Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Spray-On Sunblock: Chemicals in the Mist

I know I'm a bit late with this message, since summer is winding down, but I want to take a minute to discuss something that has been on my mind for a long time - spray-on sunblock applied in public places.  I'm sure, given the proliferation of spray-on sunblock consumers, that people think this stuff is a great idea, since you don't have to spend time rubbing sunblock on your children.  However, to me, there is something very disturbing about spraying a chemical fog all around your child.  I see those poor kids, holding their noses and squinting their eyes as tight as they can, and puffing out their cheeks, as they hold their breath, while being sprayed.  As soon as the spraying is done, what do they kids do?  They gasp and take in a huge deep breath of chemicals.  Have a look at a popular spray sunblock's ingredient list.
Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone, SD Alcohol 40, Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Fragrance, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Mineral Oil.
Sure, there are some "natural" ingredients in there, but the first 4 ingredients are sunblocks and not intended for inhalation.  

The instructions on most bottles say to hold it 4-6 inches away from the skin and spray liberally.  For the
face, they suggest spraying it on one hand and rubbing it onto the face.  Aside from my concern for all the children being sprayed, directly, my most immediate concern is my daughter's asthmatic lungs being suddenly bombarded from all angles, as people pop up spraying their children left and right, when we walk near the lockers, or areas where people get ready to swim.  It's like walking through a mine field.  You're just walking along and suddenly *PSSSHHH* there is this huge cloud in your face and it's hard to avoid.  We try to walk briskly out of the cloud and then *PSSSHHH* another person is spraying.

Nobody wants to dress like this to go to the water park
Image Credit: NBC News
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), that puts out the yearly Guide to Sunscreens, recommends skipping spray-on sunblocks, all together.  In their piece, "What Not to Bring on Vacation," they have "No Spray Sunscreens" as #1 on their list!
1) No Spray Sunscreens
Given the ease of applying them on squirming kids and hard-to-reach areas, these super-popular aerosolized sunscreens may seem like a dream come true. But there’s growing concern that these sprays pose serious inhalation risks. They also make it too easy to apply too little or to miss a spot, leaving bare skin exposed to harmful rays.
Even though the Food and Drug Administration expressed concern in 2011 about the safety and efficacy of spray sunscreens, companies continue to turn them out.
So, I ask you to consider reevaluating your choice of sunscreen, for your own health, the health of your children, and for those around you.  We want everyone to breathe easy, while having fun in the sun!
Image Credit: Mother Nature Network
(For those looking to minimize the use of any type of sunscreen, check out my post on UPF clothing.)


  1. Great article. Not that it makes it any better but I hold a hat or towel over their face when I spray specifically for this reason. We don't use spray air freshener either. It just seems wrong to spray those chemicals into our air.

    1. Thanks - at least your kiddos have some filtering going on!

      Yes, it always boggles my mind when I see automatic fragrance dispensers/air fresheners at allergists' offices! Are they trying to create more patients? ;)