Spray or Lotion: The Sunblock Debate

Some people might consider spray and stick sunscreens to be the greatest thing to happen to sunblock - especially families trying to frantically slather sunscreen over their kids all summer. But some people may not share the same opinion, and it’s had to filter down into practices like mine where we’re frequently asked about which sunscreens are the most effective.

It’s a hard question to answer because we need better data in order to provide the most accurate answer. However, a recently published study was the first of its kind to measure the effectiveness of the concentration applied to the skin of study participants.

The result? The initial concentration of spray and stick sunscreen actually seemed to better or as good as using regular sun lotion. Even better, allergy sensitizers weren’t detected in the spray or stick sunscreens either. Given that participant preferences were geared towards spray formulations, these findings were comforting.

However, there have been health concerns with regards to inhalation of spray sunscreens, but there haven’t been any restrictions on using them. Instead, the FDA recommends against spraying directly on your face and minimizing your inhalation while you’re spraying. More research needs to go into this, but for now I’m in full agreement.

On a personal note, given how little data we have on the safety and protective effectiveness of spray sunscreen at the moment, I would suggest two applications: put sunscreen cream on before you leave the house, and use spray sunscreen while outside to reapply. At the moment, that feels like the safest option to me to ensure your skin is protected. Hopefully, we’ll be able to advise on this much more in the near future!

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