Applying sunscreen is a crucial part of the basic skincare routine. It helps prevent skin cancer, slows down ageing, evens complexion and provides overall healthy skin. First, let’s go over some basics of a solid sunscreen routine. Number one: You have to wear it all year-round. Number two: You should apply it everywhere — even your eyelids. Number three: You should wear a high SPF sunscreen for optimal protection. And finally, you should use sunscreen that’s still fresh. Are you in a ‘sunscreen dilemma’? Fret not, here is your ultimate sunscreen guide to help you select the perfect SPF sunscreen.
To understand more about the expiration of sunscreens and the harmful effects of applying expired sunscreen, TC46 connected with Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetic Dermatologist of Fortis, Mumbai. Here she shares 5 ways to tell your sunscreen has expired with tips.
1. Storage tips for sunscreen to prevent it from going bad
Sunscreen can go bad before its expiry date, especially if it is not stored properly. So, here are some tips to properly store your sunscreen:
- Sunscreens should be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight
- Sunscreens shouldn’t be stored in direct sun
- One shouldn’t keep the sunscreens in their cars because the heat in the car can make the sunscreen go bad or break down the molecules of its active ingredients
- If on the beach, one can store the sunscreen wrapped inside a towel to prevent direct sunlight, or one can put it in their cooler (if you are carrying it)
- Keep away from moisture. If the sunscreen gets exposed to moisture (which can happen in humid weather, if someone leaves the bottle open accidentally), the active products lose their efficacy
2. Sunscreen can go bad after shelf life even if one hasn’t opened the bottle
All cosmetic products come with a shelf life, especially chemical sunscreens. The chemicals in them will lose their efficacy after the expiry date, and it won’t give the desired results (here, protection from UVA and UVB rays when exposed to sun) if one uses it post expiry. Also, in the case of physical sunscreens containing Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, the preservatives can also go bad after shelf life even if one hasn’t opened the bottle at all. So, as a general rule with any medicine, one must throw the sunscreen post expiry date.
3. Different types of sunscreens and their expiry
Here are 8 must-know facts about using sunscreen by an expert. The expiration varies in different sunscreens, know more here:
- Chemical sunscreens are more likely to go bad post expiry, going bad means losing efficacy
- Physical sunscreens which are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide provide a physical barrier to the sunrays, hence opting for them is a better idea, especially if one uses sunscreens very sparingly or only during their beach or safari or hilly outings
- Cream-based sunscreens are thicker than gel or spray based sunscreens, hence if one has no option but to use expired sunscreen, then the cream base will at least give physical barrier protection from the sun rays
4. Sunscreen won’t work effectively after expiry
If one applies a sunscreen beyond expiry, the molecules of active ingredients would have broken down and sunscreen won’t work as effectively. So, one should not expect good sun protection and tanning, sunburn can happen. Think you know everything about sunscreens? From SPF to UV rays, here is a quiz that will test your knowledge about the burning facts of sunscreen.
5. 5 signs to tell if your sunscreen has expired
Check for the following signs to know that the sunscreen has expired:
- Consistency: If it has become watery.
- Colour: If the colour is a bit off.
- Fragrance: If the smell is not usual.
- Expiry Date: Some sunscreen brands do not write the expiry date. In those cases, the US- FDA suggests using sunscreen for three years after opening a bottle. Post three years of opening, the sunscreen should be considered expired.
- Effectiveness: If despite applying your sunscreen, you are getting tanned or burned or your skin is getting red or irritated after sun exposure, your sunscreen is not working and is likely expired.
Tip: Is your lipstick expired? See what to do with expired lipstick here.