How can you tell if sun cream has expired, does it work after it has gone off and how long does sunscreen last? | The Sun

DURING the hot weather, you may be tempted to dig out that bottle of sunscreen you bought months ago and hope for the best.

But does suncream have a use-by date, and if so, does it affect how well it works? Here's all you need to know.

How long does suncream last?

Planning on going travelling lathered in a suncream you bought for your last holiday?

Beware, it may well have expired.

Expiry date numbers normally refer to when the product can be used till if it remains sealed, so it may well have gone off before you think.

Bottles may have a PAO symbol – which resembles an open jar with a lid – with a number followed by "M" indicating how many months it can be used once opened.

An hourglass symbol on the bottle means you have 30 months to use it, irrespective of whether it's been opened.

But though most suncreams will come with an expiry date, if it was on an outer box, it may well have been thrown away.

This means if you’re still ploughing through the bumper bottle you bought a couple of years back, you should sling it now and get a fresh one.

How to tell if suncream is out of date

If you can’t remember when you bought it, there are a couple of ways to tell – the smell and the look of it.

If the cream pongs or has started to separate, it's time to invest in a new bottle.

Cancer Research UK recommends to always use a cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more.

Always make sure you put plenty of cream on and don't skimp on it, applying it thickly and evenly.

The recommended amount is around two teaspoonfuls of suncream to cover your head, arms and neck.

Reapply it regularly throughout the day, even products that are "water resistant" and/or "once a day".

You'll definitely need to reapply after you towelling yourself dry or taking a swim or shower.

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Is it safe to use suncream when it is out of date?

You should always try and use a fresh bottle as the effectiveness of the cream will decline over time.

The chemicals that protect your skin will start to degrade and that means you could be left with a nasty sunburn.

It could also react badly with your skin and cause irritation and itching.

There are things you can do to make sure your cream lasts as long as possible though.

Ensure that bottle isn't left in direct sunlight during your beach holiday, and if it has been, buy yourself a new one.

Keep your bottle in a cool, dark place, this will help it retain it's effectiveness.

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