WITH summer fast approaching, many of us will be digging out last year’s suncream in a bid to beat the burn as we enjoy the higher temperatures.
But does suntan lotion have a use-by date and does this alter its effectiveness? Here's what we know…
How long does sunscreen last?
Although most of us are guilty of sticking with the half-empty bottle we bought for our last holiday, that may well have expired.
Most brands come with an expiry date but, if it was on an outer box, there’s a good chance you've thrown it out a long time ago.
As a rule of thumb, sunscreens actually last around 12 months.
This means if you’re still ploughing through the bumper bottle you bought a couple of years back, sling it now.
How can you tell if sunscreen is out of date?
If you can’t remember when you bought it, there are a couple of ways to tell – the smell and the look of it.
If the cream pongs or has started to separate, it's time to invest in a new bottle.
"If it's looking different in terms of texture or smell from when you first bought it, then things may not be well with the product. In this case, it's best to simply discard," Dr Mervyn Patterson, from Woodford Medical, told netdoctor.
How to apply sunscreen properly
Cancer Research UK recommends to always use a cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more.
Always make sure you put plenty of cream on and don't skimp on it.
Apply it thickly and evenly.
The amount recommended is around two teaspoonsful of suncream to cover your head, arms and neck.
Reapply the protection regularly throughout the day, even products that are "water resistant" and/or "once a day".
You certainly need to reapply after you have towelled yourself dry after a swim or shower.
Is it safe to use suncream out of date?
The chemicals that protect your skin will start to degrade and that means you could be left with nasty sunburn.
It could also react badly with your skin and cause irritation and itching.
There are things you can do to make sure your cream lasts as long as possible though.
"If sunscreen containers are left in direct sunlight even the most stable of formulations can degrade," Dr Mervyn said.
"Storage is important.
"Leaving your sunscreen baking in the sun, whether it's on the beach, or in the back window of your car, may trigger degradation of the formula, and that renders the product useless."
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