How Long Does Your SPF Last?

I recently cleaned up the bathroom and found some tubes of sunscreen half opened. A little voice in me said these tubes had to be out of date. But my stingy Dutch head couldn’t believe that so I put them back in the closet.

I think (good!) sunscreen is quite expensive. And to throw away opened tubes just hurts my heart. But I still had my doubts. If those creams are no longer effective, then it’s of little use to store them.

So it’s time to find the answer of my burning question: How long does my SPF last???

How long can you keep sunscreen?

Photo: Melpomenem via Getty Images Pro

After you open your sunscreen, you can keep it for 12 months. You can find this on the packaging. Find the opened jar icon and next to it is a number with the letter M (of month).

The tricky part is that you often don’t remember when you first opened your sunscreen. But if you know you used your sunscreen last year, it will definitely still be good this year. The sunscreen still gives you enough protection.

Bought a tube last year and haven’t opened it yet? Then you can still use it this year. In stores, stocks from a year earlier are sometimes sold. You often don’t know this and it can’t be seen from the packaging.

Not sure if your sunscreen can still be used? Do a check. Throw it away if it smells bad, has a weird color or if it doesn’t mix well anymore after shaking. Even if you have stored it well and you burn very quickly after using it, it’s also better to get rid of it.

How long can you keep using sunscreen?

Photo: RyanKing999

I admit that I never use a generous amount of sunscreen. But I actually have to. A tube of sunscreen is intended to be used within 2 years. So don’t use it longer than 2 years.

So if you often have tubes left over from years before or if you don’t spend much time in the sun, it’s better to buy small packages. Okay, good to know.

So lubricate generously. Economical lubrication gives lower protection factor than stated on the packaging.

Use about 7 teaspoons per application:

  • 1 tsp for face and neck
  • 2 tsp for arms and shoulders
  • 2 tsp for chest, belly and back
  • 2 tsp for legs and feets

How do you store your sunscreen?

I often hear that you should keep your sunscreen in the fridge, but you shouldn’t. Sunscreen is best stored at room temperature. Close the packaging and store it in a shady place.

Don’t keep it in the car either. Sunscreen can’t withstand large temperature fluctuations. It can get hot in the car pretty quickly.

And don’t keep it in the bathroom. It’s humid there. That’s not good for your sunscreen.

So at least I now know for sure that my sunscreen isn’t going to last, because I kept it in the bathroom. Time to buy new ones!

Photo by Chan on Unsplash

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