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Spray-on sunscreen is quite convenient but inhaling its questionable chemicals is a health risk. The chemicals used in rub-in sunscreen for years and years are still not yet fully understood, so why inhale them? Furthermore, spray-on sunscreens also make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot, thus leaving bare skin exposed to harmful UV rays.
According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), the two major types of sunscreen available in the U.S. are "chemical" and "mineral" sunscreens. “Chemical” sunscreens are more common, and its active ingredients such as PABA or PARSOL 1789 and oxybenzone penetrate into the bloodstream and mimic the body’s natural hormones and may confuse the body's Endochrine system, which regulates our mood, growth and development, metabolism, and reproductive processes.
"Mineral" sunscreens are considered somewhat safer, as their active ingredients are from natural elements such as zinc or titanium. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide strong sun protection with few health concerns, and don't break down in the sun. Thus, EWG recommends to sticking with "mineral" sunscreens while taking other precautions such as looking for shade, wearing protective clothing and eyewear, and avoiding the noontime sun.
EWG recommends avoiding spray-on sunscreens entirely. "These ingredients are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs." Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens, which are greatest among children.
Here a few examples of sunscreens recommended by the EWG:
Click here to see the complete list of sunscreens that meet EWG's criteria.