BEAUTY & STYLE

When Does Sunscreen Expire? – Best Face Sunscreens for Your Skin

Follow these four tips before you try to use last year’s stash.

By
Gina Way

Jeffrey Westbrook/ Studio D.

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Found last year’s sunscreens while weeding through your products? How to tell the still-good from the bad.

1. Check The Expiration Date

In general, sunscreens start to lose their efficacy after three years, even if the package has never been opened. That’s why many have an expiration date, usually stamped on the bottom of the container or on the box. (Don’t see one? Next time, use a marker to write the date you bought it.) “Most formulas have preservatives, so they’ll probably still work after that date, but they may not be as potent,” says dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD. When in doubt, toss it out — especially if you’re fair-skinned.

2. Beware of Open Containers

If you used an SPF once last summer and it hasn’t expired, it’s safe to use. But consider where it’s been. Was it left in a hot trunk for months? If so, dump it: Heat can degrade ingredients. Same is true “if the color is yellowish or the consistency is watery or clumpy — it won’t work as effectively,” says derm Joshua Zeichner, MD.

3. Get Organized

Store bottles in a cool, dark spot (skip the bathroom — temperature fluctuations from hot showers aren’t ideal). “I put mine in a zip-top bag and keep that inside my beach tote in a closet,” says Dr. Marmur.

4. Use it!

“If you buy an SPF at the start of summer — and you apply the right amount — it should be gone before Labor Day,” says Dr. Zeichner. He recommends an ounce (or shot glass) of lotion for your full body and four back-and-forth passes for lip balms and sticks. For sprays, apply until skin glistens. As for your face, “you should be wearing a moisturizer with SPF all year, even on cloudy days. At that rate, you’ll go through a container every month or so,” says Dr. Marmur. Your goal this season: no leftovers.

Find Your Dream Face ‘Screen

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For Every Day

When Does Sunscreen Expire? - Best Face Sunscreens for Your Skin

OLAY Complete All Day Moisturizer with SPF 15, $11, drugstores

Courtesy Olay

“If you’re just commuting to the office, an SPF 15 works fine,” says Ellen Marmur, MD. This one’s lightweight enough to wear under makeup.

For Preventing Damage

When Does Sunscreen Expire? - Best Face Sunscreens for Your Skin

OLAY Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream with SPF 30, $26, drugstores

Courtesy Olay

“Sunscreen is the number one antiager for Millennials because it protects against wrinkles and pigmentation,” says Dr. Marmur. This one is especially powerful: Peptides thwart fine lines, while vitamin B3speeds up cell turnover.

For Outdoor Action

When Does Sunscreen Expire? - Best Face Sunscreens for Your Skin

OLAY Complete All Day Moisturizer with SPF 30 for Sensitive Skin, $11, drugstores

Courtesy Olay

“Use a broad-spectrum SPF 30 on beach days or every day, especially if you have fair skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD. This formula has skin-calming aloe for sensitive skin.

This article was originally published as “Spring-Clean Your SPF Stash” in the April 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan. Click here to subscribe to the digital edition.

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