Spray sunscreen dangers: What you need to know about sunscreen protection

The world’s temperature has been getting hotter. While the positive results of using sunscreen may be helping more people evade the real, more intense dangers posed by UV radiation, it cannot be denied that more people are succumbing to skin cancers. In fact it is now the leading type of cancer in the US, and more throughout the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has further warned that 300,000 more people will be diagnosed with skin cancers for every additional 10 per cent of the ozone getting depleted.

The Brave New World

Will sunscreen be enough? Sunscreens will never give you absolute protection from UV. Other than that insufficiency, there are a host of other problems plaguing sunscreens, the best acknowledged one being the toxic contents of sunscreens. While helping you avoid skin cancers and UV damage, a whitening sunscreen and spray sunscreens carry their own risks too.

Spray-on sunscreens have garnered popularity in recent years for the ease of application and reapplication, even when you have makeup on. Little did the public know that the convenience that came with spray sunscreens came with a premium price — your own health and well-being. Listed below are the unique dangers posed by spray sunscreens:

1. Spray sunscreens contain very minute forms of toxic sunscreen ingredients. While topical sunscreen safety takes into consideration the ability of the formula to penetrate your skin, a spray on sunscreen releases these tiny toxins into the air and finds its way straight to your lungs.

The particles in question, would you believe, are the two mineral sunscreen ingredients that have been lauded for offering safer sunscreen protection — Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. These two ingredients, when used as spray sunscreens, can compromise your lungs. No less than the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recognized the dangers of Titanium Dioxide which, it says, “causes varying degrees of inflammation and associated pulmonary effects including lung epithelial cell injury, cholesterol granulomas and fibrosis”. The IARC further concluded that more severe side effects can be expected when exposed to finer particles of Titanium Dioxide.

Other than mineral sunscreens, other potentially toxic ingredients in every can of spray sunscreen can pose more intense risks to your health as well when released into the air and inhaled.

2. Spray sunscreens are highly flammable. You don’t want to catch fire, of course, when the only thing that you want to do is to give your skin ample coverage from both sunburn and deeper skin damage. Flaming skin is the least of the results of using sunscreen that you can expect.

3. Spray suncreens require multiple coats. While you may be drawn to spray sunscreens because of the convenience they bring, you probably never heard from advertisements what skin experts have always known about spray sunscreens, that is, you need at least 3 coats to make sure that you are sufficiently protected from UV. That makes 1 can of spray sunscreen not enough to last you even for just an entire day of outdoor affair.

4. Spray sunscreens are difficult to even out. That’s because its minute particles keep getting blown away by the wind in all directions. An even nastier thought is that you get patchy sunburns all over your face and body when you darken as a result of sun exposure. Just when you think that a whitening sunscreen could be a better option, think again, because it poses other risks to your skin and overall health.

What Do Authorities Say?

It is by now, common knowledge that sunscreens can be among the most dangerous products that you can ever get in contact with your skin. The toxins result to both immediate and long-term detrimental effects to your skin, health, and well-being.

Speaking exclusively on the potential detrimental results of using sunscreen in spray formulations, the US Food and Drug Administration announced in 2011 that it was investigating the safety and potential side effects of spray sunscreens. In early 2016, the agency issued a public warning that spray sunscreens must never be used on children.

In fact, labels on spray sunscreens often contain warnings you do not normally see in topical products, not even in equally risky whitening sunscreen. Some of these read as follows:

• “Avoid inhaling or exposing others to spray.”

• “Do not spray directly into face.”

• “If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Center right away.”

Here are two contradictory labels:

• “Use in a well-ventilated area.”

• “Do not apply in windy conditions.”


Protection over anything else — That is your top but, not the only consideration when sunscreens are in the hot seat. Sunscreens are a perfect example that product safety should always factor into your selection criteria. Skipping the labels is never an option.

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