If you're like many of us here at UV Skinz, you probably have a box or bag full of miscellaneous sunscreens somewhere in your house.
If you're really like us, you probably have no idea exactly where most of these sunscreens came from or how long you've had them stored away. You just get them out when the sun is shining and lather them on without much thought, right?
But are these sunscreens still giving you the protection from the sun you need? How long does sunscreen actually last anyway?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all sunscreens have to provide the protection they are rated at for at least three years. This means that you are safe to use any sunscreen that you have purchased within the last three years as long as it has been stored properly and you apply an adequate amount.
Many sunscreens come with expiration dates labeled clearly on them which makes it easy to tell when it is no longer safe to use. But if you can't find an expiration date on your sunscreen, we recommend writing the date you purchased it on the bottle so that you know when three years have passed.
In order to assure your sunscreen stays safe as long as possible, it is important to store it in a cool area out of direct sunlight. If you notice any obvious changes in color or consistency of your sunscreen, no matter how long you've had it, assume it is no longer safe to use and buy a new bottle.
No matter how new your sunscreen is, it won't protect your skin if it is not properly applied. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that most adults use no less than one ounce (a shot glass full) of sunscreen per application. This means that if you have a standard sized, four ounce bottle of sunscreen, you will use around a quarter of it with only one application.
These numbers imply that if you're staying properly protected from the sun and you go outside at least four times every three years, you will use your sunscreen far before it expires. But, if you happen to find an old bottle of sunscreen or are simply unsure whether or not the sunscreen you have is still good to use, it's always best to play it safe and get a new bottle.