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How Do You Know if Your Sunscreen is Bad?

We’re coming up on summer in Chicago and that means great outdoor joggling.  But it also means you’re going to get sunburned if you don’t take precautions like using sunscreen.  Runners need it more than most because we are outside longer, we sweat it off, and we have more exposed skin.

If you’re like me, you have half used tubes of sunscreen all over the place.  You’ll have no idea how old they are or whether they are still good.  If it is only a year old, it probably is.  In fact, most sunscreens last 3-5 years.  The folks over at U.S. Pharmacist published the secret code to popular sunscreens so you can tell how old your product is.  Look yours up and see if you can tell how old it is.  Here’s a sample of the list.

1.  Banana Boat – First two numbers are the year, last three numbers are the month (e.g 032 = Feb 1)

2.  Coppertone – First two numbers are the year, Letter is the month ( A=Jan, B=Feb)

3.  Hawaiian Tropic – First number is the year, Letter is the month

4.  Neutrogena – It may have an expiration date on it.  First three digits are number day of year (up to 365) Last number is the year

5.  Water Babies – Last number is the year, letter is the month (A= Jan, B=Feb, G=June, etc).

Most of these products only last 3 years however the Banana Boat is said to last up to 6 years.  The most important thing is that you use sunscreen whenever you are going to be outside for any length of time.  There’s really no reason not to.

Personally, I like the spray sunscreens best.  What do you other runners/jugglers use?  Anything?

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I got a really nasty burn/sun poisoning a few weeks ago due to some bad sunscreen. Everyone, PLEASE use this guide and check yours!

    I’m bad about using it to run, and tend to remember only when I go to the beach or something like that (may also explain why I always end up with tons of strap marks on my arms from my iPod, RoadID, etc). However, I always wear facial moisturizer that has 30 SPF. And last year at a race I did (can’t remember if it was the Boilermaker or the Freihofer’s) they gave out full-sized spray cans of Neutrogena sunscreen. I’ll have to try using that this season.

  2. Great advice! I have seen several in the stores lately with an easy to read expiration date sitting on the shelf expired. My all time favorite for sports is Coppertone Active Spray. No rub – spray on and it stays put!

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