Sunscreen expiration dating
After sunscreens expire, the chemicals begin to degrade and separate, making them less effective.
Eventually, old sunscreens will crystallize and separate, and they may have a foul odor.
We sell a LOT of sunscreen at Pha Mix, including the ever popular line of Anthelios sunscreens.
Because of this we are often asked if it is safe to use expired sunscreen.
Whether you decide to use expired sunscreen depends on your appetite for risk.
If you asked for my advice as a pharmacist, I’d have to tell you to throw it out.
Though you may not notice (or even care), many skin care products, including sunscreens, cleansers, toners, and active topical treatments, come packaged with expiration dates. In North America, there isn’t a legal requirement to include expiration dates on cosmetic products.
However, sunscreens differ slightly in that the Food and Drug Administration considers them to be over the counter drugs (in a topical form).
The sunscreen could very well retain its efficacy for several years more, but there is no way to know that this is the case.
Even if you did, it could already have been older stock on the shelf if you bought it on sale.
If you don't go through sunscreen quickly, start writing the month and year that you bought it on the tube with a permanent marker, or on a piece of tape and attach it to the bottle or tube.
Keep in mind that extreme temperatures can also make sunscreen become less effective, despite its expiration date.
When in doubt, toss the old sunscreen that you have and buy a new one.
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However, in sunscreen products that expire in less than three years, manufacturers are required to print an expiration date on the label.