Does sunscreen expire? How to recognise if your SPF has gone bad

If you’ve got a collection of sunscreens in your bathroom cabinet left over from last summer and beyond, you may want to think twice before you put any on your skin and head out into the sunshine. Ever asked yourself, does sunscreen expire? Let us tell you that it definitely does. Find out how to tell if your sunscreen needs to be tossed.

does sunscreen expire

In this article

When does sunscreen expire?

If you want to keep your skin healthy and protected you should use an SPF every day. Your sunscreen should contain a minimum of SPF 30 and you should apply it liberally to exposed skin. Plus, your sunscreen should be in date.

For all those who want to know, how long does sunscreen last, or how long can you keep sunscreen? There may still be hope for your bathroom collection yet. In general SPF products should have a shelf life of up to three years, but this is not always the case.

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How long does sunscreen last once opened?

Sunscreen which has been exposed to heat, direct sunlight, bacteria and moisture can degrade faster and provide less protection – or even none at all. This makes the question: when does sunsceen expire once it has been opened, a tricky one to answer because it depends on how the sunscreen has been used.

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Does sunscreen go out of date?

Sunscreen does expire or go out of date. When determining if a sunscreen is still usable, your first point of call should be the expiry date. If you are wondering: where is the expiration date on sunscreen? It is usually stamped on the outside of the container. If the expiry date has passed, you can no longer rely on the product inside to protect your skin from the sun and its halmful UV rays.

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How to tell if sunscreen is expired?

We’ve answered the question: does sunscreen go out of date? Now, we are going to look at how to pick up on the warning signs that tell you, your sunscreen has expired, even if it is still in date. Sunscreen is best stored in a cool, dark and dry spot because heat, sunlight and moisture may cause it to deteriorate faster. When you are out and about, try wrapping your sunscreen in a towel or keeping it in your bag to prevent the sunlight from making the formula inside less effective. When checking the efficacy of your SPF start by looking at how the formula looks, feels and smells, before using it to protect your skin. If the texture has changed, for example become more watery or grainy, the product is discoloured or has a different odor to when you first opened it, the SPF could be off.

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does sunscreen expire

Is it okay to use expired sunscreen?

Still thinking about that collection of old sunscreen stashed away in your bathroom cabinet? Using out-of-date sunscreen is not a good idea. Protecting your skin from the sun not only prevents premature signs of ageing, but also protects against harmful UV damage which can seriously affect your skin. Expired sunscreen cannot be relied upon to provide any of that wonderful protection. If you decide to use expired sunscreen you may well end up with red, sore, sunburned skin because the sun protection factor has reduced. You’ll also have exposed your skin to harmful free radicals which can accelerate skin ageing. All in all, it is best to do yourself a favour and if your sunscreen doesn’t look right, throw it away.

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Does sunscreen expire if not opened?

The short answer is yes, but let us explain why for anyone wondering, can sun cream go out of date if it hasn’t been opened or how long does unopened sunscreen last? Sunscreen deteriorates when exposed to heat, sunlight and moisture. If your bottle has been sitting by the side of the pool, or in your car while you’re at the beach, the formula inside may well be deteriorating even if you haven’t opened it yet. So, that's the answer to: how does sunscreen go off? Now, here's what you can do to help prevent that. To keep your sunscreen effective for as long as possible, store your sunscreen in a cool, dry and dark spot. When stored correctly your sunscreen should remain effective till the expiry date printed on the outside of the container.

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How long can you keep sunscreen?

Any sunscreen that is passed its expiry date or has a different texture, odor or colour to when it was first opened, should be thrown away and replaced. So when deciding whether or not to replace your sunscreen ask yourself these questions. Does it feel weird? Does it smell strange? Does the colour look different? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then toss it and replace it with a fresh SPF. In truth, you shouldn’t worry too much about replacing your sunscreen. Why? Because you should be using so much sunscreen, that you are flying through bottles. As well as applying SPF every day, 365 days a year, we recommend the layered approach to applying SPF. For more tips on sunscreen application, be sure to read our how to use a sunscreen product article.

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If you’re still pondering the question: sun cream, how long does it last? Just remember that it is always a good idea to check how your SPF looks, feels and smells before applying it to your skin. It is also worth noting that if you are using your sunscreen daily and as liberally as you should be, you won’t have any bottles lying around for long.

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