This Is The Big Problem With Aerosol Spray Sunscreens

By now, we know how important sunscreen is to our everyday lives. Sunscreen needs to be applied daily, as it's the best way we can work to prevent melanoma caused by overexposure to UV rays. According to Cancer Research, 86% of melanoma skin cancer diagnoses were due to exposure. Using sunscreen reduces your risk of melanoma by 40%. That is why sunscreen is so important to use, even on a cloudy day when you're still at risk of UV rays (via Refinery 29).

Because of the importance of sunscreen, people often look for the easiest way to get sun protection before heading out. That's why aerosol spray sunscreens are a popular choice, as they offer a quick and less messy application. Spray sunscreens are some of the most common types of sunscreen and can be found almost everywhere. However, aerosol sunscreens may not be your best bet leaving you to want to reach for a different formula.

The risks of aerosol sunscreen

Part of the problem with spray sunscreens is what is the spray aspect. According to Nneka Leiba, the vice president of healthy living science at the Environmental Working Group, spray sunscreens can release tiny particles that can get deep into the lungs. These particles can cause permanent damage because they're toxic. Despite if the sunscreen is clean and mineral-free, the titanium dioxide that composes sprays is enough to deem a "clean" spray sunscreen dangerous. Due to its danger, titanium dioxide is said to be a possible carcinogen inhaled, even if it's safe for the skin (via Goop).

Another reason spray sunscreens are not the best at sun protection is the lack of coverage. According to Colorescience, unless you're rubbing in your spray sunscreen afterward, you are missing sections of your skin during application. That leaves you with patchy sunscreen that not only might give you an odd sunburn but puts you at risk for overexposure to UV rays. If you're applying spray sunscreen on a windy day, you're missing spots and putting those around you at risk of inhaling the particles.

What you probably didn't know about spray sunscreens

Although spray sunscreen still is more convenient despite all of its potential risks, there are a few more warnings about them that are relatively unknown. Due to the spray aspect, this type of sunscreen might also be more harmful than protective. Spray sunscreens most likely contain flammable ingredients that could end up being the source of more burns on your skin. Like other flammable products, you shouldn't apply spray sunscreens if you are near a heat source or open flame. Even after application, you should steer clear of any open flame as it can still cause a burn. According to the U.S. FDA, there have been reported incidents where people have applied a spray sunscreen near an open flame which left significant burns (via Healthy Women).

Besides the inherent risks spray sunscreens have towards humans, they are also very dangerous to the environment. According to EcoWatch, these sunscreens pose a threat to coral reefs. Most of the chemicals in sunscreens tend to be harmful to the environment, even if the sunscreen is labeled reef-safe. When applying spray sunscreens, there is the probability you are spraying outside of the skin, and these chemicals can reach these parts of the ecosystem a lot quicker. Even when applying carefully, it's recommended to rub it in and let it absorb into your skin before heading into the water, limiting the amount that can transfer to the ecosystem.