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So you’ve got a last-minute beach trip, and you’re in a pinch for sunscreen. As you're digging through your old beach bag, you find a tube from two summers ago. You might be wondering, ‘does sunscreen go bad?’ Should you toss it or keep it? Keep reading as we answer some of your questions. 

Does sunscreen expire? 

The TLDR version is: yes, sunscreen absolutely expires, and this goes for both mineral or chemical sunscreen. Just like any other skin care product, sunscreen contains ingredients that degrade over time, making it inefficient in providing sun protection. Additionally, external factors such as exposure to heat and sun may also cause the sunscreen to go bad sooner. 

FDA guidelines require that all sunscreen products have an expiration date indicated, unless it’s proven to remain stable for at least three years via stability testing. That means, it’s safe to assume a sunscreen expires after three years of purchase. Be sure to check before generously slathering that SPF on your skin. 

Can you use expired sunscreen?

Like we said, old sunscreen probably won’t give you the same level of protection as when it was manufactured — regardless if it’s SPF 10 or SPF 100 (which doesn’t exist, btw). Using old sunscreen could give you a false sense of security. Don’t forget that unprotected sun exposure opens you up to several health risks – including premature aging, skin cancer, sunburn, and more. 

Moreover, expired anything can become a petri dish for microorganisms, bacteria, mold, and more. That’s a recipe for irritation and breakouts right there, especially if you have sensitive skin. Better safe than sorry!

How do you know if sunscreen has expired?

Aside from checking the date on the packaging, there are other ways to tell if SPF is expired, such as:

  • Color – Most sunscreen should be white (unless it’s tinted). Expired sunscreen may be yellow-ish and different from when you first bought it.
  • Texture – Mineral SPF tends to separate or get grainy or chunky over time. Meanwhile, chemical sunscreen also changes in consistency and can get more watery than usual. 
  • Smell – Notice something funky or out of the ordinary? Toss it. 

Making the most of your sunscreen

Out of all the skincare products, sunscreen is the easiest to use up. After all, it’s meant to be a daily sunscreen, no matter the season. There’s no reason to let it go to waste! Here are a few things to keep in mind to maximize your SPF: 

Store sunscreen at room temperature

As we’ve mentioned, exposure to heat can cause sunscreen to expire faster. When you’re at the beach or anytime you’re in the sun, keep sunscreen in the shade or in your bag once you’re done using it. When at home, don’t leave it by your window or some shelf in the garage where it can get hot and humid. 

Use sunscreen religiously

Sunscreen is the one product you should never, ever skimp on. Unfortunately, studies reveal that most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount. If your sunscreen tube has been lying around for three years, you’re probably part of the statistics. 

Remember that the average adult needs 1 once (AKA 1 shot glass) of sunscreen to cover their whole body, and a nickel-sized dollop for your face. Don’t forget other commonly forgotten areas, like the tops of your feet, ears, neck, and hands. These aren’t exempt from sun damage and skin cancer! Do this at least 15-30 minutes before heading outside. 

Reapply, reapply, reapply

You should also be reapplying every two hours or immediately after sweating, swimming, or toweling. It doesn’t matter if you’re by the pool, on a hike, or doing a grocery run — SPF will eventually break down and stop working throughout the day. 

At Everyday Humans, we’ve got you covered. Our range of lightweight, fast-absorbing everyday sunscreen makes application super easy and fuss-free. Whether you’re looking for a dewy, hydrating face guardian like Resting Beach Face SPF 30 Sunscreen Serum, or a hardworking body moisturizer with SPF like Oh My Bod! SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion, there’s a formulation that’s perfect for you. No need to worry about sunscreen gathering dust on your vanity — this is sunscreen you’ll actually want to wear. 

Shop SPF essentials now on

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