Recently one of the staff at Skin Check WA was lucky enough to organize a four day weekend. As per usual, they started to organize the things that you should take with you for a few days camped on a river bank. As a regular fighter of skin cancers of all kinds, one of the first things to go in, was the sunscreen. First they checked the glove box and sure enough there was a bottle in there. Then it got interesting when his partner asked if it had a “use by date”?
It was three years out of date.
In the following days this was discussed amongst the staff at Skin Check WA, and the majority had never thought that sunscreen would have a use by date. But hey, why wouldn’t it?
There was further bad news because in amongst the other notes in the fine print on the sunscreen bottle was a little notice about storing the sunscreen below 30 degrees.
Let me repeat that for you… “Store at Below 30 degrees”.
Wow… this is Australia where the temperature in a closed car can and does exceed 30 degrees on a winter’s day and on the Nullarbor the temperature in the cabin of a vehicle can get to 50 degrees with no air conditioning. So Skin Check WA decided to ask a sunscreen manufacturer about this and this is the response that we received:
“During the developmental phase of our sunscreens we only expose the formulations to a maximum temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. The data obtained from such trials is used to predict the maximum shelf life of a product and to determine a recommended maximum storage temperature. We cannot guarantee the stability of a sunscreen exposed to temperatures above the recommended 30 degrees Celsius; prolonged exposure to elevated temperatures may make the components of the formulation separate, which will in turn compromise the efficacy of the product. Exposure to elevated temperatures will also accelerate product ‘ageing’, effectively shortening the shelf life of the product.
In summary, if a sunscreen is stored in a car during the Australian Summer, it will be exposed to above recommended storage temperatures and the stability and efficacy of the product will be negatively affected. If a sunscreen stored in such a manner is used it will most likely not offer the UV protection stated on the pack label, resulting in sunburn and skin damage.”
Which in a nutshell, says do not store your sunscreen in the car… ever.
So, check the use by dates and pack your sunscreen when you need it, so that your use by date… does not get shortened.