Seven Easy Sun Safe Tips!

Beach photo

In September of 2009 when I was diagnosed with melanoma, Daniel and I met with a sun safety educator after my first doctor visit. I’ve lived in sun safety land for a long time, but this weekend when I was speaking with a group of girl scouts I was reminded that not everyone has the privilege of meeting personally with a sun safety educator. So, here is a quick reminder of the basics of sunscreen that I teach when I am asked to speak to groups.

  1. Make sure it’s labelled “broad-spectrum” and at minimum SPF 30
  2. Read the directions!
  3. Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure
  4. Use a lot, don’t miss a spot! Don’t forget the scalp, ears, neck and lips!
  5. Sprays- Spray until you see it, then rub it in
  6. Cover with clothing whenever possible! (Especially UPF clothing)
  7. Don’t forget broad rimmed hats and sunscreen 1397004_10152042693775809_602037830_o 1604832_10152287278270809_2077659736_n

Sunscreen Spray Dangers

sunscreen spray

Well, duh…

“You should never apply a product labeled as flammable while you are near a source of flame. In the five incidents reported to FDA, however, the burns occurred after the sunscreen spray had been applied. The ignition sources were varied and involved lighting a cigarette, standing too close to a lit citronella candle, approaching a grill, and in one case, doing some welding. These incidents suggest that there is a possibility of catching fire if you are near an open flame or a spark after spraying on a flammable sunscreen—even if you believe you have waited a sufficient time for the sunscreen to dry and your skin feels dry.”

Read the full FDA report here.

In the news this week…

“For sunscreen spray products, the agency requested additional data to establish effectiveness and to determine whether they present a safety concern if inhaled unintentionally.  These requests arose because sprays are applied differently from other sunscreen dosage forms, such as lotions and sticks.”

I’m not sure why this was  in the news cycle this week as the FDA inquiry was published in May 2012, but I addressed my concerns about sunscreen spray here. The FDA article is here.

Perhaps we should avoid these products? I have used sunscreen spray a few times in the past couple months and I feel flammable for hours afterward and can’t get the alcohol smell out of my nose! Yuck!

I do think the lotion forms of sunscreen spray seem to avoid most of these issues. And in ANY case, any sunscreen is better than none. Don’t forget to read the directions and wait 15 minutes after application to give the sunscreen time to work! It also helps to spray until you see your skin is wet, rub it in and then reapply and rub again! If you are taking the time to apply, take the time to make it work for you!

FAQ 1: Spray sunscreen

What spray sunscreen do you recommend for kids/sensitive skin?

I get asked this a lot. I understand the draw of spray sunscreens. They are SO quick and easy! But, I can’t recommend any spray sunscreens. To be clear, I am meaning spray sunscreens in an aerosol or compressed air form, not the sunscreen with a pump spray.

Almost all spray sunscreens are chemical based. I am very concerned about the long term effects of chemicals that may be inhaled while spray sunscreens are applied, especially for children who may not be able to hold their breath as reliably as we would like to believe. My 8 year old son told me last week that he’d been holding his breath for 15 minutes (he wrote me a note to tell me.) I told him to plug his nose and he lasted about 4 seconds. He genuinely thought he was holding his breath before. It made me reconsider just asking him to hold his breath when spraying him with sunscreen!

I wouldn’t recommend sprays for sensitive skin. Almost all contain denatured alcohol which is horrible for skin! Drying and irritating.

Sprays are also infamous for not providing compete coverage. The chemical forms that go on clear are extremely difficult to check coverage.

So, I still haven’t talked you out of using a spray sunscreen? That’s alright! I won’t judge you if I see you spraying your kids down at the pool or the park! I know sprays are easy. ANY sunscreen is better than NO sunscreen! May I offer a few tips about applying that spray?

1. READ and FOLLOW the directions on the bottle. Chemical sunscreens need to sit on the skin for 20-30 minutes before the sunscreen begins working!

2. Spray until you can see the sunscreen on the skin. This is the only way to make sure it hasn’t all blown away in the wind!

3. RUB it in. ALL sunscreens need to be rubbed in!

I did try an all natural spray sunscreen by this month. The acgardengoddess spraytive ingredients (as in all mineral sunscreens) are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. If you try it make sure you shake it and it should spray white. The first three times I sprayed this on my screen, it came out clear. I don’t believe I got any protection during any of these applications. Yikes! After shaking it comes out super thick and is tough to rub in. I didn’t like it  much, but if you really want to try a spray, I’d recommend Goddess Garden Continuous Spray SPF 30.

Not an ad. I purchased this product on my own dime. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy with the link, I get a very small percentage of what you pay to help offset my review costs. I only review sunscreens which I would use on my family and myself based on basic requirements such as broad spectrum and a minimum SPF of 30.