Plenty of spray sunscreens that are both safe and effective exist on the market right now. Here’s the thing about spray sunscreen, though—it’s all in the application. “According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one should hold the nozzle close to the skin and spray generously,” says Gohara. “Spray until the skin glistens.”
Gohara notes that one container of spray sunscreen should last about six applications, so if your spray bottle is lasting you a really long time, you may be applying too little. Gohara also says you should rub your spray sunscreen in thoroughly to make sure you don’t miss any spots. Always avoid inhaling, applying in heavy winds, or applying near smoke or flames. Be sure to reapply regularly—that means at least every two hours.
If you want to really ensure protection, Huffstetler has a pro tip. “Layering is caring,” he says. “Especially helpful with kids and on the go. I like to start with a base layer of lotion, and then dedicate my spray to reapplication throughout the day.” This is also a good way to treat face sunscreens—it’s best to start with a lotion base and refresh with spray throughout the day, particularly if you’re wearing makeup. See below for our absolute favorite spray sunscreens (that really work!).