When it comes to sunscreen, you have many different formulas, brands, and types to choose from. With so many options, it's easy to find the one that inspires you to use it every day. Still, it can take time and consideration to find your perfect match (or matches).

Two of the most popular types of sunscreen are lotions and sprays. If you're debating which type of sunscreen to incorporate into your daily routine, you've come to the right place. Read on to learn about sunscreen spray vs. lotion, including their differences, similarities, and advantages.

Sunscreen Spray vs. Lotion

Aptly named, sunscreen spray is a sun protection formula that comes in a spray bottle, making application different than with a lotion. Instead of pumping out sunscreen onto your hand and lathering it all over your face and body like you would with a lotion, the sunscreen sprays out onto your skin, much like hairspray or dry shampoo.

Sunscreen spray goes on lighter than a lotion, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's less effective—it really depends on how you use it. In fact, sunscreen spray has the same formulation as sunscreen lotion. The true difference between a sunscreen spray vs. lotion is how you apply them to your body.

Woman Spraying EltaMD UV Aox Mist Onto Her Hand

How Do You Use Sunscreen Spray?

Using sunscreen spray is simple, but there are some best practices to be aware of. Spritz the product by holding the nozzle close to your body to ensure it lands on your skin. Then, move the spray across your body to cover all areas of exposed skin. Finally, rub any residue into your skin so it absorbs properly. If you're wary of spraying sunscreen directly on your face, spritz it into your hands first and gently rub it onto your face.

Whether you're using sunscreen spray or lotion, apply sunscreen every day at least 30 minutes before you go outside, and reapply every two hours (even if you're wearing makeup!). The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests one ounce of sunscreen for your entire body, including frequently missed areas like your nose and eyelids.

Is Lotion or Spray Sunscreen Better?

When it comes to sunscreen spray vs. lotion, no product is better or more effective than the other. You'll get the sun protection you need with both types of sunscreen as long as you apply them correctly. Use the sunscreen that works best for your lifestyle. For example, sunscreen sprays tend to be more lightweight and less messy to use, and they can cover those hard-to-reach areas when you're in a pinch.

Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen every day is your best defense against the sun's skin-damaging ultraviolet rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, wearing sunscreen as directed decreases your risk of squamous cell carcinoma, the second-most common form of skin cancer, by about 40 percent, and lowers your risk of melanoma by 50 percent. The better sunscreen is the one that makes it easy to maintain healthy skin that shines from within.


  • Audrey Noble

    Audrey Noble is a New York City-based reporter specializing in features, celebrity profiles, and beauty topics. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. She is a University of Southern California alumna with bachelor's degrees in print journalism and creative writing.