen is past or prime. A watery texture is often the first sign of a sunscreen gone bad.
Your sense of touch, smell, or sight should alert you whether or not its good idea to keep using yor sunscreen. Just keep in mind that what might feel or smell okay yo use to you might not be the same standard an expert would deem safe.
If sunscreen is expired, not only may it not smell or feel the same way, but the integrity of its sun-protecting abilities might be compromised, which is downright dangerous for your skin. As the sunscreen becomes less effective past the expiry date, there’s a significant risk of sunburns, sun damage, brown spots, and risk for skin cancer development. While an expired lotion may not be entirely ineffective, the likelihood is high that if has started to break down, it won’t be providing you the protection you need.
It’s time to snag a new bottle of sunscreen!
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