What about Spray Sunscreen?
Use of Spray Sunscreen has risen sharply over the past few years, with most major sunscreen manufacturers offering a spray option in their product lineup. The reason for the popularity of spray sunscreen is simple—convenience. It takes less time to apply a spray than a lotion, and parents especially seem to like it for their kids.
But there are some important safety precautions every parent should adhere to when applying spray sunscreen on their child. Spray sunscreens are like many consumer products in that they are not inherently dangerous to use. It’s only when we forget about common sense that spray sunscreens become a concern.
In 2012, a Massachusetts man was burned after applying spray sunscreen and then walking over to a hot barbecue grill. The bottle of sunscreen was clearly marked to not use near fire or flame. The man assumed that because it was on his skin and not in the air that it was no longer flammable. This is where common sense would have kept him from getting burned. If you dip your finger in gasoline and then hold a lighted match to your finger, is there any doubt your finger will burn like a candle?
Spray sunscreens are not inherently dangerous, they just need to be used properly. Below are some common sense suggestions for applying spray sunscreen so that it will perform effectively and be perfectly safe:
Like the man from Massachusetts learned, spray sunscreen can be flammable—even when on your skin. Before getting near that grill, make sure the sunscreen has been rubber thoroughly into your skin and has dried (the alcohol has evaporated off) and is no longer wet to the touch. It’s a simple precaution that will keep you from getting burned!
It is not advised to use spray sunscreen in windy conditions for two reasons. First, it will not apply well. Have you ever tried spray painting a craft or hobby item outside when it’s windy? Same problem with spray sunscreen. Second, windy conditions can cause overspray to be accidentally inhaled. There’s not much data on the toxicity of inhaling spray sunscreen, but again, common sense would suggest that it’s just not safe to breathe it in. Parents should be particularly diligent when applying spray sunscreen to their kids.
IN YOUR FACE—
It’s fine to spray sunscreen on your arms, legs, chest or back, but you face is off limits. It’s another way to accidentally inhale the product, and it can also get in your eyes. To apply to your face, spray a generous amount on your hand, rub together with other hand, and apply to your face.
RUB IT IN—
Too get even coverage, it’s a good idea to spread spray sunscreen with your hands after application. The reason is that the spray may not be completely covering every part of your skin. By rubbing it around and into your skin, you will be sure to have an even layer of protection.
Is the convenience worth it?
Spray sunscreens have become popular because they are viewed as more convenient by consumers. But with this convenience, are you sacrificing the effectiveness of the sunscreen? Spray sunscreen has an SPF rating just like lotions do. Studies show that the average consumer applies spray sunscreen for just a second or two—or about a quarter of the amount needed to achieve the stated SPF. So if you want the convenience of a spray sunscreen, but would like to avoid getting burned (that’s why you put it on, right?), then you should spray for about 6 seconds from about 6-8 inches away over the areas you want to protect. When applied properly, the area will temporarily appear white. When you rub it in, you should see a definite “film” of sunscreen.
So next time you head outdoors, don’t forget your sunscreen. And if that sunscreen is a spray, don’t forget the common sense. Remember that spray sunscreen is only as safe as the person applying it.