Does Sunscreen Expire?

Just wondering as I excavate this archaic spray bottle from deep underneath my bathroom sink…


As summer inches closer and temperatures climb, you might be inclined to make good use of your quarantined time by sunbathing in your backyard, on your balcony or even on your doorstep, if you absolutely must. It would be wise of you to put on sunscreen first, though, which could mean unearthing the ancient spray bottle you have stashed away deep in your bathroom cabinet. But when you finally get to spritzing your bod, the sunscreen dribbles out as a liquidy mess, leaving you unsure about the near future of your delicate skin and even more unsure about the adequacy of a sunscreen older than your graying dog.

You should be skeptical, because sunscreen can indeed expire. As our very own product guru Kyle Zimmerman explains, all sunscreens in the U.S. have an expiration date — typically between two and three years after they were manufactured — which should be noted somewhere on the packaging.

Using a sunscreen beyond its expiration date is perilous not only because the consistency will be all runny, making it tough to achieve an even application, but also because the ingredients in sunscreen that normally serve to protect your skin will now freaking suck at doing so. As dermatologist Shari Marchbein explained to Allure, “Like food, sunscreen can go bad and the ingredients can spoil, leading to a watery consistency. They also become less effective, which means a significant increase in the potential for sunburns, sun damage, brown spots, and the risk for skin cancer development.” Hopefully, nobody needs to tell you that all of this is bad news.

So, as it turns out, the best use for that archaic sunscreen you just dug out of your bathroom cabinet is having it take up space in the bottom of a trash can. On the plus side, we just released some really cool, super epic, mega impressive sunscreens to help you keep your magnificent skin safe for the rest of time (or at least until the sun eventually explodes, and sunscreen becomes completely useless). And if you need help getting your back before you put that doorstep to good use, hey, you got it, dude.