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By Kiehl’s Education Team

Yes, sunscreen does expire. Learn more about how long sunscreen lasts and important SPF-related advice
on how to keep your skin protected all year round.

Model photo applying sunblock to their face alongside a texture sample of Kiehl’s sunblock

Sunscreen does, in fact, expire, and it’s important to check the expiration date of your chosen formula to make sure your skin stays protected during the summer and beyond. Although it might be common to rediscover a bottle of sunscreen from last summer and feel inclined to use it, sunscreen can (and does) degrade, which can make it less efficacious over time.   

Since body sunscreens are often used during the hotter summer months and when we’re more likely to be spending more time in the sun, that can mean that sunscreen is often exposed to environmental elements and disruptions that can affect the efficacy of the SPF protection. For example, a sunscreen might be SPF 50 at the time of purchase, but due to natural degradation and exposure to the sun and other elements, it can become SPF 30.  

Using any product that has expired is ill-advised because it may not do its job correctly, and because sun protection is such a critical benefit of sunscreen, it’s especially important to keep your sunscreen as up to date as possible.  

Kiehl’s Tips: To help make sure your SPF stays fresh, avoid leaving your sunscreen in your car or in direct sunlight, which can help slow down the natural degradation process. Additionally, we recommend replacing your body sunscreen every season and throwing it away at the end of the season. For facial sunscreens, we recommend using within the expiration date and keeping it out of your bathroom, where humidity from the shower or bath can degrade the sunscreen and change the formulation as well. As a general rule of thumb, you should regularly check the formulation of your sunscreen to see if you notice any changes in color, smell, or if the formula begins to separate.  


Open container of Kiehl’s Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+

Sunscreen Expiration Timeline

Sunscreens are considered a non-prescription drug and are regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. As part of this regulation, the FDA requires that all sunscreens last for at least three years without losing their potency. Some, but not all, sunscreens have an expiration date printed on their bottles. This makes it easy to know when it is time to toss an old formula. For SPF products that do not have a date printed, it’s important to keep track of when they were first purchased. 

When it is time to replace your sunscreen, we recommend trying our Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+. The lightweight formula protects skin against not only UVA and UVB rays, but from pollution and external aggressors as well. It also absorbs quickly and has a matte finish. 

Smiling model with a septum piercing and a hand on their face

SPF Expiration Tips

Keep in mind, expiration dates do not only apply to sunscreens but also to any formulas with SPF, including moisturizers, lotions, and facial creams. To restock your moisturizer with SPF, pick up our Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30. It offers broad-spectrum protection while also providing skin with up to 24-hour hydration. If you have anti-aging concerns, try our Super Multi-Corrective Cream SPF 30, which protects skin with broad-spectrum SPF 30 UV protection while also visibly lifting and smoothing the skin.  

Your lips also need sun protection — we recommend our Butterstick Lip Treatment, SPF 30, which protects against UVA and UVB rays, smoothes, and hydrates lips. 

Kiehl's Tip: Skincare formulas, like moisturizers with SPF, typically feature a small symbol on the back or bottom of the container that indicates their shelf-life. Look out for a jar icon with a number and the letter “M” inside. This tells you how many months you should keep the product. 

What Happens If You Use Expired Sunscreen?

Worries about being wasteful or getting the most out of a formula may make you hesitate to throw out expired products. But it is true that you should not use expired formulas, especially sunscreen. With a skincare product that is so essential, it's better to err on the side of caution and make sure your sunscreen is as up to date and sun protective as possible.  

Once the expiration date has passed, there is no assurance that the formula is still safe and effective at protecting your skin. If you use expired sunscreen, your skin can be inadequately protected from the sun, and your risk for sunburn, sun-damaged skin (including premature wrinkles), and even skin cancer can increase. It’s also possible that you may experience potential reactions due to the formula separating or degrading over time. 

How Can You Tell If Sunscreen Has Expired?

The best way to tell if sunscreen has expired is to check the expiration date or, as we mentioned, think back to when the formula was first purchased. It’s also recommended to pay attention to changes in how the formula looks, feels, and smells. If you notice changes in the consistency of the formula, if the formula has separated, or even if the label has worn off of the bottle, it may be best to discard that formula and use a new one. Any change to your sunscreen can be an indication that the formula has expired or degraded, and that can leave your skin more vulnerable to harmful sun damage.  

Can You Prevent Sunscreen from Expiring?

All sunscreens will expire eventually, but there are steps you can take to help maximize the shelf life of the formula and make them last as long as they are supposed to. Every bottle of sunscreen should include a note or warning that the formula should be kept away from excessive heat or direct sunlight, as sun exposure can impact the formula. When bringing sunscreen outdoors, keep the formula in the shade or wrapped in a towel. For long beach days or extended time periods under the sun, you can also store sunscreen in a cooler.

How Long Does Sunscreen Last?

If you’re using your sunscreen daily, you should change and update it frequently to ensure that it is as efficacious as possible at protecting your skin. For body sunscreens or formulas used more for the beach or outdoors, you should renew them every season. If you use sunscreen regularly (as you should), it’s unlikely that a bottle of SPF will last for that long due to its regular application. For each application, most people need about one ounce for their face and body. To help you visualize, that is enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass. 


Bottle of Kiehl’s Better UV Serum

Better Screen™ UV Serum

For all skin types, including oily and acne-prone, our lightweight sunscreen serum with Collagen Peptide is specifically formulated to protect against sun damage and help visibly correct early signs of aging. Powered with advanced UV filters to help shield against UVA and UVB, and Collagen Peptide to help correct visible signs of UV damage, our formula works to boost skin radiance and visibly improve skin tone and texture, while blending seamlessly across multiple skin tones. 

Bottle of Kiehl’s Super Fluid Daily UV Lotion

Super Fluid Daily UV Lotion

For a daily sunscreen in a lightweight lotion, reach for our tried-and-true Super Fluid formula. It helps defend against UV rays and pollution and even helps protect skin against early signs of aging caused by the sun. Non-comedogenic, this formula is infused with Vitamin E and Baicalin and leaves skin with a matte finish. 

Open jar of Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream SPF 30

Super Multi-Corrective Cream SPF 30

If you’re looking for SPF protection coupled with a multi-targeted anti-aging moisturizer, we recommend our Super Multi-Corrective Cream SPF 30, which helps lift, firm, smooth, re-texturize and moisturize to help keep skin soft, supple and healthy-looking.  

Bottle of Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30

Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30

Our Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 is an effective facial moisturizer with SPF 30 broad-spectrum protection that moisturizes skin and absorbs easily to help protect skin from sun damage which can cause early signs of aging. 


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