This Is How To Tell If Your Sun Cream Has Expired

BY Victoria Jowett / Apr 17 2018 / 18:37 PM

Will that bottle of old sunscreen still protect your skin?

This Is How To Tell If Your Sun Cream Has Expired

It's the night before your holiday, you're almost finished packing - and then it hits you. Sun cream. You have a cupboard full of half-used bottles - but how do you know if they've gone 'off'? Dermatologist Dr Mervyn Patterson from Woodford Medical details what you need to know.

Firstly, does sun cream expire?
"Most sunscreens do expire and because of this a lot should come with an expiry date stamped on the box," explains Dr Patterson. "It is very important not to ignore this as the chemicals do degrade and may well lose their protective effect."

If you've thrown away the box - and with it - the expiration date, Dr Patterson says as a rule of thumb, most sun tan lotions will last for "at least a year of use".

How can you tell if it has expired?
The warning signs to look for are smell and texture. If your sun protection has expired the formula will have started to separate. "If it's different in terms of texture or smell from when you first bought it, then things may not be well with the product. In this case, it's best to simply discard."

What happens if you use expired sun cream?
It's possible you will burn - and the expired formula itself could trigger a reaction with your skin. "If a sunscreen product has deteriorated, then in theory there is a risk of chemical alteration of the ingredients." There's a greater likelihood of "contact reactions" with the skin, which means it could be irritating. There will also be a "fall in sun protection".

What causes sun cream to expire?
"If the containers are left in direct sunlight even the most stable of formulations can degrade," says Dr Patterson. "Storage is important. Leaving your sunscreen baking in the sun, whether it's on the beach, or in the back window of your car, may trigger degradation of the formula, and that renders the product useless." The best place to store it? Somewhere shaded, preferably cool and dry. If in doubt, it's safest to dispose of an old bottle and buy a new one so you know that your skin is protected.

From Cosmopolitan UK