Does suncream go out of date and how to tell if its expired?


Sun cream stored in cupboards must be checked for an expiry date (Credits: Getty Images/EyeEm)

Every year we get taken by surprise when that first hot day of spring arrives, leaving us scrambling around to find last year’s sun cream for protection – but is it actually safe to use?

It’s not often we think of beauty products, especially sunscreens and SPFs, having expiry dates and we’re all guilty of storing an unfinished bottle of cream for next year ‘just in case’.

With the importance of SPF and protecting our skin from the sun being a top priority, we never stop to consider whether the lotion we’re applying is actually any good for us.

Here we take a look at whether sun cream can go out of date and if so, how can we tell if it’s expired?

Does sun cream expire and go out of date?

Woman applying sun cream by the beach

The longer a sunscreen is open, the less effective it is (Credit: Getty)

Unfortunately for all of you who store sun cream from one year to the next in order to be organised or save money, it does expire.

Experts warn that the longer a bottle of sun cream is open, the less effective it becomes at protecting your skin, making it a bad idea to continue to use once pass the expiry date.

Just like with the majority of cosmetics and beauty items, you’ll find sun creams can have a long shelf life until opened where they then typically last 6-12 months.

How to tell if sun cream has expired?

Your bottle of sun cream will have all the details you need on expiry and use-by dates.

Usually, there will be a date format which is the deadline for when to use the product should it go unopened.

There will also be a little jar symbol with the lid lifting with a number and ‘M’ on it – this refers to the amount of months it will last once opened.

Expiry date: The symbol used to illustrate how long a product can be used once opened (Credits: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If there is an hourglass symbol present, this means the product has 30 months to be used whether it has been opened or not.

Other tell-tale signs your sun cream has gone off include a funny smell and a change in the consistency of the cream.

How you store your sun cream can also have a huge impact on how well it lasts during that time. It’s recommended bottles are kept in a cool, dark place rather then exposed to heat and sunlight.

Basically, the formula breaks down in sun cream left in direct sunlight or high temperatures, leaving you unprotected and making the whole lotion pretty useless.


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