Friday, April 22, 2011

Sunscreen: Toss it out!

Don’t get excited! I’m not saying don’t wear sunscreen. What I am saying is if you’ve been holding on to any particular sunscreen for too long, it’s probably time to throw it away.

The ingredients in sunscreen are, obviously, the most important components of this product. Therefore, you always want to be sure the sun protection ingredients are as fresh as possible. Given time, the potential for your sunscreen going “bad” (losing its potency) is likely.

If you use sunscreen on a daily basis, you won’t have to worry about the SPF going bad; you’ll run out of the product through daily use before it has a chance to lose its efficacy. But if you have a bottle of sunscreen that has been laying around for a few years, I would go ahead and toss it out and opt for a brand new, fresh bottle of sun protection.

For me, I usually throw out any remaining sunscreens I used the year before. This pertains to the large bottle of SPF I use on my body—the one I used in October for the last time, but not since. I don’t use expensive sunscreen on my body anyway (there is so much surface to cover that Banana Boat or Target brand sun products do just fine), so it’s not like I will be incurring a huge expense by replacing the old sunscreen with a new bottle or two. Most sunscreens are tested to be effective for 3 years, but since you want your sun protection products to be fresh, I wouldn’t use anything over 2 years old.

If you have any sunscreens that have been sitting in your car all winter, throw those products out now. Extremes in temperature (especially hot, but cold, too) can render the sunscreen ingredients inert (inactive) and can also mess with the other ingredients and cause any cream, sunscreen or otherwise, to go bad.

Take a Sharpie (waterproof marker) and write the date you opened the new sunscreen so you can tell just how old the bottle is. If you find any dates on your bottles older than 2 years oldget rid of them! You want your sunscreens to be as new and as potent as possible, so ditch the old and get yourself and your family some new products to use this summer.

Enjoy the warmer months that are upon us now, and do wear sunscreen daily. Be sure to slather your entire body in SPF if you are a golfer, hiker, runner, biker, gardener, or are doing anything out in the sun for a prolonged amount of time with little clothing protecting your skin. Also remember to reapply. Putting sunscreen on in the morning isn’t going to give you much protection come lunchtime.

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