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We all know how important sunscreen is, but goopy messy creams can be kind of a hassle.
That’s where sunscreen spray comes in.
We got the scoop from dermatologists about what to look for in a spray sunscreen and how to use it correctly. We also asked which products they trusted enough to use themselves.
Here are 12 of our favorite, dermatologist-approved spray sunscreens!
To make sure we got all the details right, we talked to a handful of dermatologists about what to look for in a spray sunscreen (or in any sunscreen, really). Here’s what they said:
Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen. These products protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
According to Todd Minars, MD, of Minars Dermatology, “UVB is what’s responsible for sunburns, peeling, and elasticity issues.” However, he adds that UVA rays are a long-term concern, as they penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB.
Look for a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, of SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care, says, “An SPF of 30 means that only 1/30 of the UVB rays will reach the skin surface, providing a 97 percent sunscreen if applied properly.”
She adds that the only true value in a higher SPF sunscreen is that it may provide additional protection if you don’t apply correctly (tsk, tsk).
Know the pros and cons of mineral and chemical blockers. According to Emmanuel Loucas, MD, of Loucas Dermatology & Laser Center, chemical blockers are great for blocking UVA and UVB rays, but “should be combined with a mineral blocker for optimal protection.”
Zinc and titanium are mineral blockers, although zinc is the most preferable of the two. Loucas adds that 100 percent mineral sprays are also less irritating to kids’ skin and sensitive skin.
Application is everything. There was a consensus among these dermatologists that spray sunscreen application can be a bit tricky. Here’s how to do it right:
- Spray about 4 inches from the skin and rub it in well, being mindful of spots like your hands, the top of your feet, and underneath clothing straps (which may adjust throughout the day).
- Do not spray the face directly (especially for kids)! Spray the sunscreen into your hands and rub it on the face. Be sure to get the ears and scalp, too.
- Reapply as needed, at least every 2 hours.
Here’s how we decided which sunscreens made the cut:
- SPF. Every sunscreen on the list contains at least SPF 30.
- Physical vs. chemical sunscreen. Our highest-ranking product contains both a physical and a chemical sunscreen.
- Broad-spectrum. All of these products offer broad spectrum protection.
This price range is calculated based on the cost of product per ounce (oz.):
$ = under $3 per oz.
$$ = $3–$4.99 per oz.
$$$ = over $5 per oz.
This sunscreen is a dermatologist favorite, personally used by both Loucas and Minars. It’s a broad-spectrum, physical and chemical sunscreen that sprays on white and dries clear so you can see if you missed any spots — so helpful!
This 100 percent mineral sunscreen contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, making it a truly powerful sunscreen that’s great for long, sunny days — especially if you have sensitive skin or kiddos that do.
It also contains skin-soothing ingredients like vitamin C, green tea extract, and mango butter.
This 100 percent mineral spray is made with zinc oxide as its active ingredient, making it kid- and sensitive-skin friendly.
Because it forms a physical barrier and doesn’t absorb into the skin like chemical sunscreens, it has a white tint.
This mineral sunscreen from All Good is literally all good, made with super high-quality ingredients and third-party tested. It’s zinc oxide-based, so it won’t absorb into your skin.
Another 100 percent mineral sunscreen with sun protection provided by zinc oxide, this one also features antioxidants like grape, raspberry, and carrot seed oils and is coconut-mango scented (just don’t eat it).
This fragrance-free zinc oxide spray is ideal for sensitive skin and young children, as it’s free of both chemical blockers and fragrance. However, it’s powerful enough to provide sun protection for the whole family.
This sunscreen boasts that it’s great for sport, but it’s a super-strong chemical sunscreen that’s great for anyone spending a day in the sun. Because it absorbs into the skin, it won’t come off in the water or from sweating (but you still have to reapply on the reg)!
Neutrogena Beach Defense is a dermatologist favorite. It’s a chemical sunscreen that absorbs quickly into the skin and offers powerful protection against sun rays.
For easy application to the face, you can also buy a Beach Defense sunscreen stick.
Trader Joe’s… sunscreen? Yes. And not only was it recommended by Dr. Shainhouse, it was also a top pick by Consumer Reports in 2019.
This chemical sunscreen is non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog your pores) and contains some skin food like aloe and vitamin E.
This sunscreen is marketed for babies and young children, but it’s actually a solid 100 percent chemical option that’s free of irritating ingredients and allergens. It’s also got some skin-soothing aloe and vitamin E.
We promise you won’t turn into a baby if you use it, but that does sound like the premise for an adorable family comedy film.
Unlike the other SunBum product on this list, this one is a 100 percent chemical sunscreen. It’s moisturizing, non-comedogenic, fast-absorbing, and made with hypoallergenic ingredients — perfect for all-ages fun in the sun!
This chemical sunscreen from Neutrogena is for you if you don’t want to feel like you’re wearing sunscreen. It’s light and non-greasy, and applies like, well, a body mist.