Spray on Sunscreen

Last Modified: July 1, 2010


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Does the spray on sunscreen work as well as a lotion?


Christopher Miller, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

There are currently many formulations of sunscreen, such as sprays and lotions. The completeness of application is more important then whether you use a spray or a lotion. Multiple studies have shown that most people underapply sunscreen. To get the full effect, sunscreen needs to be applied liberally. If you use sunscreen lotion to cover exposed skin while wearing a bathing suit, for example, you should apply a full ounce (a shot glass worth) of sunscreen. Most sunscreen bottles contain only 4 or 8 ounces. Therefore, when used properly, we would get only 4-8 applications per sunscreen bottle.

I am not aware of a guideline or measure to direct consumers in the application of spray-on sunscreen. As a result, there is probably wide variation in the way we apply spray-on sunscreen. In general, be sure to massage the spray evenly across your skin and reapply at least every 2 hours, especially if you are active or sweating.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series: Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention Webchat. View the entire transcript on Sun Safety.

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