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Sunscreen does it last Forever?

By June 20, 2009 - 8:39pm
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I have an old bottle of sunscreen. Does it lose its potency after a while or does it stay effective forever?

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Expert HERWriter

Hello again!

Great question! I think that's probably something that most of us have wondered about--just how high does that SPF number need to go to protect us? I remember the days when SPFs were like 2, 4 and 6, and now it's all 30 and 50 it seems.

This question rang a bell with me so I went and searched the site and sure enough, it was discussed a couple of weeks ago by a poster and several people who replied. Please check out this link to the question and the replies, many of which contain their own links with more helpful information:


After replying to your question last night I went into my medicine cabinet and found an old bottle with an expiration of 5/08, so it went into the trash. The bottle I'm using is dated into 2010 so it's still good. I got to thinking about how you could remember how old your sunscreen is if the bottle doesn't have the date on it, and I thought that maybe you could write the month and date that you bought it on the bottom with a Sharpie. Then, going by what Alison wrote above you'd know that you could keep it about 3 years after that date.

I hope your weekend has been a good one! Best in health, Michelle

June 21, 2009 - 10:25pm

Thanks, my sunscreen doesn't have and expiration date on it. I will get a new one but is it necessary to get a Sunscreen lotion with an SPF greater then 30?

June 21, 2009 - 9:37pm

According to the Mayo Clinic, "sunscreens are designed to remain stable and at original strength for up to three years."

If your sunscreen does have an expiration date that has expired, do not use it.

If you have sunscreen bottles that you are using from one summer to the next, you are not using enough for aqueduct protection; you can read more about this here. A full ounce (shot glass full) is how much sunscreen should be used at each outing. A sunscreen bottle/tube should only last a few applications, if you are applying it liberally enough. (Dermatologists even say that consumers should worry more about applying enough sunscreen instead of how high the SPF is.)

June 21, 2009 - 6:03am
Expert HERWriter

Hello BSA-Places!

Thank you so much for visiting the website and for posting your question. This is a great question! I went and checked my bottle of sunscreen and on the bottom of the bottle there is an expiration date. So yes, sunscreen does expire and it's important to make sure yours is not past the date.

I remember how a friend of mine once used old sunscreen, thinking it was still good, and she went tubing for the day on the river. It's been probably 12 years now since that day and I can still visualize her bright red skin and how miserable she was.

If your tube or bottle of sunscreen doesn't have a date but just a lot number (a combo of letters and/or numbers), I'd call the company directly, read them the lot number, and they should be able to tell you if it's still good.

I hope this helps! I'm glad to know you are using sunscreen--good for you! Best in health, Michelle

June 20, 2009 - 11:37pm
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