Sunscreen is sunscreen – or so we thought.
Choosing between liquid or cream sunscreen can impact how likely you’ll use it, the amount of coverage, and the protection you get. Here’s the lowdown on which sunscreen is better for you.
1. Spray sunscreens are more convenient, but dermatologists say there are drawbacks from using them
Everyone knows putting on sunscreen is important to preserve your skin health, but that’s never enough to make everyone put it on. When asked by a group of researchers, people say they didn’t use sunscreen because it made them feel greasy, takes too much time to apply, or just simply forgot. They also said they’d be more likely to use sunscreen if it were in spray form.
While the liquid sunscreens are far easier to put on, the US FDA advises the following cautionary measures when using spray sunscreens:
- Avoid spraying on the face as there are health risks from inhaling the fumes by accident
- Sprays can be a fire hazard. Don’t spray them near an open flame.
Cream sunscreens are generally safer and will give your skin the extra boost of moisture it needs on a hot sunny day.
2. Cream sunscreens cost a bit cheaper, but it’s not all about the price tag
Sunscreens vary across brands, and across SPF strengths, so it could be quite hard to compare them head-to-head price-wise. Taking the price tag at face value won’t give you a considerable dollar difference, but if you take in the factor of how you use cream sunscreens versus its liquid counterpart, the game changes. How much sunscreen do you apply?
The rule of thumb is a shot glass full of cream sunscreen for your whole body with your swimmies on. But most of us only put on roughly less than a half. Two seconds of spray also doesn’t properly cover your whole body, so you’ll likely need to put on more. The price difference between these sunscreen variants isn’t black and white.
Cream sunscreens may appear cheaper on a shelf, but the coin you shell out doesn’t necessarily translate to a cost per application or the total cost for the amount of protection you get.
3. Cream sunscreens give you more solid protection because you can actually measure it
A sunscreen’s efficacy is based on its SPF content. The FDA advises at least SPF 15. Some people swear by the higher SPFs, but is there really considerable additional benefit across the board? Here’s a breakdown:
- SPF 15: allows 7% of UVB rays through skin
- SPF 30: allows 4% of UVB rays though skin
- SPF 60: allows 2% of UVB rays through skin
However, the only way you can get the actual SPF as claimed on the bottle is to actually apply the recommended amount. A lot of us don’t. If you’re wearing only half of the shot glass of an SPF 30 sunscreen, then you’re just getting the sun protection of SPF 15. Spray sunscreens cannot be measured like this as the only guideline to knowing you’ve put on enough is that there’s a visible even sheen on your skin.
Bottomline: The Better Sunscreen Is The One You’ll Use Consistently
No matter which type of sunscreen you choose, be sure to pick one that you won’t mind using every day.
Read the full detailed showdown between sunscreens by Life Hacker here.