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What Sunscreens to Avoid: Sprays and Powders

by kelly / June, 25 2014 01:30

I often get asked by my friends and especially mom friends: what should I look for in a sunscreen for myself and for my kids, what's the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen, how much and how often should I apply? Thankfully we've written blog posts on all of these topics! But one question that we have not tackled here yet is: what about spray sunscreens? They seem so easy?

Recently this topic came up with one of my girlfriends as she was planning her summer trip to Mexico. She posted a photo on Instagram of all the sunscreens she packed for her little girls. Of course I wasn't too pleased to see photos of spray sunscreens in her luggage. Yes if there are two things to avoid it's spray and powder sunscreens.

Two Reasons to Avoid Them

Why you ask? Well two simple reasons: not enough sunscreen makes it onto the skin and the health risks associated with inhaling spray or powder sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends against using spray or powder sunscreens. The New York Times also recommends against using spray sunscreens. Plus, according to the EWG, the FDA in December 2012 said this about powder sunscreens:

Decided that powdered sunscreens should no longer be sold under the current over-the-counter sunscreen rules and should be subject to the more rigorous new drug application process (FDA 2011a,b). However, small manufacturers were given one more year to comply with the rules (FDA 2012).

How to Apply Spray Sunscreen If You Must

At this point, the FDA is still reviewing the safety and efficacy of spray sunscreens so we may have some updates soon. Personally, I would avoid any type of spray sunblock. However if you must use a spray sunscreen the one common recommendation is to apply the sunscreen on your hands and then rub it over the rest of your face and body. But in my opinion if you are going to go through that effort, why not just use a sunscreen lotion?

I hope the above answers any general question you may have on sunscreen and sunscreen application. Oh and after trying our sunblock, my girlfriend decided to stop using spray sunscreens all together!

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