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Sunscreen expiry: Why last year's bottle may not protect you today

Sunscreen expiry: Why last year's bottle may not protect you today

The arrival of spring is proving to be quite stubborn but we've been teased with some sunshine over the past couple of weeks and that's got everybody clamouring through the bathroom cabinets for last year's sunscreen.

How do we know that?

Because this week alone, several identical questions dropped into our inboxes from customers asking if last year's stuff is still up to the job. And that's why we decided to add this important post to the LifeJournal.

Don't settle for less than 100% effective

We're reasonably self-aware to recognise this blog post might seem self-serving (!!) but before you reach for last year's bottle, there's something you need to know. Your sunscreen from last year may no longer be effective and so, it's time to replace it.

That's right – sunscreen doesn't last forever, and using old or expired sunscreen can actually do more harm than good.

Our mission is to prevent skin damage through better, daily skin protection. For that reason, we'll explain the reasons and leave you to decide if a half-empty bottle of 12-month old sunscreen is worth taking the risk on.

Here's why you should replace your old sunscreen.

Expiry date

One of the most important reasons to replace your old sunscreen is that it has an expiry date. Our sun protection products all have a shelf life of three years from the date we manufacture them. Rest assured, you'll always be buying product from us that's fresh almost all that shelf life available to you.

Once opened, the life of a product is 12 months. After both these dates, the active ingredients start to break down, making the sunscreen less effective. It's these active ingredients and sunscreen filters that do the important job of protecting your skin from damaging UV rays.

If you're not sure when you bought your sunscreen or if it's been sitting at the back of a cabinet for a while, check the expiry date. If it has expired, it's time to toss it and buy a new one.


If your sunscreen doesn't have an expiry date, here are a few signs that it may be time to replace it:

  • The consistency of the sunscreen has changed. If the sunscreen has become clumpy or separated, it may not be effective.
  • The colour or smell of the sunscreen has changed. If the sunscreen has a strange smell or has changed colour, it's time to bin it.
  • You've had the sunscreen for more than a year. Even if the sunscreen doesn't show any visible signs of expiration, it's still a good idea to replace it after a year.

How to store sunscreen that's within its shelf life

Even if your sunscreen hasn't expired, it may still be less effective than it was when you first bought it depending on how you store it.

Exposure to heat and light can cause the active ingredients in sunscreen to break down and lose their effectiveness. They can become 'cooked' basically and that changes the properties or their ability to do the job they're designed for: protecting your skin.

If your sunscreen has been sitting in your car or in direct sunlight for a while, it may not provide the protection you need. It's best to store your sunscreen in a cool, dry place and keep it out of direct sunlight.

Be safe not sorry

Sunscreen is an essential tool for protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun's UV rays.

Using expired sunscreen or sunscreen that has been open for too long can lead to sunburn, premature ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer. By replacing your old sunscreen with a new one, you ensure you're getting the best possible protection for your skin.

And remember, sunscreen isn't the only tool in your arsenal. Wear UPF clothing, like our wide-brimmed hat or long-sleeved tops, and seek shade whenever possible. By taking these steps, you can enjoy the outdoors without putting your skin at risk.

For the sake of a few pounds, don't take the risk on your health by using something that's old or ineffective.

So, go ahead and stock up on sunscreen for the season. It's right around the corner now...