Does Sunscreen Expire?

Sunscreen is meant to be used year-round, but if you only reach for it during the warmer months you’re not alone. Is it safe to use your sunscreen from last summer this summer?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates sunscreens, mandates that sunscreens be formulated to stay stable and effective for three years. And they’ll remain so, even if the container has been opened. Some sunscreens have an expiration date on the container, which makes it easy to determine the product’s “freshness,” but disclosing an expiration date is not is not required by the FDA.

Regardless of a sunscreen’s expiration date or purchase date, it should be tossed if it’s “spoiled”—if the product is watery, has changed color, or has a funny smell it’s time to throw it away.