Sun Tanning Questions

Sunscreen Lotion or Spray – Which One is Better?

Written by: Anastasija

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Nowadays, there are so many different sunscreen options available on the market, which can make it difficult to choose the one that works best for you. If you’re debating between a sunscreen lotion or a spray, here is what you should know about both of them.

What is a sunscreen lotion?

To begin with, it’s important that we address what a lotion actually is, before we jump into any conclusions about it being wither better or worse than a spray. You may be surprised by the number of people who don’t actually know the difference, so you can read through this if you’re unsure, of skip ahead if you are already confident in understanding the definition.

Firstly, sunscreen lotions tend to come in a slightly thicker, but still liquid consistency, somewhat like a body lotion or similar product, and can range from being quite runny, to quite solid. Of course, this all depends on which one you buy, and what ingredients it contains, but it can also have a lot to do with the additional benefits you’re going to get from the sunscreen (such as hydration, for example).

suncreen application Anastasija Thirsty for tan

For most of the time, a sunscreen lotion is also a whitish, creamy colour, a little off from pure white, and it will look like this when you apply it until you’ve rubbed it in completely, when it will appear completely clear, which is useful in making sure you’ve rubbed it in properly in order to get full protection, but also to show you where you have or haven’t already put some.

Sunscreen lotions tend to come in either a pot, which is usually only the case when it’s a face sunscreen, or more commonly in a plastic tube with a flip cap at the end to prevent any leaks.

Also read:
7 Things A Sunscreen Does to Your Skin (Explained)
How Do You Get Suntan Lotion Out Of Clothes? (3 Methods)

What is a sunscreen spray?

On the other hand, you’ve also got your sunscreen spray as a contender for your next purchase, so it’s only fair to find out a little bit more about it. Once again, however, if you don’t really think you need this information, you can always skip to the next part, to determine which will be your new holy grail! But here is a brief insight to the world of sunscreen sprays.

sunscreen spray by Anastasija Thirsty for tan

The first, and most obvious, difference between a sunscreen spray and lotion is that a sunscreen spray has a very different consistency, as you can probably imagine. Because the product is sprayed from a can, or spray mechanism, it requires the liquid to be thinner, making it easier to spray, so these products are usually more fluid, and they’re more comparable to something like water.

When you use a spray sunscreen, it can be either completely clear when sprayed from the bottle, or it can be the same colour as a sunscreen lotion, with that slightly off-white tinge. Both of these are very common, and they just depend on what ingredients, usually the UV filters, that they contain. For example, ones which contain zinc oxide will be a creamy colour, as the zinc oxide is known from its white colouring, which it will leave in your sunscreen, too.

As mentioned, a sunscreen spray does come in either an aerosol-like can or a regular spray bottle, and this works to disperse your product evenly all over your body. Often, people find that spray sunscreens are more convenient, as they’re quicker to apply and generally they create much less mess than lotions. ‘Sports’ sunscreens also come in spray formulas, too, for this very reason.

Also read: What SPF Sunscreen Should You Wear to Exercise Outside? (Explained)

Are there any other alternatives?

If you’ve been reading so far, you may be thinking to yourself: but aren’t there other sunscreen options out there, aside from sprays and lotions? And, if this is you, you’re completely correct – there are different types of sunscreens beyond the sprays and lotions, and there’ll probably be even more in the future. Nevertheless, if you want to find put a bit about these, here is the information.

Another one of the most popular choices is a sunblock, which comes in a solid, waxy stick-like form, and it is somewhat like one of the roll-on deodorants that come ibn a solid rather than liquid. This is usually very popular, especially for kids and on the face, as it is often thicker when applied, and this reduces the danger of not applying enough which can lead to sunburn – a very frustrating outcome.

SPF protection in the form of a lip balm, in order to protect your lips in the Sun, is another popular choice, but this is obviously only used on the lips and not other areas of the face. Nevertheless, it is worth considering as the skin on your lips is much thinner than that of your skin, as it has many less layers. People often overlook it, but sunburn on your lips is what causes them to chap in the Sun, which can be very uncomfortable, so prevent this situation with a protective balm.

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Although they have gradually become less and less popular as more people have been educated about the dangers of exposing unprotected skin to the Sun, tanning oils are another product which some people still like to use, and they’re very different to other sunscreens. Firstly, tanning oils come in the form of a, usually clear, greasy liquid, which is rubbed all over the body and generally has a lower SPF. These oils, as the name suggests, are designed to wan courage your skin to tan, which is a very controversial topic, but we’ll talk about that later.

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Which is the best option to use on my body?

So, you now know a little bit of information about each of the different main methods used to protect your skin when it’s exposed to the Sun, and you may already be able to pick up on some of the positive or negative aspects of some of them, but you may still be wondering which is best to use on a hot summer’s day. The truth is that, unfortunately, not all sunscreen products are created equally, so you do need to be a little savvy at time regarding the formula you choose. Don’t fear, though, as you’re about to find out exactly that!

Firstly, we can start by outlining the least protective product for your body, and that is a tanning oil, or any other ‘protective’ product which has a low SPF or is marketed for its ability to help you tan. This is because, as you may have picked up on, these products, while they may claim to protect you as well, have their main focus on you achieving your glow, and sun-tanning is a form of skin damage due to the Sun, so this is a sign that your body isn’t well-protected.

sun protection by Anastasija thirsty for tan


As well as tanning oils, there are other similar products which have the same essential flaw when they’re put into their practical use, so it’s always good to do a double check of anything that may seem a little too good to be true. If something makes you tan, or it’s even a self-tanner which has SPF built in, it’s probably not the best option for you, but there are others you can choose from, or you could always use a separate self-tanner to your sunscreen.

When you’re deciding which product is best for you, there are a few factors which may come into the mix, but the protection level and general efficacy should be your main concern, and this would trump any other expectations of requirements you may have – these should just be seen as ‘bonuses’.

Overall, sunscreen lotions are usually the best option for most people, as they are the most effective, and they generally are more common and tend to accommodate the best formulas available out there. Not to mention, they also often come with a variety of different properties that can aid your skin, such as hydration, and you can be sure to find one with a high level of SPF.

In terms of application, this is an area where many people can go wrong, and the incorrect application of your sunscreen can compromise its performance. With a sunscreen that comes in a lotion formula, there is a lower risk of you missing areas, as this is more obvious than with other types you may use, and there is a much lower danger of you not applying it thick enough. So, one of the strongest points for a sunscreen lotion is probably the fact that it’s the safest way for everyone to stay protected, even if you aren’t a professional, or you don’t know much about the product.

On the other hand, this isn’t to say that spray sunscreens and other alternative products aren’t good, but they don’t usually meet the same standards in general. But remember, if you are concerned, worried or anxious about the type of sunscreen you should be using, you can always speak to a dermatologist, skin care specialist or medical professional for personal, tailored advice specifically for you!

Sunscreen Lotion or Spray – Which One is Better pin by thirstyfortan

Final thoughts

In the end, it’s good to know and be aware of the various different types of sunscreen as well as what they do or how they come, but arguably the most important information is actually the concern for their safety, and it’s all about how safe or potentially unsafe they are in the environment you should be using them in. Hopefully, you have learnt something new after reading this, and you should now have a much better idea about the safety of the products you’re suing, and maybe this has even solved your problem of which sunscreen to buy at your next visit to the shops!

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

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