Why I Don’t Use Spray Sunscreen (& You Shouldn’t Either)

by Gio
why spray sunscreen doesn't provide adequate sun protection

Don’t you LOVE it when things are made easier for you?

Like, having takeout dinner delivered right to your door. Getting prepaid return bags with your online order. Being able to pay for the bus with Apple Pay.

You could argue that convenience is making us lazy. I don’t care. If it makes my life easier, I’m all for it. Always.

Well, almost always. Every rule has an exception, hasn’t it? Mine is spray sunscreen. Here’s why:

Can Spray Sunscreen Provide Adequate Sun Protection?

Let’s be clear here: spray sunscreens do have what it takes to provide broad spectrum protection. They use the same UV filters as all other sunscreens.

Yet, they still fail at the job. The formula’s good but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

Here’s the deal: if you want to get the level of SPF stated on the bottle, you need to apply sunscreen generously. The recommended amount is 1/4 of a teaspoon for the face and a small glass shot for the body.

How the heck can you do that if you can’t see the sunscreen?!

That’s the issue here. Creams sunscreens may be thick and greasy, but at least you can see them. You know exactly where you apply them.

Spray sunscreens have lightweight textures that make them a pleasure to use. But they’re transparent. It’s hard to spray the recommended amount of sunscreen you need BUT easy to miss a spot or two.

Guess what happens to those spots? Sun damage. Ugh.

P.S. And don’t get me started on the spray sunscreen that has landed on your towel or your neighbour. Yep, not all the sunscreen you spray on your skin actually ends up on your skin. What a waste!

Related: How Much Sunscreen Do You Really Need?

But You Can Still Use Spray Sunscreen To Top Up Your Sunscreen During The Day

You get it. I’m not a fan of spray sunscreen. But I can’t redo my makeup every time I need to reapply my sunscreen either.

That’s where spray sunscreen comes in. If you’re in need of a sunscreen touch-up, they do the job without messing up your makeup.

It doesn’t give you the same protection but hey, it’s way way way better than not reapplying your sunscreen at all cos you don’t want to ruin your makeup.

Just be sure not to rely on spray sunscreen alone. Spray sunscreen should NEVER be your first – or only – line of defense against the sun.

Related: How I Reapply Sunscreen While Wearing Makeup

The bottom line

Spray sunscreens are convenient, but tricky to apply right. Miss a spot and you may end up with a sunburn. Don’t risk it!

What are your thoughts on spray sunscreens? Share them in the comments below.



Trisha June 3, 2014 - 6:09 pm

I totally get what you’re saying, but I’ll still use them in some cases. For instance, I live alone. If I’m going out in something that shows my back, I don’t have anyone to put sunscreen on me. So, in those cases, I’ll use the lotion variety where I can reach, and then spray my back. Better than nothing, right?

But…there are those times where I’m like, “Eff it,” and I only use spray. Shh…don’t tell anyone! 😉

Gio June 3, 2014 - 7:56 pm

Trisha, you make a good point. I guess there are cases when a spray sunscreen can be preferable to a lotion. It may not provide as much protection, but it’s definitely better than nothing, I agree.

MonicaP June 3, 2014 - 6:19 pm

I agree with Trisha .. if I’m alone and I often am as my husband travels, then out comes the spray. However, I don’t like using it as it gets everywhere and I just don’t think it’s all that good for the environment 😛 .. but sure, I’ll use it once in a while.


Gio June 3, 2014 - 7:57 pm

Monica, it’s not the best option, is it? But I suppose, sometimes, it can’t be avoided. Always better than using nothing at all. 🙂

audrey March 8, 2017 - 4:45 am

I don’t live alone but I always use sunscreen by myself and I can reach every inch of my body (including my back) just fine. For upper back, fold your hands like you’re giving a massage to your shoulder and upper back. For lower back, fold your hands the other way (looks like you’re trying to hug your back). I always moisturise and use sunscreen this way by myself, no need for help of others or spray sunscreens. I avoid them like a plague because their nano particles should never be inhaled by our lungs. Ever.

Gio March 14, 2017 - 8:17 pm

Audrey, thanks for sharing. I admit I struggle with applying sunscreen on my back alone so I will definitely try this.

HotlantaVoyeur October 27, 2014 - 4:10 am

Would you please do me the favor of changing the photo attribution in this Blog Entry to my HotlantaVoyeur moniker, rather than my proper name. Your blog entry is so popular that the image is in the top two photos when you search for JD Harvill images on Yahoo!
And congrats on getting that kind of following.

Gio October 28, 2014 - 9:38 pm

JD, sure, no problem, I just changed it.

Thank you for your kind words, and for allowing me to use your photo.

H April 3, 2016 - 11:03 pm

Wannabout reapplication? Like in the morning putting the body sunscreen lotion on, but later using the spray for touch ups? Sooo much easier …. like how easy is it to lug a big 8-12oz. bottle in your purse to do that, not even at that considering how you’d keep your hair from sticking to yourself…and the shine till it absorbs? Uh!

Can you do 1/2 and 1/2 with the sunscreen lotion and spray too? Like less than directed for your neck using the lotion, but making up for that by using the spray immediately on top of that? Overall you’re also having less damaging alcohol sprayed on your skin so that’s a plus if it’s a valid option… 🙂

Gio April 8, 2016 - 1:20 pm

H, the problem with spray sunscreen is that it’s so difficult to apply evenly. How can you tell if you missed a spot?

I guess that could be an option if both sunscreens had the same active sunscreen ingredients. If not, better stick to just one product. It’s safer.

H April 9, 2016 - 1:58 am

Well I guess I could spray myself several times to make sure I don’t miss a spot.

H April 9, 2016 - 2:02 am

P.S. How do I get my profile picture up on my comment? I just posted my profile picture up on my Gmail account since I didn’t have one before,so since I just replied to a comment it should show up,I think. 🙂

Gio April 11, 2016 - 3:59 pm

Yes, you could. But then, it’s run out pretty quickly.

I think you need a gravatar for the photo. You can get one here: https://en.gravatar.com/ It’s free.

audrey March 8, 2017 - 4:48 am

Use powder sunscreen instead if you hate reapplying lotion-type sunscreen. Colorescience make a great one! It also has a tint so it works as a makeup touch up too 🙂

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