Dermatologists share their recommendations.

By Rebecca Norris
June 14, 2021
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woman applying spray sunscreen at beach
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Spray sunscreens are convenient in terms of application, but it can be difficult to quantify the amount you need for proper coverage (choose a cream formula, for example, and you will need a shot glass' worth for your entire body). According to leading dermatologists, you need to take extra care when spritzing on SPF. "Keep the nozzle close to the skin, depending on how wide the spray is and the type of nozzle used," explains board-certified dermatologist Brandith Irwin, who is the founder of SkinTour.com. "If the spray is wider, move closer; if the spray is narrower, move further away."

It's just as critical to work systematically from bottom to top or vice versa, notes Dr. Irwin, so you don't miss any areas. And while you might believe that one of the biggest benefits of spray sunscreens is that you don't need to rub in the product, think again. "Spray sunscreen should not be applied like perfume," says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. "They should be sprayed until the skin glistens. Then the sunscreen should be rubbed in. If you don't see it on your skin, then it is not there."

Planning on using a spray sunscreen on your face? Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman notes to skip the direct spritz. "Spray it into your hands first and then rub it on, avoiding your eyes and mouth," she instructs, adding that you also don't want to inhale any product. As for what not to do? "Never spray sunscreens into the wind, because it will blow it away from your skin," Dr. Zeichner warns. "And don't apply them near a barbecue or an open fire because most are flammable."

Despite spray SPF's popularity, it's also controversial; these formulations can lead to an increased risk of sunburn due to uneven (and often inadequate) application. With this in mind, Dr. Hope Mitchell says that users should spray about one ounce of sunscreen to cover their entire body from the neck down-which means that your standard six-ounce bottle won't last long. Now that you know the pros and the cons, you will find several dermatologist-recommended spray sunscreens, below, so you can find the right product for your needs.

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EltaMD UV Aero Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
Credit: Courtesy of Dermstore

EltaMD

This sunscreen contains "a good percentage of zinc oxide and is easy to apply evenly on the skin," Dr. Irwin says. "The broad spectrum, chemical, and mineral formulation sprays on white and dries clear, making it easier to see if you've missed any areas," adds Dr. Mitchell.

Shop Now: EltaMD UV Aero Broad-Spectrum SPF 45, $34.50, dermstore.com.

Supergoop! PLAY Antioxidant Body Mist SPF 50 With Vitamin C
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Supergoop!

Dr. Engelman loves this option for its sheer spray, which won't irritate or clog skin. Plus, it offers broad spectrum and blue light protection.

Shop Now: Supergoop! PLAY Antioxidant Body Mist SPF 50 With Vitamin C, $21, dermstore.com.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Lightweight Sunscreen Spray SPF 100
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Neutrogena

"This sheer sunscreen stays on well, is non-comedogenic, comes with a high SPF, and has a nice texture," cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green says, applauding the formula.

Shop Now: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Lightweight Sunscreen Spray SPF 100, $11.97, nordstromrack.com.

All Good Sport Sunscreen Spray
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All Good

"The All Good Sport Sunscreen Spray has a great level of 14 percent zinc oxide," Dr. Irwin says. However, she notes that because of this, it could potentially read chalky on those with darker skin types.

Shop Now: All Good Sport Sunscreen Spray, $20, allgoodproducts.com.

COOLA Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

COOLA

"COOLA's Classic Organic Body Sunscreen Spray is great for a few hours in the sun," Dr. Irwin says. With SPF 50 mineral protection, you can feel confident in your coverage.

Shop Now: COOLA Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 50, $25, ulta.com.

Baby Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray Fragrance-Free
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Baby Bum

If you have a super sensitive complexion or body, Dr. Engelman recommends this breathable, non-greasy option. Since it was made with babies in mind, it's gentle enough for all skin types.

Shop Now: Baby Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray Fragrance-Free, $13.99, target.com.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Sunscreen Spray Lotion SPF 60
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

La Roche-Posay

Dr. Engelman, Dr. Green, Dr. Irwin, and Dr. Mitchell all gave this La Roche-Posay spray sunscreen top marks. "It's fragrance free, oil free, paraben free, and formulated with antioxidants, making it a perfect choice for sensitive skin," Dr. Engelman says. Its texture also makes it a "sunscreen and moisturizer in one," Dr. Irwin adds.

Shop Now: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Sunscreen Spray Lotion SPF 60, $24.99, ulta.com.

Blue Lizard Mineral Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 50+ Spray
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Blue Lizard

Blue Lizard is best known for their color-changing packaging, which alerts users when damaging UV rays are present. They've expanded their range to include spray sunscreens, including this SPF 50 option that's great for finicky skin.

Shop Now: Blue Lizard Mineral Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 50+ Spray, $19.99, amazon.com.

Supergoop! 100% Mineral Body Mist SPF 30 with Marigold Extract
Credit: Courtesy of Dermstore

Supergoop!

Looking for a mineral sunscreens? Dr. Green recommends this non-aerosolized spray, which is loaded with mineral blockers and zinc oxide, which together protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Shop Now: Supergoop! 100% Mineral Body Mist SPF 30 with Marigold Extract, $34, dermstore.com.

COOLA Mineral Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
Credit: Courtesy of Ulta

COOLA

"This sheer, non-greasy, mineral formulation moisturizes the skin with glycerin and shea butter as it protects from UV-induced damage," Dr. Mitchell says.

Shop Now: COOLA Mineral Sunscreen Spray SPF 30, $28, ulta.com.

Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
Credit: Courtesy of Target

Sun Bum

If you enjoy the Sun Bum brand, but want to use one of their adult formulas, Dr. Green recommends this moisturizing SPF. "It is one of my favorite sprays because it has such a nice aroma, protects against both UVA and UVB rays, contains vitamin E (which is an anti-aging antioxidant), and is plant-based," she says.

Shop Now: Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Spray SPF 50, $17.49, target.com.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Microfine Body Spray SPF 30
Credit: Courtesy of Dermstore

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare

Last but not least, Dr. Mitchell suggests this lightweight mineral formulation, which she says will leave your skin with a matte finish. "Packed with green tea and aloe, the hydration is a nice bonus," she adds.

Shop Now: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Microfine Body Spray SPF 30, $40, dermstore.com.

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