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Does Sunscreen Expire?

by kelly / August, 1 2018 01:30

Picture of sunscreen squeezed out into the shape of a sun on a wood deck with seashellsImage © Marco Verch

Yes, sunscreen can expire. Sometimes the date is obvious and sometimes not so much. How do you tell? Read on and now might be a good time to check your cabinet.

How to Find the Expiration Date

Finding the expiration date on your bottle of sunscreen might not be the easiest. There’s no standard place where every sunscreen brand must put the expiration date, especially since sunscreens come in all shape and size bottles.

Here are some general places to look:

  • on the back
  • on the bottom
  • embossed on the top
  • embossed on the crimp of a tube

But some sunscreens don’t have expirations listed at all.

I know a little confusing –here’s why…

Expiration Dates Are Required – Sort Of…

Sunscreens and all SPF products (even makeup with SPF) are considered over the counter drugs (toothpaste is as well!) and are regulated by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA requires all sunscreens: “to have an expiration date unless stability testing conducted by the manufacturer has shown that the product will remain stable for at least three years.”

So what does that mean? Well it means that if you don’t see an expiration date on a sunscreen or SPF product – it “should be considered expired three years after purchase” according to the FDA. Of course that’s assuming that the sunscreen brand went through the proper testing to validate a three-year expiration Laughing.

No Expiration Date and Can’t Remember When You Bought It?

What do you do about that bottle of sunblock that has no expiration date and you don’t remember when you purchased it? Unfortunately sunscreen can go bad so the safest thing to do is probably to recycle that bottle and get a new one. On the new bottle maybe write the date of purchase so you know going forward.

Block Island Organics Sunscreen Expiration Dates

Fortunately at Block Island Organics – we print our expiration dates on our sunscreen products. It is printed on the back of our bottles, under the drug facts panel in bold black letters.

A Quick Roundup

So you see, it’s not too difficult. The TLDR is:

  • All sunscreens have an expiration date
  • The expiration date is usually 2 or 3 years out
  • If it’s less than 3 years it will be printed or embossed on the outermost packaging (in case it comes in a box)
  • If it’s 3 years it might not be printed. So if you see a bottle or outer packaging that has no date, it has a 3 year shelf life.

Suncare Smarts

There you have it. Sunblock labels can be hard to figure out – that’s why we have you covered. With our help it’s not too hard. For more, check out our Suncare Smarts series to become a sunscreen expert.

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