Suffering from a sunburn? Ouch! Sunburns can feel miserable, and what's worse, unprotected exposure to sun could cause cancer or skin damage, such as wrinkling, sagging, and discoloration. That's why it's really important to use sunscreen with the right SPF to avoid harmful UV rays. If you get frustrated trying to rub in sunscreen lotion, consider a spray instead, which is convenient to use and absorbs quickly and easily into the skin.
If you're wondering which sunscreen spray to choose, we combed through reviews on Amazon and created a list of 10 recommendations. The winning product was Neutrogena's Wet Skin Sunscreen, which is hypoallergenic, sprays evenly, and can be re-applied on wet skin. Be sure to also take a look at our buying guide with tips for picking out the best spray for you!
Here is our list of the top 10 best sunscreen sprays that are highly recommended on Amazon. We compared them by factors such as the type of sunscreen, SPF, protection spectrum, and skin-friendliness.
|Free from||PABA, oil|
|Free from||PABA, parabens, gluten|
|Free from||PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances, nano-particles|
Coconut Clear Spray
|Free from||Oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrances|
|Free from||Oil, fragrances, parabens|
|Free from||Oxybenzone, parabens, fragrances, gluten, phthalates, chemical propellants, animal products|
|Free from||Octinoxate, oxybenzone, gluten|
|Free from||Oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, soy, dairy, peanut, almond, walnut, fragrances|
Elta MD Skincare
Kiss My Face
Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen
Silk Hydration Weightless Clear Spray Sunscreen
Ultra Sport Sunscreen Spray
Continuous Spray Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer
UV Aero Full-Body Sunscreen
Cool Sport Spray Sunscreen
Mineral Sunscreen Spray
Sheer Zinc Sunscreen
Water-Resistant and Hypoallergenic Sunscreen
Tropical Sunscreen With a Weightless Formula
Effective UV Protection for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Get a Great Tan and Antioxidant Benefits
A Baby-Friendly Product With a Nourishing Oil Blend
Enriched With Botanical Emollients to Nourish the Skin
Noncomedogenic Sunscreen for All Skin Types
Vegan and Cruelty-Free With Vitamin E and Cucumber
This Sunscreen Sprays on Matte
Mineral-Based Formula Safe for Kids and Babies
|Amount||5 oz.||6 oz.||6 oz.||6 oz.||6 oz.||6 oz.||6 oz.||6 oz.||6 oz.||6 oz.|
|Free from||PABA, oil||-||-||PABA, parabens, gluten||PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances, nano-particles||Oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrances||Oil, fragrances, parabens||Oxybenzone, parabens, fragrances, gluten, phthalates, chemical propellants, animal products||Octinoxate, oxybenzone, gluten||Oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, soy, dairy, peanut, almond, walnut, fragrances|
Choosing a suitable sunscreen spray is not easy, since there are various products with somewhat similar ingredients. Therefore, you need to think about factors such as the type of the sunscreen and the SPF ratings to ensure that the product actually works for you. Take a look at this buying guide for more details!
There are two types of sunscreens: chemical-based and mineral-based. Each type has its own pros and cons, so take these into consideration before you choose a product!
Chemical sunscreens often contain active chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, or octocrylene. They work by absorbing and dissipating the sun's UV rays.
Compared to mineral sunscreens, chemical ones are easy and quick to apply and don't leave behind a white residue on the skin. However, chemical sunscreens might trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin or worsen skin conditions such as melasma or rosacea.
Furthermore, some UV blockers such as oxybenzone or octinoxate have been shown to damage coral reefs. So if you want to look for a reef-friendly option, make sure the ingredients list doesn't contain any of the chemicals that are detrimental to reefs.
Mineral sunscreens, otherwise known as physical sunscreens, are formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Once applied, they form a protective barrier on your skin and reflect damaging UV rays. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which take about 20 to 30 minutes to actually take effect, mineral sunscreens scatter UV rays immediately after they're applied.
But mineral sunscreens are not always the best option. You'll need to reapply mineral sunscreen more frequently. Moreover, mineral sunscreens tend to leave behind an annoying white residue on your skin. The texture might be a bit thicker than that of a chemical sunscreen, so make sure to really rub the mineral sunscreen in.
Still, mineral sunscreens have been shown to be gentle on sensitive skin and safe for babies as well as pregnant women. So if your skin is easily irritated, look into a mineral product instead!
Some products highlight the fact that they are don't contain a variety of ingredients, such as oil, PABA, or parabens. That doesn't mean these ingredients are inherently bad or harmful. It can be confusing to determine what's safe and what's potentially risky, especially since studies aren't currently conclusive either way.
The best strategy is to do some research yourself to learn more about these ingredients and weigh the pros and cons of using a product that contains them depending on your skin type and personal preferences. If you're eco-conscious, also read up on how different ingredients affect the environment.
When it comes to finding a sunscreen spray that is safe for ocean habitats, do keep in mind that "reef-safe" is a label that's not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. To be reef-safe, sunscreens must not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate.
Unfortunately, even products free of those chemicals may contain other ingredients that could cause harm to the reefs, such as octocrylene, PABA, and homosalate. You can look online for more complete lists of chemicals that might be marine pollutants.
Look up the ingredients on the back of the bottle and investigate whether they are reef friendly. You can do web searches, look for more information on the manufacturer's website, or contact the manufacturer directly with questions. If you're traveling to an ocean location, make sure you're aware of any sunscreen bans and find a product that will meet the standards.
Also check the size of the particles in your sunscreen. A reef-safe sunscreen should be non-nanotized, that is, the particles should be larger than 100 nanometers. If they're any smaller, they can be absorbed by reefs and damage or kill coral.
