Spray Sunscreen vs Regular Lotion Sunscreen

spray sunscreen vs regular lotion sunscreen

Spray sunscreen vs regular lotion sunscreen is an age old questions! Sunscreen is an essential component of a healthy skincare routine, especially for people living in areas with high levels of sun exposure. When it comes to sunscreen, there are two popular options: spray sunscreen and regular lotion. In this article, we will discuss the efficacy of both types of sunscreen and compare their environmental impact.

Spray Sunscreen vs Regular Lotion Sunscreen

Spray sunscreen is a convenient option for those who want a quick and easy application. It is easy to apply and dries quickly. On the other hand, regular lotion sunscreen takes more time to apply and can leave a white residue on the skin if not applied properly.

In terms of efficacy, both types of sunscreen are equally effective if applied correctly. According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology, “Spray and lotion sunscreens are equally effective when used appropriately, with similar degrees of sunburn protection.” However, the study also noted that people tend to use less spray sunscreen than lotion sunscreen, which may result in inadequate protection.

Environmental Impact

Both spray and regular lotion sunscreens have an impact on the environment, but spray sunscreen may have a greater impact. When spray sunscreen is applied, some of the product can be inhaled, which can be harmful to both humans and marine life. Additionally, spray sunscreen can be carried by the wind and land on surfaces, potentially harming plants and animals. 

Spray sunscreen can also make surfaces dangerously slippery and stain them. That is why many commercial boats prohibit use of spray sunscreen, in addition to the potential for harm to marine life by overspray.  When applying spray sunscreen, try to find somewhere outside but out of the wind where you can apply with minimum overspray. 

Regular lotion sunscreen also has an impact on the environment, but it is less likely to be inhaled or carried by the wind. However, some chemicals in sunscreen, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been shown to harm coral reefs. Hawaii and Key West have banned the sale of sunscreens containing these chemicals to protect their coral reefs.

When choosing a sunscreen, it is important to consider its environmental impact. Look for sunscreens that are labeled “reef-safe” and do not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. 


Spray sunscreen and regular lotion sunscreen are equally effective in protecting the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. However, spray sunscreen may have a greater impact on the environment, particularly on marine life; it can also stain surfaces and make them slippery. When choosing a sunscreen, consider its environmental impact and choose a reef-safe option. If you have non-reef-safe sunscreen, save that for the pool. 

Want to read more? Check out this article on what it takes to be a lifeguard!

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