The People's Perspective on Medicine

Shelf Life Of Sunscreen

Q. I just found some left over sunscreen from last summer. Is it safe to use it again this year?  

A. Check the expiration date on the label. Most sunscreens are good for a couple years even if stored at relatively high temperature, as in a glove compartment or trunk.

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    About the Author
    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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    I also read this ……..
    The expiration date is three years after it’s manufactured, says James Spencer, MD, associate professor of clinical dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. (There should be an expiration date on the package.) But there is no consensus about how long a sunscreen retains its effectiveness after the bottle or tube has been opened. So if you have an open tube left over from last year, pitch it. A new tube of sunscreen will cost you less than $20. Not having to endure skin cancer treatment is, well, priceless.
    Bottom line: To be on the safe side, buy new sunscreen every year.

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