Sunscreen should always be replaced after it expires, yet what if expired sunscreen is the just sun defense you have?(Image credit: Shutterstock)
You"ve just declared a spot on the beach; the sunlight is climbing overhead, and also you"re looking forward to a relaxing job of sea and also sun.

You are watching: How long is sunscreen good for after the expiration date

And speaking of sun — friend mustn"t forget to use a generosity layer of security sunblock. But when you reach for your tube of sunscreen, you notification that it"s lengthy past the stamped expiration date.

Should you use it anyway? <5 things You Didn"t Know about Sunscreens>

Sunscreens typically administer protection with active ingredients the absorb or reflect ultraviolet (UV) radiation, such together zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and so-called "broad spectrum" assets block the end two species of potentially damaging UV radiation — UVA and UVB rays, the Melanoma Research foundation reported.

Most sunscreens will certainly remain efficient up to three years ~ the container is opened up — unless the brand"s expiration day says otherwise, follow to the mei Clinic. However, storage in hot places or exposure to moisture can malfunction a sunscreen"s components and also reduce its effectiveness even prior to it"s "officially" expired, Dr. Lauren Ploch, a dermatologist, told Live scientific research in an email.

"Any ingredient in a personal care product — even inactive ones, choose emulsifiers and also preservatives — have the right to degrade over time," Ploch explained. "This destruction is often sped up by suboptimal storage conditions, so storing sunscreen in a hot car may make it ineffective even before its expiration date."

Expired sunscreen may be less reliable at prevent UV rays, increasing the likelihood of sunburn and also an raised risk ofskin cancer. But heavy creams, which typically provide better coverage and also sun security than gelatin or sprays, can still provide a shield between skin and sun, also if the sunblock is expired, Ploch said.

"Expired sunscreen may be much better than no sunscreen, particularly if the active ingredient is a physics sunblock prefer zinc oxide or titanium dioxide," she said.

However, sunscreens have the right to differ commonly in their composition of active ingredients and also inactive ingredients, and also the storage history of individual containers the sunblock have the right to vary also more. Therefore, it"s difficult to to speak for sure how effective an expired pipe of sunscreen could be, and users would be far safer seek an unexpired alternative if one is available, she said.

"I recommend borrowing sunscreen native someone rather on the beach or going come a adjacent store come buy something. Even small convenience stores and also gas stations stock sunscreens now," Ploch said.

If you"re caught without any sunscreen whatsoever, cloth can carry out some protection from the sun, particularly if the cloth is especially woven or cure to screen out ultraviolet rays, Ploch said Live Science. In clothing, a UPF (ultraviolet defense factor) rating describes how effectively apparel will protect you, lot as SPF (sun protection factor) numbers stand for the effectiveness of sunscreen.

But even UPF-treated cloth doesn"t administer 100 percent protection, "so it"s vital to stay both sunscreen and sun-protective clothing," Ploch said.

Original article on Live Science.

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Mindy Weisberger is a Live Science senior writer covering a general beat that includes climate change, paleontology, weird animal behavior, and space. Mindy stop an M.F.A. In movie from Columbia University; before Live science she produced, wrote and also directed media for the American Museum of Natural background in brand-new York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and also evolution show up in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such together the CINE gold Eagle and also the Communicator compensation of Excellence. Her writing has additionally appeared in clinical American, The Washington Post and How It works Magazine.