Shelf life of sunscreen and sun milk

Sunscreen and sun milk, how long does it last? Manufacturers of these products claim that a new bottle or tube must be purchased every year. The bottle used would have significantly reduced in factor and therefore offer less protection. Every year many bottles of this expensive product are sold. But do you have to buy a new sunscreen every year?

Sunscreen or sun milk

The difference between a sunscreen and a sun milk mainly lies in the spreadability. A cream is thicker than a milk. It does not make much difference for protection: every product has a certain factor. The factor determines the degree of protection. The higher the factor, the better. A high factor prevents sunburn but also does not allow radiation to pass through. The skin does not tan. A lower factor provides less good protection but does provide tanned skin. Children should never tan in the sun. Tanned skin caused by the sun means damaged skin. Children should use at least factor 30, but preferably factor 50. People with fair skin, red hair and freckles also prefer to use a high factor.

How often should you buy a new sunscreen?

Manufacturers of these products are clear: a new product must be purchased every year. Some magazines also include this advice in their magazines. We have adopted this statement and know no better than to buy a new sunscreen every year and throw away the old one. It is claimed that every year the factor halves. A factor of 50 is therefore only a factor of 25 the following year.

Shelf life

Every cosmetic product has an expiration date. On the back of the bottle there is a jar with a number: the number of months the product can be kept after opening. This is often 6, 12 or 24 months. When these months have expired, the product can sometimes still be used, sometimes not. Some ingredients disintegrate after these months, causing the product to become watery or lumpy. The effect may also deteriorate after these months.
We know that the factor also decreases with sunscreens. This makes the product much less protective after a year. However, in practice this is not too bad: a factor of 50 is still a factor of 45 to 47 the following year, if stored properly. The factor has deteriorated slightly, but still offers sufficient protection. It is more important to look at the number of months of shelf life after opening. If it says 24 months, it can also be used for 24 months. This also applies to sunscreen. If it says 12 months, the cream can still be used the following year, but it will no longer provide sufficient protection. In addition, the product can often feel dirty and smell bad. The preservatives in it can attract bacteria. The manufacturer guarantees a minimum shelf life as indicated on the back of the bottle.

Why does the manufacturer claim otherwise?

A manufacturer is a for-profit company. Everything revolves around the highest possible turnover. If they manage to convince the people to buy a new product every year (preferably their own brand), they will make a profit. That makes sense! These claims were soon adopted by magazines. But experts know better: it is not necessary to buy something new every year. Moreover, we throw away a huge amount of sunscreen alone. A shame! If you really don’t trust it and still want to buy a new sunscreen every year, it is better to keep your old bottle. It can serve as a spare bottle, for school or used for the dog or horse. These also sometimes need to be rubbed, white animals in particular burn quickly.

Storing sunscreen

On hot summer days we take sunscreen with us everywhere: the beach, the swimming pool, on a walk, on holiday, on a bike ride, on a playground, etc. That’s a good thing, because you can’t apply it often enough. Most bottles are exposed to a large amount of sunlight. Do not. Preferably store the bottle in a cool bag or rolled up in a towel, out of the sun and in the shade. Heat is disastrous for your cream or milk and for any other cosmetic product. This can cause the ingredients to fall apart. In addition, the protection factor may deteriorate more significantly. It is also best not to freeze your sunscreen. These products are not resistant to this.

More expensive is better?

An expensive sunscreen often has a well-known brand. The consumer pays for this brand and the appearance of the bottle. This does not mean that the expensive brand is also better and offers more protection. According to the consumer association, a cheap sunscreen is just as good as an expensive one. It turns out that many sunscreens even have a higher factor than actually stated on the packaging. More protection for just as much money.

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  • The dangers of the sun
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