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Does Sunscreen Expire?

Posted on 28 November 2016

Am I putting my health at real risk, or are beauty guidelines excessive?

Did you know, that you are ‘suppose’ to replace your mascara every 2-3 months? I say suppose, because I know that’s what the experts tell us to do, but… I never do that!  And I have never had a bacterial eye infection as a result of using 6-month-old mascara or cold sores from my 12 months old lip gloss (or from anything else from my ‘old’ beauty products).

Am I putting my health at real risk, or are these beauty guidelines excessive? You can decide for yourself, but for me, it seems excessive (and expensive!) to replace, replace, replace.  However, there are a couple of things I do replace:

  • my toothbrush
  • my loofah; and
  • my sunscreen.

… but these aren’t really beauty products, or are they?

Maybe one day I’ll tell you a story about my loofah, but for now, here’s the lowdown on sunscreen.

You should know by now that the one thing you should be doing for your skin is wearing sunscreen, daily. But if your bottle has expired, you might be slathering it on with no actual protection. Because, yes, sunscreen expires.

It's pretty clear that finding a bottle of sunscreen at the back of your grandmother’s medicine cabinet is not a windfall.  Just like you would if you found a jar of Cottee’s chocolate sauce with a best before date of 1986 (true story), throw that sh*t out.  But what about the sunscreen in your medicine cabinet? I bet you can’t remember when you bought it, but surely it couldn’t have been that long ago, right?

Well, one quick way to check whether your sunscreen has expired is to look at the expiry date on the bottle. Sounds simple, but honestly, you may not have noticed it in the past – really, who thinks to check these things?

Expiration dates on sunscreens

Putting an expiration date on sunscreens is not the idea of manufacturers keen to increase sales. Expiration dates are a requirement imposed on manufacturers by governmental departments (in Australia and the US at least) to protect consumers and users of sunscreen. 

If your bottle has expired, don’t stress.  Sunscreen doesn’t suddenly become ineffective the next day. They are typically effective for as long as 3 years from the manufacture date (if they have been stored correctly – and not in the car, beach bag or backyard tin shed!).  My advice, however, is this:

Given sunscreen doesn’t have to be expensive, follow the expiry date on your bottle and when in doubt buy yourself a new bottle.

Now, head outside and enjoy the sunshine safely today!




p.s. up to 90% of the visible signs of ageing, including wrinkles, are caused by sun exposure - so yes, sunscreen should be your must-have beauty product... with waterproof mascara being a close second ;)

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