While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulations that require commercial sunscreens to have stable formulations that last for at least three years, it can be tricky to know whether your SPF has reached its end.
Consumers who have purchased FDA-approved sunscreens can expect to find expiration date labels printed right on the product’s packaging.
For lotion tubes and bottles, the manufacturer’s production year and day are typically written in an alphanumeric code that can appear at the top or bottom of the container. The first two numbers represent the year the sunscreen was made while the next three numbers represent the calendar day.
Consumers should take note of how they’re storing their sunscreen and the product’s consistency.
“To keep your sunscreen in good condition, the FDA recommends that sunscreen containers should not be exposed to direct sun,” an FDA spokesperson told Fox News Digital via email.
“Protect the sunscreen by wrapping the containers in towels or keeping them in the shade,” the spokesperson added. “Sunscreen containers can also be kept in coolers while outside in the heat for long periods of time.”
Leaving a sunscreen container in a hot setting can diminish the product’s effectiveness, the FDA and Dr. Anna Guanche told Fox News Digital. (iStock)
Dr. Anna Guanche, founder and director of Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, California, warns that hot indoor settings can impact a sunscreen’s effectiveness.
“There is no expiration difference between the face or body sunscreen. Expired is expired. Although expiration dates are guidelines, it is best not to take a chance of having ineffective sun protection,” Guanche advised.
“Lotions versus spray is the same,” she added. “You want to check the expiration date on the bottle because if it’s expired, it loses its effectiveness of protecting your skin.”
The company had recalled select sunscreens from Neutrogena and Aveeno for potential benzene contamination.
Benzene was reportedly not an ingredient lists in Johnson & Johnson sunscreen products, FOX Business and Reuters reported at the time.