In 2011, Food and Drug Administration officials announced that they would investigate the safety of spray-on sunscreens, however, their study is not yet complete, nor have they issued any kind of recommendation. However, Consumer Reports recently issued their own warning, advising parents not to use these products on children.
People love the convenience of a spray-on product; it takes just minutes to apply, and it’s easier to rub in than thick lotion. But the Consumer Reports warning states that until the FDA has completed their analysis, these products should not be used on or by kids. Additionally, editors removed a sunscreen spray, Ocean Potion Kids Instant Dry Mist SPF 50, from the magazine’s list of recommended sunscreens because the product is marketed especially for children.
The anticipated FDA analysis is to determine whether titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and other chemicals used in sunscreens are more harmful in a spray form, since they are more likely to be inhaled. These chemicals have nanoparticles, known for causing developmental problems in animals. Lotion and stick forms of sunscreens have a more controllable application than spray formulas.
The American Academy of Dermatology also warns against the sprays, noting that it’s more difficult to tell whether you’ve used enough sunscreen to offer protection against sunburn. If you continue to use spray variations, their recommendation is to spray the product onto your hands first, then spread the lotion over any exposed areas; never spray around your face, nose, eyes, or mouth.