Does Sunscreen Expire?
Save your skin from a bad burn
Although sunscreen is meant to be used year-round, most people don’t think much about it until they’re ready to trade jackets and long sleeves for T-shirts and bathing suits. But is the half-used or unopened lotion or spray you’ve had hanging around since last September still okay for you to use now? Or does sunscreen expire?
Sunscreen does have a shelf life, but it’s a long one. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates sunscreens, mandates that sunscreens be formulated to stay stable and effective for three years. And they will remain so, even if the container has been opened. “Opening a sunscreen doesn’t cause it to expire any faster. Provided it’s been stored at room temperature, it will maintain its level of protection if it is still in that three-year window,” says Susan Booth, the project leader for sunscreen testing at Consumer Reports. “We have retested sunscreen samples from previous years’ testing after storing them in our lab and found no differences in performance.”
Find the Best Sunscreen for You
Consumer Reports’ sunscreen ratings can help you find a sunscreen that will protect your skin and have the right scent and feel for you. These are some of the top performers from our tests, listed in alphabetical order.
Do sunscreens really protect as much as they claim? On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Sue Booth breaks down what you need to know to keep you safe from the sun’s harmful rays.