Lotion vs. Spray: How Effective are Sunscreen Sprays?

Last weekend I spent the day at the beach in Haleiwa. It was a gorgeous day, the sand was hot, the water felt perfect, and there was a slight offshore breeze. As I got up from my towel to head into the water, I couldn’t help but notice this boy. He was spraying sunscreen on himself. However, from what I could see most of the mist went off into thin air rather than his body. I couldn’t help but think, “How effective can these sprays possibly be?”

How effective are sunscreen sprays compared to its lotion counterpart? image via FitSugar

Sunscreen sprays does have its perks. Application is a cinch, it can help you reach those troublesome spots (I know I need help with my upper back.), doesn’t feel sticky on your hands, and is really quick to apply.

But how can you tell where you’ve applied? If you’re reapplying outdoors like the boy I saw, how can you ensure the product is effectively on your skin? According to FitSugar, many sprays contain alcohol, that can aggravate sensitive skin. Not to mention there are potential risks if the spray is inhaled. The FDA says they “need additional data to establish effectiveness and to determine whether they [sunscreen sprays] present a safety concern if inhaled unintentionally.” According to the Environmental Working Group, “sunscreen ingredients are more likely to penetrate the lungs than is lotion applied directly to the skin. Sunscreen sprays contain active ingredients that have been found to cause immediate toxicity issues.”

While the jury is still out on which method of protection is better, there’s no arguing that SPF is definitely necessary and that applying either spray or lotion properly is critical to the product’s effectiveness. Remember that your body requires at least a shot glass worth of sunscreen, applied at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, and needs to be reapplied every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.

Do you use any sunscreen sprays? How have they worked for you? Let us know!

Happy SunEscaping,

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