Here’s Why You Should Never Use Spray Sunscreen

There’s no denying spray sunscreen is the quickest and most convenient way to protect against the sun. When choosing between rubbing in a cream sunscreen or giving yourself a quick spritz, we can see why you would go with the latter. However, celebrity dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler claims spray sunscreen isn’t doing much protection against the sun at all.

She pointed out that most people don’t block out the sun as much as they should. Even if you’re regularly applying a spray while outdoors, the lack of consistency in coverage leaves you at risk of UV damage and burns.

Instead, you should always apply a generous layer of cream sunscreen. “The amount needed to get the given SPF is usually heavy and drippy,” Wexler says.

Woman applying sunscreen

Woman applying sunscreen | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

Be careful to check for broad spectrum UVA/UVB labels, as this will provide the most protection. Plus, if you plan to swim or expect to be sweating, you’ll want to make sure you pick up a water resistant option.

“Reapply every two hours in the sun, as they degrade in active UV light,” Wexler advises. “Also reapply the SPF after sweating or swimming.”

No matter how much sunscreen you have on, you should simply avoid the sun when possible. “Seek shade — especially between the hours of 11 AM and 4 PM, particularly at high noon.” Wexler adds, “Use common sense. If you feel like you are burning, get out of the sun. Whenever possible, use sun protective clothing, hats with brims, and polarized sunglasses.”

When it comes to your eyes, you should always make sure to wear high-quality sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection. High quality doesn’t necessarily have to mean expensive, but you should know what to look out for.

Even if you found the perfect pair of sunnies at Target that have a UV protection label, it can never hurt to have a professional make sure they’ll work the way they’re supposed to. New York-based optometrist and past president of the American Optometric Association, Dr. Andrea Thau, definitely stands by this method.

“You can determine if they are safe by bringing them to your doctor of optometry to have them checked during your annual comprehensive eye examination,” she says. “We have methods of testing their UV protection, and unfortunately, you can’t tell if they have UV protection from just looking at them.”

Woman applying sunscreen

Woman applying sunscreen | LiudmylaSupynska/iStock/Getty Images

A hat that provides enough coverage will also work wonders to protect your eyes, hair, and face. “A baseball cap will give only overhead protection; instead, wear a hat with a wide brim,” Wexler claims. “They can laugh at you now — but you can laugh when they have the wrinkles!”

If you do end up with any sunburn — because let’s be honest, it happens to the best of us — Wexler has some tricks up her sleeve. First, take an Advil or an aspirin, which will cut down on inflammation and the burn’s intensity.

Then, she says, “Cool compress with ice cold skim milk.” Not only will you calm your skin, but the protein in skim milk will create a protective film overtop of your sunburn to protect it from further damage.

You should take precautions against the sun year-round — not just in the summer. Wexler notes, “UVA is present 365 days a year, rain or shine; therefore SPF is necessary 365 days a year.”