Does Sunscreen Expire? How to Know When It’s Time to Replace It

Now that the sun’s come out, it’s time to start applying sunscreen religiously. But can you use the sunscreen you bought last year? Does sunscreen expire? Yes—there is an expiration date and there are ways to tell when the SPF is off.

You should be wearing sunscreen year-round and applying it to every part of your body. Sunscreen with higher SPFs will give you better protection. Your sunscreen should have an expiration date written on the label and once it’s reached that date, the ingredients spoil and become less effective putting you at risk for sunburn, sun damage, sun spots, and skin cancer.

Expired sunscreen won’t protect your skin and the changes in the formula over time make it ineffective and can cause problems for your skin. By handling the sunscreen container with a dirty hand and opening and closing the container, you’re exposing it to bacteria.

In general, most sunscreens last three years but check the expiration date on the container. Other factors like where you store your sunscreen and if it’s stored in the heat, will cause it to expire more quickly. If it’s been exposed to heat, replace it every couple of months. When you’re unsure if the sunscreen is still good, check for changes in its smell and texture.

We suggest replacing your sunscreen every year and if you apply sunscreen as recommend, a bottle shouldn’t last that long. You should be reapplying every two hours and using an ounce for your face and body. Most sunscreens are four ounces so you should go through the bottle quickly if you’re applying as recommended.