With holidays back on the agenda, it’s time to stock up on your SPF and check if any sunscreen bottles in your cupboards still offer the protection you need. Here’s how to tell if your SPF has expired.
What happens if you use expired sunscreen?
Sadly, nothing lasts forever and even your favourite SPF has an expiration date. When past its best, the potency can be affected. So, slathering on an out-of-date sunscreen can make you more susceptible to sunburn, skin damage and exposed to free radicals. These affects can cause premature signs of ageing, including wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, as free radicals are responsible for the skin’s collagen to breakdown more rapidly.
How can you tell if it has expired?
There comes a time when you can’t remember when you initially opened or last used your sunscreen, and there’s no expiration date on the bottle. In this event, the sunscreens look, feel and smell can indicate if it is still fit for purpose. If the texture has become more watery or grainy, the product has changed in colour or smell can all be tell tale signs of spoiled sunscreen.
How long does sunscreen last?
You should always check the label of your SPF product for specific information about how to store it correctly and any expiration dates. When stored in the right way, most SPF products are designed to last for three years. However, heat, direct sunlight and where you store the sunscreen when you are back from holiday can all impact its shelf life.
As time passes, the breakdown in preservatives can not only affect the level of SPF protection your sunscreen offers but also allow bacteria to grow inside the bottle from repeated handling with dirty hands.