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Does spray sunscreen work as well as lotion? | VERIFY

Even people with the best SPF intentions can miss the mark, which can result in sunburn.

WASHINGTON — If summertime had a smell–it might be that of freshly applied sunscreen wafting through the air. But is a spritz of SPF doing the job?


Does spray sunscreen work as well as a lotion?



Yes, spray sunscreen is just as effective as lotion, but both require proper use.


While Dr. Kathleen Ellison personally prefers lotion-based sunscreens, she knows many of her patients prefer the spray-on variety and that’s ok with her.

“The best sunscreen is the one that you like to wear,” said the dermatologist with US Dermatology Partners Fairfax. “It's important to have adequate coverage on your skin.”

Adequate coverage means properly applied, and even people with the best SPF intentions can miss the mark. For lotion or cream-based, experts recommend the equivalent of about a shot glass full of sunscreen for every adult. When using spray, make sure you’re actually applying it to your skin–not the environment around you. 

“Maybe a little bit of it landed on the person, but most of it floated off in the breeze, said Dr. Allison Larson, Chair of Dermatology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She says to consider applying spray somewhere without a breeze, even indoors.

This isn’t a "spritz and go" option, no matter what the bottle says—our experts recommend you apply it close to your skin, in a layer thick enough your skin gets shiny, then you rub it in. 

The FDA says not to use spray sunscreen on your face, or to inhale it.

It’s also important to make sure you’re nowhere near a grill or an open flame–as the American Academy of Dermatology explains aerosol sunscreen can sometimes be flammable. 

For any kind of sunscreen, be sure to apply it at least 15 minutes before sun exposure, so it kicks in, and make sure you reapply. Dermatologists told Verify that the biggest sunscreen mistake they see is patients not properly reapplying: the recommendation is to put on a fresh layer of sunscreen at least every two hours, more often when you’re swimming or sweating. 

Watch Next: Does sunscreen expire? | Verify

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