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How to Tell if your Sun Cream has Gone Bad

How to Tell if your Sun Cream has Gone Bad

Living in good old Blighty means the weather can be unpredictable. One day we’re sheltering from the wind and rain, the next we’re basking in the blazing sunshine and lighting up our BBQ’s!  Yet, these sunny days are still few and far between which means we’re usually unprepared, often frantically rummaging through the bathroom cabinet trying to find last year’s supply of sun cream. But, should you really be using that old sun protection and how can you tell if it’s expired?  Here’s everything you need to know.

First up, check the expiration date

Most sunscreens come with an expiration date stamped on the bottle or on the box it came in. This is because the chemicals in sunscreens do degrade over time meaning the lotion loses its SPF protection, so it’s important not to carry on using the product past the expiry date. As a general rule of thumb, try not to use sun cream for more than a year after purchase.

Test the smell and texture

If you’ve thrown out the box and can’t find an expiry date, then there are a few things to look out for to tell if your sun cream has gone bad. When sun tan lotion starts to expire, the formula will separate, often causing it to have a thin, watery texture when used.  It may also cause the lotion to have an unpleasant smell. If in doubt, if it feels and smells different from when you first used the product, then it’s best to throw it out and replace with a fresh one.

What if you use it by accident?

If your sun cream has expired then it will have lost its SPF protection properties, meaning that you’ll likely burn if you continue to use it. Ouch!  There’s also the possibility that an out-of-date product may cause skin irritation due to a chemical alteration of the ingredients—so it’s best to avoid using it at all costs.

What is the best way to store it?

Keeping it in direct sunlight will force the sunscreen to absorb UV rays between uses, weakening its power to protect your skin. Exposure to heat can also compromise the stability of the formula causing it to separate, so try not to leave it in your car during the summer months. Always store your sunscreen in a cool, dark and dry place whenever possible to stop it from deteriorating.

Remember, you should be aiming to wear sunscreen every day, as it’s possible to burn even when it’s cloudy. Always check the recommended dosage on the outer packaging; if you’re applying the correct amount, your sun cream shouldn’t last long enough for it to deteriorate.  However, if you’re ever in doubt and you can’t find the expiration date, it’s best to chuck it out and get a fresh bottle.

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