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The weather is warmer, the days are longer and more people are spending time outside, meaning summertime is in full swing. But before you make a mad dash to the park or the beach, ask yourself: “Have I applied sunscreen today?” If the answer is no, you need to change that prior to going outdoors.
You might think you can get away without sustaining a sun burn, or that applying sunscreen might dull the potential tan you’re hoping to get. The truth is that by going outside without wearing sunscreen is putting your skin at risk for way more than sunburn.
The damage we sustain isn’t always something that can be seen, and when it can be, it is sometimes too late to rectify. Unprotected exposure to the sun and accompanying UV rays can lead to developing more wrinkles and moles as you age, or worse: skin cancer. Rather than play a game of chance, it’s recommended to just apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside so that you’re not only protecting your skin, but assisting it in maintaining a healthy appearance and condition.
So no matter what season it is, make sure you’re applying and re-applying sunscreen if you plan on being outside. Since we spend more time outside and the temperatures get hotter during the summer, this becomes even more important; it can be easy to get caught up in activities and forget to apply or re-apply, which can open you up to an increased risk.
Unfortunately, many people are still not applying sunscreen; the RealSelf Sun Safety Report conducted in 2020 revealed that while 62% of Americans implement some sort of anti-aging product into their routine, only 11% are wearing sunscreen. What’s worse: a surprising 46% of people admit that they do not wear sunscreen at all.
The study provided a litany of reasons why, from simply not liking the way it feels on their skin to just forgetting to do so. One reason could be convenience, which could be solved by investing in a trusted spray sunscreen.
Spray Sunscreen Buying Guide
As its name suggests, a spray sunscreen is applying by spraying or misting the formula onto your face or skin rather than having to lather it on like a lotion. The best spray sunscreens are thinner in consistency and can be an attractive option for those who don’t want to waste precious time working sunscreen into their skin — something typically associated with thicker, mineral-based sunscreens.
By comparison, the idea of simply spraying it onto our bodies and massaging it into our skin seems more convenient. However, there are some misconceptions associated with spray sunscreens that should be cleared up, specifically about how to correctly apply them.
Are Spray Sunscreens Effective?
“The way spray sunscreens are packaged and dispensed makes it easy to assume we should mist the product in front of our faces when applying,” says Shane Miller, a licensed esthetician and the creator of the popular skincare Instagram account @howtohydrate. “However, the airborne nature of this method prevents the full amount of product from reaching our faces, ultimately resulting in an uneven level of protection. This can be due to wind, how far the bottle is held from the face, and the specific type of spray nozzle.”
Instead, Miller advises to spray the product directly into your palms and then massage gently onto your face or body. In order to ensure you’re receiving optimal sun protection, make sure you’re applying two milligrams of product per square centimeter of your face. If you’re confused on how to do this, or not the best at math, fear not: you can use a ¼ teaspoon to help you measure.
“Whenever I buy a new sunscreen mist, I like to count the number of sprays it takes to fill the entire ¼ teaspoon,” Miller says. “Noting this number simplifies future spray applications because I can dispense that number of sprays into my palms, which is far less time consuming than spraying it into the spoon for each use.”
If you’re wearing makeup and are nervous about using your hands on your face, you can spray your face directly, though make sure you do so in a non-windy area while keeping your eyes closed and holding the bottle comfortably close as you liberally spray the product on your face. Miller recommends spraying at least three layers minimum, with 4-5 layers being a safer practice.
As for the rest of your body, Miller recommends spraying the product into your hands and working it in, though you can hold the nozzle close to your skin and spray it directly; they key is to ensure it’s hitting your skin and not blowing away in the breeze, and to follow up by massaging the sunscreen into your skin.
What Are the Best Spray Sunscreens?
We round up some of the best spray sunscreens you can buy online, from all-purpose picks that work for your entire body and face, to lightweight formulas ideal for sensitive skin or for wearing over makeup.
1. Supergoop! (Re)setting Mist SPF 40
We previously featured Supergoop! on our list of the best body butters, and we’re pleased to announce their (Re)setting Mist is every bit as winning. Not only does this weightless sunscreen shield your face from the damage of UV rays, but also sets your makeup to keep your look as fresh as the moment you applied it, giving your skin a natural matte finish instead of a greasy or overly shiny look. Remember to shake before using, and generously apply to ensure your face is covered. We recommend using this on your face.
2. Suntegrity Milky Mineral Sun Serum Spray SPF 50
This sun screen from Suntegrity is the best of both worlds; an effective mineral sunscreen and a skin serum that’s packaged in a convenient spray pump (this isn’t, however, an aerosol). While this mineral-based sunscreen is milky in texture, you won’t be spending time working this into your skin. Instead, you’ll be amazed as how this melts into your skin, casting a strong defense against the sun’s harmful rays while also providing your skin the nourishment it needs to remain healthy and lithe.
Unlike aerosol sunscreens, you should always avoid spraying this on your face. Always spray some on your hands and massage it onto your face for best coverage.
3. Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Face Mist SPF 45
This refreshingly lightweight spray sunscreen provides your face with the protection it needs from harmful UV rays. Its oil-free, water-resistant and dermatologist-approved formula is suitable for all skin types and lasts up to 40 minutes. We recommend using this on your face.
4. La Roche-Posay Ultra-Light Sunscreen Spray SPF 60
Amazon’s Choice for spray-on sunscreen is also one of our top choices, as it provides even coverage for all skin types and shades. It leaves behind a non-greasy, water-resistant finish that keeps your skin safe so you can enjoy the sunshine without worrying. In short, there’s a reason why it’s the winner of over 90 Beauty Awards.
The ultra-lightweight formula makes this a good spray sunscreen for your body and face. The SPF 60 is also the highest SPF rating on our list.
5. COOLA Organic Makeup Setting Spray with SPF 30
COOLA’s spray sunscreen is one of Miller’s staples, particularly because it’s sweat-friendly and it leaves a nice finish once it’s been applied, as opposed to other options which sometimes leave your face looking dewier than desired.
“It sits nicely on your face when you’re reapplying over your makeup,” Miller says. “Plus, it’s so easy to just slip this in your bag when you’re on the go.” Though it’s technically marketed as a “makeup setting spray,” it offers SPF 30 protection so it’s great to use with or without makeup.
6. Bondi Sands Sunscreen Aerosol SPF 50
Boasting a winning combination of Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, Bondi Sands’ spray sunscreen promises to not only protect, but moisturize your skin as well (for at least 72 hours).