The Best Way to Store Sunscreen

No matter the weather, doctors recommend wearing sunscreen every day to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. However, knowing what types of sunscreen and what level of SPF to use is only half the battle. In addition to wearing it, knowing how to store sunscreen is vital.

Believe it or not, sunscreen can go bad. In fact, many bottles have an expiration date. And this is one expiration date you don’t want to ignore. That said, if not stored properly, sunscreen can go bad long before what the packaging promises.

Sunscreen bottles arranged on a bright yellow background

If not stored properly, sunscreen can go bad. | Melpomenem / iStock / Getty Images Plus

How to tell if sunscreen is still good

The first step in sunscreen application is ensuring the sunscreen still works. In addition to its expiration date, some suggest taking a closer look at the formula. If you squeeze the bottle and you’re met with a runny liquid (or it appears separated), it’s best not to take the risk.

What happens when sunscreen expires

Whether it’s met its expiration date or wasn’t stored properly, old sunscreen can become ineffective and could result in sunburns, no matter how often you reapply.

Bad sunscreen can be a bummer, but there are ways to prolong shelf life — especially if you mind your sunscreen goes bad before the expiration date. Discover the best place to store sunscreen, ahead.

The best place to store sunscreen

Storing sunscreen is just as important — if not, more important than remembering to apply SPF. After all, sunscreen that doesn’t work and not using sunscreen is basically that same thing.

Store sunscreen away from light.

Sunscreen formulas prefer dark places such as a cupboard or in a closet. Storing sunscreen in a dark area can help prevent the bottle and formula from absorbing UV rays and, ultimately, not work as well. According to the FDA, if you are spending a day at the beach or pool — or anywhere in sunlight — you can also keep sunscreen bottles under a towel or in the shade to prevent such exposure.

Keep it cool

You don’t have to store sunscreen in a refrigerator, but you should try for a cool area. According to the Sun Protection Guide, sunscreen formulas don’t like temperatures beyond 77 degrees, as heat can cause formula instability and cause it to separate. Those in high-heat areas might want to reconsider the FDA’s towel trick, as it doesn’t take away from the extreme weather. Instead of wrapping your bottle in a towel, try placing it in a cooler or keeping it at the bottom of your beach bag, as away from the sun and heat as possible.

Avoid humidity

If you store your sunscreen under the bathroom sink, you might want to reconsider. Moisture from steamy showers and baths can also cause the sunscreen to become unstable and could even create a breeding ground for mold (no thanks). To avoid any mishaps, keep your precious skin-protectors in a dry area, away from the threat of moisture, heat, and sunlight.

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