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3 Reasons You Should Never Touch Spray Sunscreen

Aerosolized and spray sunscreens will never be found in my house. Read on to find out why I will not use spray sunscreen, not even spray on mineral sunscreen or spray sunscreen with zinc oxide. Here is what you need to know about sunscreen spray on safety. 

3 Reasons You Should Never Use Spray Sunscreen, aerosolized sunscreen

Spray Sunscreen

Is spray sunscreen dangerous?

The FDA hasn’t decided yet, but in the meantime, Consumer Reports recommended that people avoid it until we know better, particularly on kids. After personally testing over 100 natural sunscreens, I’m treating it as NOT SAFE for three huge reasons, the third of which you’ll see right away in this video:

If you can’t view the video above, find it at “spray sunscreen is dangerous” on YouTube.

Best Spray Sunscreens

There isn’t one… but people are still searching for it so I have to put it there. 🙂

Spray On Sunscreen Safety

What do you think? Is spray-on sunscreen bad for you?

The FDA started the process of investigating spray sunscreens (and more) in 2011.

But they never finalized their recommendations! The proposed rules in the Federal Register say: “Considering the greatly increasing number of sunscreen products formulated as sprays, it is critical that the safety and effectiveness of this dosage form be adequately supported.”

And what has happened in that time, between 2011 and the present? The number of spray sunscreens on the market has only increased, even though we have no idea if they’re safe and effective or not!

I want to be the voice saying NO WAY, NO SPRAY SUNSCREENS, especially to daycare centers who are requiring that parents bring ONLY spray sunscreen!

3 Reasons You Should Never Touch Spray Sunscreen, spray on sunscreen

Is Spray Sunscreen Bad?

Here are some notes from the video for those who would rather read:

1. Aerosol Spray Sunscreen has an Inhalation Danger

If you can smell it, particles are going into your lungs.

In the same way as secondhand smoke can cause cancer, whatever is in the spray sunscreen is being delivered to your kids’ lungs, and we’re really not sure the effect it may have. Allergy doctors in particular are concerned about its impact on kids, especially those with allergies or asthma already.

One doctor said:

“The substances will go into the body and will have to be dealt with through the liver…the largest filtration organ of the body.”

We really don’t know when babies’ livers begin to work properly to filter the junk they’re exposed to through skin, air and food, which is why many personal care products simply aren’t rated for kids under 2.

Most say to hold your breath when spraying sunscreens, but very young children aren’t good at holding their breath anyway.

Personally, I’m much more cautious. I don’t want it around my kids at all.

2. Conventional Sunscreen Isn’t Safe for Your Skin Anyway

kids with sunscreen on face

I’ve written about the dangers of chemical sunscreen many times, but in a nutshell, the two greatest risks of the active ingredients in conventional sunscreens are:

  • hormone disruptors that act as estrogen in the body after being absorbed through the skin and are also potent allergens for some children
  • free radicals (cancer-causing!) formed when the sunscreen reacts chemically with the sun

If it’s not safe for your skin, it’s certainly not safe for your lungs. Ditch the sprays!

Erik Kreider is the guy lighting things on fire in the video, and he graciously gave me permission to use clips. He’s also a Standford-trained biochemist who formulated one of our favorite sunscreens ever, Kabana – the only one to start and stay on the “top recommended list” in our massive sunscreen review since 2010.


3. Spray Sunscreen is Highly Flammable

3 Reasons You Should Never Touch Spray Sunscreen

As you saw in the video, aerosol spray sunscreen is flammable, and there are documented cases of people catching fire after applying spray sunscreen, when they walked up to the grill or even stood too close to a citronella candle, for example. Some of these incidents results in spray sunscreen recalls.

Although the FDA hasn’t officially ruled spray sunscreens out, their 2013 consumer update confirms:

“These incidents suggest that there is a possibility of catching fire if you are near an open flame or a spark after spraying on a flammable sunscreen—even if you believe you have waited a sufficient time for the sunscreen to dry and your skin feels dry.”

If that’s not all enough, spray sunscreen is also pegged for having lower SPF than advertised and being notoriously mis-applied, such that people think they’re spraying evenly but really are not getting consistent coverage at all. For many reasons, Consumer Reports repeated their 2011 recommendation in 2014:

“Because of those safety concerns, Consumer Reports doesn’t recommend spray sunscreens for children.”

They’re not the only voice telling us to ditch the spray sunscreens!

“Incomplete protection frequently occurs, and the spray aspect can lead to inhalation of the sunscreen, which is dangerous for the lungs,” says Dr. Danelle Fisher, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “Overall, lotion sunscreen is preferable to spray sunscreen for children.” (source)

Safe Alternatives to Conventional Spray Sunscreen

no spray sunscreens

I get it.

Sprays are SUPER convenient. They’re so quick to reapply on your kids, they pretty much don’t have to towel off and you barely have to look away from the book you’re reading poolside.


Chronic disease is pretty time-consuming, I understand. Let’s invest these few minutes please moms?

The Best Spray On Sunscreen Alternatives 

There are 2 alternatives that I feel are “quicker” than a tube of cream:

1. Facial Sticks

Our 100 sunscreen tests have included about a dozen sticks. The ones we liked are as follows, in order:

There is one downside to the stick sunscreens, according to research, and that’s the light application problem. Sticks tend to go on pretty thinly, so it’s possible that you’re not applying enough to get the promised SPF protection. But if you KNOW that risk, you can work harder to get it on thick, and as long as you’re not seeing sunburns, chances are good the UVA (cancer-causing) rays are also not getting through.

You can watch me put on sunscreen sticks in this video from Facebook where we demo 8 of them.

Raw Elements natural mineral sunscreen - tinted stick and tin

2. Tins/Tubs of Sunscreen

It sounds silly, but if you’re a parent you know that any minor efficiency is GOLDEN. Having sunscreen cream in a tub that sits open for your finger to fly in and out of as you apply to wriggling toddlers is truly just *that* much quicker than picking up and squeezing a tube ten times. Every bit helps!

We’ve enjoyed quite a few tubs of sunscreens (and didn’t like others). Here are the good ones:

Learn more about how to apply natural mineral sunscreens evenly. 

What did you learn about sunscreen spray on safety? Will you stay away from aerosolized sunscreen?

Too much to look through right now?

I organized alllll the sunscreens we reviewed in their recommendation category – one page at-a-glance to find out what is safe to buy AND works! Print it or save to your phone for reference!The guide also includes answers to questions people ask me all the time:
  • Which brand rubs in the clearest?
  • What’s the best for all day outdoor sports?
  • How do I save money on natural sunscreens?
  • What looks good on ladies’ faces?
  • Is there an option that is FAST to apply to wiggly kids?
I’ll send a copy to your email so you can see it right away and find it again later!
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

4 thoughts on “3 Reasons You Should Never Touch Spray Sunscreen”

  1. If you use a spray sunscreen using the active ingredient zinc oxide “Crush Rock” and some child sprays, it into the face of another child that zinc has the potential to cover the lungs with zinc that does not dissolve, and you had better get the child to the hospital immediately.

  2. Just wanted to let you know dads are concerned too. Not only “moms” can do this. Thanks for the info.

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