Tools and Resources
Does sunscreen expire?
Is sunscreen from last year still good? When does sunscreen expire?
Sunscreens are designed to remain at original strength for up to three years. This means that you can use leftover sunscreen from one year to the next.
Some sunscreens include an expiration date a date indicating when they're no longer effective. Discard sunscreen that is past its expiration date. If you buy sunscreen that doesn't have an expiration date, write the date of purchase on the bottle. Also, discard sunscreen that is more than 3 years old, has been exposed to high temperatures or has obvious changes in color or consistency.
Keep in mind, however, that if you use sunscreen generously and frequently, a bottle of sunscreen shouldn't last from one year to the next. Generally, a liberal application is 1 ounce (30 milliliters) the amount in a shot glass to cover all exposed parts of the body. If you have a 4-ounce (118-milliliter) bottle, you'll use about one-fourth of it during one application.
To maximize protection, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Apply sunscreen generously 20 to 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply about every two hours or more often if you're swimming or sweating. Be sure to rub the sunscreen in well.
© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for
Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A
single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial
personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com,"
"EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo
Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education
Legal restrictions and
MayoClinic.com/Mayo Clinic Health Information. Use thereof