Don’t be caught empty-handed before your next beach trip.
How many times have you been stocking up on all the necessities for your next beach trip or tropical getaway, and found yourself wondering if you should go with a lotion or spray sunscreen?
While lotions seem to be the safest bet—the infamous white cast allows you to see where you’ve already slathered it, so you don’t miss a spot—sunscreen sprays are preferred by many because they’re easy to apply, are less messy than creams, and help cover those hard-to-reach places, like your back.
The downside? While most of us want to believe we know how to apply sunscreen correctly, more of the product often ends up in the air than on our skin. This sub-par application can increase your risk of sunburn and exposure to ultraviolet radiation, explains Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
In order for these sprays to be effective, you have to make sure you’re picking the best ones and using them properly. Choose sunscreen sprays labeled ‘broad spectrum,’ which shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, and select those with high SPF levels (at least SPF 30), Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Health.
Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, also recommends looking for options that are more water-resistant (80 minutes of water resistance is better than 40, for example), and contain zinc oxide. And you may have seen the dual sunscreen and bug spray products that promise to minimize packing on hiking or camping trips by offering a two-in-one spray—but Dr. Jaliman actually recommends against these because the combination can decrease the effectiveness of sunscreen by 40%. Yikes.
It’s also important to consider how you’re applying sunscreen. Dr. Zeichner advises holding the can or bottle one inch from your skin and spraying until it glistens. As for your face, spray sunscreen into your hand first and then gently rub it over your face and ears (this will reduce your risk of inhalation of any gases or propellants), he adds.
Ready for the best sunscreen sprays that dermatologists can’t get enough of? Here, nine options that will protect you—and give you peace of mind—during your next outdoor adventure.