It's that time of year again: the sun’s rays are getting stronger, and the weather calls for ample time outdoors. As you prepare for your next beach trip, you open the medicine cabinet and reach for your trusted bottle of sunscreen. You're just about to slather it on when something stops you. The date on the bottom of the bottle alerts you that the product expired last year. Should you go ahead and apply your expired sunscreen? Or is it better to swap it out for a brand-new bottle?
Before you make a decision, we've compiled some basic guidelines on using mineral sunscreen or zinc oxide sunscreen safely and effectively. Keep these tips in mind the next time you find an old bottle in the medicine cabinet.
Does Sunscreen Expire?
Some people mistakenly believe that, unlike food, sunscreen never really expires. However, this is a dangerous misconception. Sunscreen has a shelf life that must be honored to ensure optimal sun protection. Since every product is different, the Food and Drug Administration requires sunscreens to undergo stability testing to find out how long a sunscreen’s active ingredients are at their best. Most sunscreens maintain efficacy for two to three years after the manufacturing date. Sunscreen that has passed its expiration date no longer remains at its original quality.
To ensure that your water resistant sunscreen lasts for as long as possible, be sure to store it properly. Avoid placing the product in an area that receives a lot of direct sunlight, heat, or significant temperature fluctuations between hot and cold. In general, it's recommended to keep your sunscreen in a cool, dark place to preserve its quality.
Can You Use Expired Sunscreen?
You now know that mineral sunscreen expires, but you might still be wondering if it's safe to apply SPF that has already passed its prime. Unfortunately, it's never a good idea to use expired sunscreen. The biggest risk of holding on to that old bottle of zinc oxide sunscreen is reduced SPF. As time goes by, the UV-blocking power of your sunscreen gradually begins to decline, putting you at a higher risk of sun damage. Sunscreen can also separate over time since it is made with ingredients such as oils and water that naturally want to layer. While this can be fixed with a good shake of the bottle, expired sunscreen can be difficult to mix and isn’t guaranteed to have the same proportions as when it was within its expiration date.
It's also worth noting that this change starts to take place as soon as your sunscreen reaches its expiration date. It can be tempting to keep using your trusted bottle of SPF only a few weeks after it expires, but you won't be providing your skin with the vital protection it needs.
Replenish Your Mineral Sunscreen Supply With Blue Lizard
Once it's time to part ways with your old mineral sunscreen, you need a reliable alternative to help protect your skin from UV rays. Blue Lizard offers a wide selection of eco-friendly, water resistant sunscreens when you're ready to try something new. Whether you're looking for a kids sunscreen or a face sunscreen for sensitive skin, you can find a product that's tailored to your specific needs. Not only are our mineral-based sunscreens better for your health, but our We Love the Reef sunscreens are also designed to help protect the environment we live in. Check them out here.