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When sunscreen SPF expires

What to expect when sunscreen SPF expires. How to tell when sunscreen is expired.

All sunscreens have an expiration date

The FDA requires that all sunscreens have an expiration date, like nonprescription drugs, unless the product was proven to be stable for at least three years. That means, a sunscreen product that does not have an expiration date should be considered expired three years after purchase.

How do I know when my sunscreen /SPF expires?

You can usually find the expiration date of your sunscreen on the crimped part of a tube or stamped on the bottom of a bottle.

when sunscreen SPF expires

What happens if you’re using expired sunscreen?

Using expired SPF can lead to decreased protection and increased risks of UV damage, including possible skin cancer. Unprotected UV exposure to the sun or indoor tanning devices is a known risk factor for the
development of skin cancer. Studies have shown that UV radiation from both the sun and tanning devices can cause
oncogenic mutations in skin cells.

When used correctly, sunscreen products may help prevent some skin cancers, including melanoma. Broad-spectrum sunscreen products that filter both UVB radiation and UVA radiation and that have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 are recommended.

The damaging effects of UV radiation include photoaging and photocarcinogenesis. Photoaging, a term used for the characteristic changes to skin induced by chronic UVA and UVB exposure, can manifest as dark age spots, sagging and wrinkling, while photocarcinogenesis is due to the damage of cells and DNA.

Photocarcinogenesis represents the sum of a complex of simultaneous and sequential biochemical events that ultimately lead to the occurrence of skin cancer. These events, initiated by UV radiation of appropriate wavelength, include the formation of DNA compromising photo products. Many chemicals that are not carcinogenic can be photocarcinogenic when combined with exposure to light, especially UV.

Steps you can take to prevent early expiration of your sunscreen /SPF.

According to Mayo Clinic,

  1. Avoid exposing the container to excessive heat or direct sun
  2. Place sunscreen containers in the shade or wrap them in a towel
  3. Discard sunscreen that has any obvious changes in color or consistency

“Mineral sunscreens are typically more photo stable” Megha Trivedi, assistant professor of dermatology at RUSH Medical College.

EMPHASIS MINE -If it smells off, don’t use either. You want to store sunscreen in a cool, dark place, and that helps it to become a bit more stable, lasting a little bit longer,

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and in contrast to many other cancers, its numbers are on the rise. Although skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, it is among the most preventable cancers. 

bareminerals makes one of my favorite tinted facial sunscreens.

Sources: The American Academy of Dermatology, cancer.gov, Science Direct

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