Yes, sunscreen expires after three years, so know when you purchased it

If the sunscreen has no printed expiration date, it is good for three years after the purchase date (even if opened).

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It's the first week of June, and Mother Nature is forcefully letting us know summer is here early...and here to stay.

As you whip out the flip flops and tanks, don't forget to dress your skin for the weather, too.


WFMY News 2 director Lorie Aiken recently went on a beach trip and packed her sunscreen. Something about it caught her attention and prompted a request to VERIFY. She asked, "Does sunscreen expire? If it does, is it still safe to use once it has expired? My sunscreen...expired, it says, in 2019. Could you VERIFY if, or not, sunscreen is safe to use after the expiration date?"


It is true -- sunscreen expires on the printed expiration date or three years after the purchase date. Since Lorie's sunscreen has a printed expiration date of 2019, she should throw it away.



The FDA, Consumer Reports and the Mayo Clinic all agree the answer is -- yes. Sunscreen expires, but the shelf life is generous.

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The FDA requires all sunscreens to have an expiration date, unless manufacturer testing shows the product is safe and fully-effective for three years. 

Consumer Reports testing showed sunscreen, stored mostly at room temperature, is effective in this three-year window, even if it has been opened. But, if you try to use it after the three-year mark, it might have weakened effectiveness.

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And, consider this tip for the future -- if you buy a sunscreen without an expiration date, use a permanent marker to write the purchase date. 

But, regardless of dates, if your sunscreen ever changes color or consistency, air on the side of caution and toss it.

RELATED: VERIFY: Lavender is an effective, natural mosquito repellent

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit a selfie video of the question (and include any supplementary links, pictures or screen shots):

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