The 16 Best Spray Sunscreens for Face and Body in 2024

From kid-friendly mists to SPF-packed setting sprays.

Unrecognizable woman applying suntan lotion with a spray bottle while spending summer day at the pool.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I could write a dissertation about the best sunscreen products in my sleep. SPF is my holy grail, my can’t-live-without, my must-have. I’ve tried dozens upon dozens of formulas through the years, and I’m confident that there’s nothing as quick, easy, and convenient to apply as one of the best spray sunscreens. Because whether I need to reapply sunscreen over makeup or want a non-sticky full body mist to use on the beach, a super-fine SPF spray is always going to be my MVP. 

The convenience can’t be beat, and while a spray can be just as effective as a cream sunscreen formula, it’s important to take a little extra caution during application to avoid bizarre tanning patterns (been there, done that, not cute) or sunburn. The recipe for success? Hold the bottle no more than six inches away from your body and thoroughly rub everything into the skin. As for the face? Start off with a cream formula (mineral or chemical will do) and reach for a facial-friendly spray SPF for reapplication. 

To get a crash course in all things spray sunscreen, I strongly encourage you to keep reading. Not only have I rounded up some of my personal favorite products, but I also tapped board-certified dermatologists Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky and Dr. Hadley King to get their top application and safety tips. From fine mists with a barely-there feel to makeup setting sprays loaded with SPF, here’s a definitive guide to the best spray sunscreens. 

Is Spray Sunscreen Safe?

You may remember back in 2022 when Johnson & Johnson recalled some of its sunscreens after finding low amounts of benzene in some samples. What is benzene, you may ask? According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King, benzene is a known carcinogen found in a number of aerosol sunscreens. Now, before you ditch spray sunscreens for good, Dr. King says that investigations have often focused on the effects of benzene after it's been ingested or inhaled, not through our skin. "We still don't know how effectively benzene penetrates through the skin, or how the benzene behaves after skin penetration," she explains. Dr. King does say that inhaling benzene can be harmful to the lungs, adding, "It has been hypothesized that benzene contamination may come from isobutane, a spray propellant used in aerosol mechanisms." So, if you want to reduce the risk of benzene contamination and still want a spray sunscreen, Dr. King recommends using options that are non-aerosol and to be sure you don't inhale any product. 

Additionally, the EWG profiled more than the formulas and performance of 1,700 sunscreens and found just one in four met their standards. The study searched for chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and avobenzone. While these ingredients do provide UV protection, they may cause adverse effects such as skin allergies or hormone disruptions. Take into account, though, that all sunscreens are regulated by the FDA and must pass certain tests, and any sunscreen is better than going without—and Dr. King would agree. She explains: "Avoiding an effective preventive measure such as sunscreen could prove more harmful than exposure to trace amounts of benzene, ultimately to be determined by the FDA. The same can be said of theoretical risks of some chemical sunscreen ingredients." Of course, if you have any allergies and particular concerns, consult with your doctor before using a new sunscreen. 

Overview

The Best Body Sunscreen Sprays

“When using sunscreen, I recommend applying at least one ounce of sunscreen to the entire body—this is the equivalent of a shot glass,” explains Dr. Zubritsky. “This can be hard to determine using a spray-on sunscreen, so a good rule of thumb is to apply the spray until the skin glistens.” You’ll want to keep the bottle close to the skin (no more than a six inch distance) and rub the product in. 

For reference, a standard size bottle of spray sunscreen should last *only* six body applications. Let that sink in: one bottle is worth only six body applications. 

The Best Face Sunscreen Sprays

First things first: the face is sensitive, so it is going to be best to start off with a cream formula. That said, a spray can be used for reapplication—just make sure you’re using one of the best formulas. “Choose a spray sunscreen that is specifically made for the face to prevent clogging pores and acne breakouts,” explains Dr. Zubritsky. “Be sure to avoid getting any in your eyes and keep your mouth closed while spraying.”

