Is your SPF expired? 5 ways to tell (and why you need to get rid of it)
Summer is fast approaching, and while the MCO 3.0 has resigned most of us to the indoors, those of you tasked with supermarket runs or with window-facing at-home office desks still need to stay on top of your SPF application.
That said, we have been at home for a while...
At this point, it's kind of hard to keep track of time in general, let alone the contents of your vanity. So, if you're sceptical about the sunscreens at the bottom of your beauty bag, we're here to help you weed out the more questionable ones.
Ahead, here's how you can tell your sunscreen is expired, and why you definitely should be throwing it away if it is.
Why shouldn't you be using expired sunscreen?
Simply put, the SPF factor is no longer guaranteed past the use-by date. While your bottle of 5-year-old sunscreen (please throw that out, by the way) may read SPF30 on the packaging, you're probably only getting a fraction of that sun protection in reality, despite your efforts.
Further, as with any cosmetics, using an expired product can lead to breakouts. This phenomenon is attributed to the fact that cosmetics double as wonderful breeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria and mould. All in all, it's best not to risk it. So, here's the real question: How do you know when your sunscreen is expired?
Does the expiration date say so?
A pretty good indication of expiration is, well, the expiration date. On your tube (or bottle) of SPF, there will likely be a little jar icon with a number to indicate how long your product is good for past the opening date (you'll see this on most of your cosmetics). In these cases, your best bet is to note down your date of purchase (assuming you'll be using it immediately after). Personally, we prefer to write it down on the bottle itself in order to avoid confusion.
If, however, you can't see an expiration date, fret not—according to dermatologist Dr Aegean Chan, "sunscreens without an expiration date are good for 3 years from the date of manufacture". For this, you'll need to actually find the date of manufacture. It's actually really easy—if you refer to the diagram above, you'll see that there is a code of some sort on the crimp tab at the top of your bottle or tube. From there, just follow where the diagram leads!
Have you noticed any funky smells, textures, or colour changes?
This is a pretty good indicator for any cosmetic product, and it works like a charm for SPFs. Should your sunscreen leave the bottle smelling, looking, or feeling any different from how it did when you bought it, it's time to say goodbye.
If you're not convinced or you can't really tell, try giving the bottle a shake—if it still looks, smells, or feels suspicious after this, it's a toss.
Have you been keeping your sunscreens properly?
Once again, as with any cosmetics, it's important to ensure that the conditions they are kept in are suitable to preserve the lifespan of your products. As a general rule, excessive heat and direct sun exposure are a no-go for cosmetics.
Sunscreens in particular risk degradation with excessive exposure to heat and UV, meaning that—like regular ol' expired sunscreen—the SPF factor goes way, way down. So, if you've left your sunscreen out on the hot sand all day at the beach (if only—#MCO3) or left it in your hot car all year as your SPF contingency plan, you should probably replace it.
How much sunscreen should you be using, anyway?
A bottle of sunscreen shouldn't last you more than a few months if you're using it correctly. We've said this before but we'll say it again: For adequate protection, two to three heaping fingers worth of sunscreen needs to be applied to the face and neck. Further, if you're bald, you should be adding another two fingers' worth to that amount—everyday.
On top of that, you'll also need to reapply your sunscreen every two to four hours, depending on how much sun you're getting.
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