3 Ways To Prevent Sunscreen From Spoiling

by Lindsey Rose Black

Ever put on sunscreen properly, reapplied when necessary, and still ended up covered in burns after a day at the beach? According to Vogue sunscreen can go bad and may be to blame for your unexpectedly scorched skin. Fortunately it's easy to spot when a sunscreen will no longer be effective against harmful UV rays, and there are several ways you can ensure it will last as long as possible.

The first indicator a sunscreen will no longer work is on the bottle itself. While there might be some wiggle room on drinking milk past its expiration date, the same isn't true for sunscreen. Dermatologist Elizabeth Quigley highlighted this point in her interview with Vogue and said, "Anything that’s past its expiration date belongs in the trash.” Case closed.

Beyond the expiration date, another way to tell it's time for sunscreen to hit the trash is the product itself. Cosmetic chemist Ni'kita Wilson explained to Vogue, "If you squeeze the bottle and [a runny] liquid comes out first, toss it." Oops. Who else is guilty of just shaking the bottle if their sunscreen is runny and then going about their day?

But don't worry! There are certain steps you can take to make sure your sunscreen lasts as long as possible and will protect you properly.

1. Store In A Dark Place

Similar to your favorite perfume, sunscreen requires special storage to prevent early expiration. If you store your sunscreen next to a window in between uses, it can absorb UV rays and not protect you as well. Inside a cupboard is a great idea.

2. Keep It Cool

You don't have to go so far as putting sunscreen in the fridge, but make sure it's not exposed to extreme high temperatures. If it gets too hot, the heat can cause instability to the formula and make it separate. According to Sun Protection Guide, the sunscreen storage temperature sweet spot is 77 degrees F.

3. Make Sure It's Dry

This means taking it off your bathroom counter, since every gloriously steamy bath or shower you take creates humidity. Similar to heat, the moisture can cause instability to sunscreen and possibly even cause mold. Ew.

And hey, if your sunscreen is well within its expiration date, isn't runny, and you're still getting burned, make sure you are applying sunscreen correctly!

Images: Frédérique Voisin-Demery , jessie essex , Timothy Vogel /Flickr