Dr. Chitra Dinakar, a pediatrician for Children’s Mercy, explains:
These sprays might have some chemicals that have not been studied. The concern is that my patient with asthma or allergies can have an asthma attack or just trigger an allergy attack.
She recommends using lotions if possible. She says:
If you really have to use a spray, maybe the sensible way is to spray it on your palm and then rub it on the child.
There is also concern over some ingredients used that have been shown to cause development issues in animals.
Consumer reports removed one sunscreen spray – Ocean Potions Kids Instant Dry Mist from their well-regarded safe list because it is marketed especially for children. They explain their decision on their website:
Of particular concern to us is the possibility that people might accidentally breathe in the ingredients, a risk that’s greatest in children, who- as any parent knows – are more likely to squirm around when they’re being sprayed.
They also offer the following tips:
Don’t use sprays on children, unless you have no other product available. In that case, spray the sunscreen onto your hands and rub it on. As with all sunscreens, be especially careful on the face, taking care to avoid the eyes and mouth.
Adults can still use sprays-but don’t spray your face! Instead, spray on your hands and rub it on, making sure to avoid your eyes and mouth. And try to avoid inhaling it.
Make sure you apply enough. Our tests have found that sprays can work well when used properly-but it is harder to make sure that you apply enough, especially when it’s windy. We recommend spraying as much as can be evenly applied, and then repeating, just to be safe. On windy days, you might want to spray the sunscreen on your hands and rub it on-or just choose one of our recommended lotions instead.