Another consideration is your own health: inhaling nanoparticles from spray sunscreen could pose respiratory risks. Keep this in mind when deciding if a spray or lotion sunscreen works best for you. If you do choose a spray sunscreen, be sure to apply safely and be conscious of people downwind from you who could also be exposed to the emitted nanoparticles.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a number that shows how well a sunscreen can protect the skin from UVB, rays which are the main cause of sunburns and skin cancers. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the SPF number is, the more protection you get.
Typically, an SPF 15 sunscreen can block about 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 can stop 97 percent, SPF 50 approximately 98 percent, and SPF 100 about 99 percent. It's important to keep in mind that no sunscreen can filter out 100 percent of UVB rays. Generally, dermatologists suggest that you choose sunscreens with high SPF ratings (SPF 15 or 30 or higher).
However, the SPF number does not indicate how often you should reapply the sunscreen. No matter how high the SPF rating is, the Federal Food and Drug Administration recommends that people reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and more when swimming or sweating. Be sure to check the sunscreen label for their application recommendations.
Many people think that SPF is the only number to pay attention to, but that does not say anything about UVA rays. It's important to know that both of these UV rays can do harm to your body. According to the American Cancer Society, UVB rays can lead to sunburns and skin cancers, and UVA rays can cause premature aging and skin cancer as well!
Therefore, you should choose sunscreens that are labeled "broad spectrum" to ensure that your skin is protected against both UVA and UVB rays. According to the FDA, products labeled "broad spectrum" have a UVA protection level equivalent to the SPF rating.
If you usually exercise outdoors, go swimming, or just sweat a lot, you should definitely consider using a water-resistant product to keep your skin protected even after sweating or exposure to water.
Note that if you're toweling off after getting out of the water, you might be rubbing off sunscreen, so be sure to reapply. Some sunscreens may even be designed to be applied to wet skin so you don't have to wait to dry off!
However, you should keep in mind that "water-resistant" doesn't equal "waterproof". Water-resistant sunscreens typically last for either 40 or 80 minutes after your skin gets wet, so you should reapply sunscreen after that time period!
The free radicals generated by UV exposure have been shown to degrade the quality of your skin and accelerate the aging process. Sadly, even a high SPF sunscreen cannot completely shield your skin from those stubborn free radicals.
To help neutralize free radical damage better, many brands add antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, or ferulic acid. Some sunscreens are also formulated with ceramides to help lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated all the time.
If you're looking for some added benefits besides UV ray protection, then look for products with nourishing antioxidants and hydrating ingredients!
Using a sunscreen spray can be tricky, since you might accidentally inhale the chemicals or get it in your eyes. If you're not spraying enough, you won't get sufficient sun protection either. So take a look at our tips to avoid such situations!
Many people prefer using a sunscreen spray over other lotion or liquid options since it's easy and quick to apply. However, using a spray is trickier than applying lotion to your skin. You have to spray a generous amount (about an ounce of sunscreen for an adult) in order to get benefits.
With most sprays, it's hard to see if you're applying enough, so try to spray until your skin glistens to avoid missing spots. Make sure to rub the sunscreen in carefully afterward to get even coverage. Additionally, check the back of the bottle to see if there are instructions about applying sunscreen before you go outside or if you can immediately be exposed to sun after applying.
Don't spray sunscreen near your face or mouth so that you avoid inhaling spray sunscreen, which might lead to health hazards.
Studies have shown that inhaling titanium dioxide, a common sunscreen ingredient, is carcinogenic to rodents, leading to concerns that inhalation could have a negative effect on humans. Additionally, sunscreens formulated with a high amount of alcohol could also irritate the lungs.
While there are some potential risks, there are not yet conclusive studies to determine with certainty the risk of harm to humans and at what quantities of exposure. Still, it's better to be cautious and keep spray sunscreen away from your eyes, mouth, and nose. Plus you'll avoid the unpleasantness of sunscreen in your eyes or mouth, which might taste bad or sting!
As children might struggle to hold still while being sprayed, they might accidentally inhale the product or get it in their eyes. If possible, you should use a lotion sunscreen for kids. But if you have no other options, spray the sunscreen into your hands first then apply to your child's skin. This is also a good method for applying spray sunscreen to your face.
Try not to use spray sunscreen in windy conditions either, which will make it difficult to apply and might cause you to inadvertently inhale the spray. If you can, find a place that's sheltered from the wind then spray on sunscreen, or if there's no escaping the wind, then spray some sunscreen onto your hands and apply by hand.
Also, don't apply sprays if you're near heat or an open fire since sunscreens in aerosol form might be flammable due to alcohol content. Avoid spraying near grills or lit cigarettes. If possible, avoid any sources of fire after application, but if you must, first ensure that the sunscreen has dried and that your skin is completely dry.
If you're looking for a little more information about how the sun can damage your skin and why sunscreen is so important, check out this video from TED-Ed. You'll learn about UV ray basics and how sunscreen fights them.
Now that you've found the perfect sunscreen spray, you can have fun in the sun without stressing about getting sunburned! Check out these articles for summer activity inspiration.
A sunscreen spray is convenient to use and will help you fight off the bad UV rays. But make sure that you spray a sufficient amount on your skin and really rub it in so that you can reap all the benefits.
Also pay attention to factors such as the water resistance, SPF rating, and spectrum protection to ensure that the sunscreen spray meets your needs. Now that you know how to choose a sunscreen spray and how to use it effectively, go get yourself a product and enjoy playing outdoors!
Author: Thuy Nguyen
Sunscreen spray is a great way to protect your skin, whether you're at the beach, by the pool, or on a hike. But what about everyday outdoor exposure? Consider adding products to your makeup routine that include SPF. To get you started, fashion and lifestyle blogger Allison Bucheleres recommends this tinted serum with SPF 40.
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