The Best Makeup Setting Sprays With SPF

A setting spray packed with SPF is Dr. Zubritsky’s go-to for reapplication with makeup. Setting sprays easy as can be to apply over makeup and won’t mess up your foundation or cause your mascara to bleed. Just make sure you’re applying enough product to actually get the benefits on the bottle. Reminder: you want to “glisten.” If you’re more into a matte look, check out the best powder sunscreens

The Best Ultra-Fine Sunscreen Sprays

If you *despise* the sticky, greasy feeling of sunscreen, we have some good news: There are a handful of products that spew out SPF so fine, you barely feel it. They sink into the skin, dry down in seconds, and won’t leave your face or body with a damp or wet feel. 

What's The Difference Between Chemical and Mineral Sunscreens?

If you prefer spray sunscreens over other formulas, you'll have to decide whether to use chemical or mineral sunscreens, with each having their own pros and cons. Here, Dr. King breaks down the difference between the two formulas and gives her recommendations for each. 

  • Chemical sunscreens

"Chemical sunscreens are made up of chemicals that are absorbed into the skin, where they can absorb the UV rays and create a chemical reaction that changes the UV rays into heat and the heat is then released from the skin," explains Dr. King. These formulas typically contain a combination of oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and avobenzone, which come may have harmful side effects, as mentioned above. If you have a darker skin tone, you may want to opt for a chemical sunscreen as these formulas don't leave a harsh white cast. Dr. King recommends avoiding oxybenzone and octinoxate as there are other chemical ingredients that are reasonable alternatives. 

  • Mineral or physical sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens, a.k.a. physical sunscreens, contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and work by sitting on the skin's surface and reflecting the sun's UV rays. All in all, Dr. King recommends these formulas as they are less likely to irritate sensitive skin, are photostable (meaning they won't degrade if exposed to UV light), and have fewer concerns about absorption and safety. Additionally, she says, "Physical sunscreens are less likely to clog pores and irritate complexions, particularly for those with sensitive skin." However, physical sunscreens may leave behind a white cast, but Dr. King notes that the formulas of today "have come a long way from their chalky, white, hard-to-spread predecessors."  

Meet the Experts

Headshot of Lindsey Zubritsky, MD
Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, M.D.

Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in general medical dermatology, surgical dermatology, cosmetics, and pediatric dermatology. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she graduated summa cum laude from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA with a degree in Cell/Molecular Biology where she participated in collegiate soccer. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. 

She then completed her medical school training at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA where she graduated at the top of her class and was inducted into the esteemed Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. She completed a year of internal medicine training during her transitional year at Kettering Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. She then pursued her residency in dermatology at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where she served as chief resident. 

Dr. Hadley King, dermatologist, headshot
Dr. Hadley King, M.D.

Hadley King, MD is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology.  She is also a Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Dr. King graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a degree in biochemistry.  She received her MD from Columbia University.  She trained in medicine at Greenwich Hospital, affiliated with the Yale University School of Medicine, and completed her dermatology residency at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

After residency, Dr. King worked as an attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, during which time she specialized in cutaneous oncology and photodynamic therapy.  She also has a background in immunology and her research has been published in a variety of medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Beauty Editor

Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and shares the breakdown on the latest and greatest trends in the beauty space. She's studied up on every ingredient you'll find on INCI list and is constantly in search of the world's glowiest makeup products. Prior to joining the team, she worked as Us Weekly’s Beauty and Style Editor, where she stayed on the pulse of pop culture and broke down celebrity beauty routines, hair transformations, and red carpet looks. Her words have also appeared on Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, Delish.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Samantha also serves as a board member for the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). She first joined the organization in 2018, when she worked as an editorial intern at Food Network Magazine and Pioneer Woman Magazine. Samantha has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. While at GWU, she was a founding member of the school’s HerCampus chapter and served as its President for four years. When she’s not deep in the beauty closet or swatching eyeshadows, you can find her obsessing over Real Housewives and all things Bravo. Keep up with her on Instagram @samholender.

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