The important symbol you need to look for on your suncream bottle

14 July 2022, 12:35

Expired suncream may not protect you against UV rays
Expired suncream may not protect you against UV rays. Picture: Getty
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

You can avoid sunburn and skin damage by simply checking the expiry date on your suncream bottle.

As many parts of Britain continue to enjoy high temperatures and sunshine, people are being warned to make sure they protect their skin against sun damage.

With temperatures predicted to reach mid 30s over the weekend and next week, it is more important than ever to ensure you are applying suncream before leaving the house.

Suncream protects against sunburn as well as UV rays which can cause skin cancer, but only if the product is still in date.

This brings us to that important little symbol you need to look out for on your suncream bottles which will tell you whether or not you need to throw it out and get some more.

People are being told to check their suncream for an expiry date to avoid skin damage
People are being told to check their suncream for an expiry date to avoid skin damage. Picture: Getty

The symbol is in the shape of an open jar and will have a 'M' next to it with a number, this is the number of months you can continue to use the product from the date it was opened.

For example, 12M would mean it expires 12 months from the day it was opened, while 18M would mean it expires 18 months from the date it was first opened.

Look for the 'open jar' symbol and the number followed by a 'M'
Look for the 'open jar' symbol and the number followed by a 'M'. Picture: Heart

All skincare products have this symbol on them, but suncream is one of the most important to check before use.

This is because after that expiry date the active ingredients will begin to decompose and therefore will not be effective against UV rays.

According to Paula's Choice Skincare there are other ways to tell if your suncream has expired.

They explain: "Once you have checked the expiry date, examine how the formulation looks, feels and smells.

"If the texture has changed (for example: become more watery or grainy), the product is discoloured, or it has a different smell to when you first opened it, the SPF is likely to be ineffective and you should replace it."

They also warn that suncream that has been exposed to heat, direct sunlight, bacteria and moisture can decompose quicker and therefore will offer less protection.

"It’s always best to store sunscreen in a cool, dark and dry place", they suggest: "So when you are out and about, try wrapping it in a towel to stop sunlight from compromising its effectiveness."