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Sunscreens are not just for blazing hot summer months. Any time you’re outdoors, it’s a good idea to protect yourself from head to toe.

It’s hard to beat the convenience of spray-on sunscreens, whether you’re aiming for a hard-to-reach spot or wrestling a wiggly toddler who’s making a dash for the splash zone. Here are our top picks for year-round sunscreen sprays in six important categories.

In compiling the list below, we considered:

  • opinions from health professionals about the qualities that matter in each category
  • customer reviews to gauge for overall performance
  • key ingredients
  • broad spectrum coverage and water resistance

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = over $25

Sunscreen safety

In January 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a study demonstrating that the chemical ingredients in sunscreens — whether they’re sprays or lotions — are readily absorbed into the bloodstream.

More studies need to be done to evaluate the safety of sunscreen sprays, which may be inhaled in addition to being absorbed through the skin.

Experts are also concerned about whether fine mists provide enough coverage to be really effective against the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends taking these steps to apply sprays safely:

  • Don’t spray sunscreens directly onto your face or neck.
  • Make four sweeps over each area to be sure you’re completely covered.
  • Rub in the sunscreen to be sure you’re covered evenly.
  • Don’t use sprays on windy days.
  • Don’t spray near open flames or heat sources.
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Best sunscreen spray for sensitive skin

EltaMD UV Aero Broad Spectrum 45 Full-Body Sunscreen

  • Price: $$

This is our top choice for people with skin that breaks out easily, people with skin conditions, like rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema, and people who have allergic reactions to chemicals in sunscreens.

Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, this spray gets top scores from dermatologists. It feels light, rubs in easily, and goes on white, so you can see the zones you’ve missed.

Best sunscreen spray for babies and toddlers

Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen Spray SPF 30

  • Price: $

The FDA recommends that you avoid using any sunscreens at all on babies 6 months and younger. Instead, make sure that they are protected from the sun with hats, clothing, and umbrellas.

For older babies, toddlers, and young children, this mom-created mist is made with 100 percent non-nano zinc oxide. It sprays on clear, not white, and protects your baby for 80 minutes — even in the water.

Best sunscreen spray for dark skin tones

UncompliKated SPF Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray SPF 50

  • Price: $$

This spray offers great sun protection and absorbs quickly and completely, without leaving a ghostly white or purple haze on your skin.

The non-nano mist is slim enough to slip in your bag, so you can give yourself a quick spritz before you head outdoors. Bonus: It’s also a makeup setting spray, so it protects your skin while it keeps your face fresh.

Best reef-safe sunscreen spray

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Price: $

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) confirms that chemicals in many sunscreens are damaging and destroying vital off-shore coral reefs. These are the chemical culprits you should avoid: Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, nano-Titanium dioxide, and nano-Zinc oxide.

This award-winning spray is vegan, non-nano, 100 percent mineral, and doesn’t contain any of those chemicals known to damage aquatic life.

Reviewers say it’s ideal for sensitive skin — just remember to shake the canister before you apply.

What does non-nano mean?

Sunscreen manufacturers can change the size of the zinc oxide or titanium dioxide particles in their physical sunscreens. The smaller the particle, the more transparent it is on your skin. Here’s the rub: Larger particles give you more sun protection.

There’s no evidence that nanoparticles in sunscreen could hurt you if they sink into your skin — but they could have adverse effects on marine life. The Environmental Working Group explains more about the research into nanoparticles here.

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Best anti-aging sunscreen spray

Supergoop PLAY Antioxidant Body Mist with Vitamin C SPF 50

  • Price: $

Taking good care of your skin means protecting against today’s sun exposure while helping skin recover from the damage you’ve already experienced. This formula is rich in antioxidants and moisturizers, in addition to the sun protection it provides.

With acai and green tea extracts to counteract damaging free radicals and a stabilized form of vitamin C, this sunscreen aims to protect and help correct sun-damaged mature-looking skin.

Best sunscreen spray for athletes

KINeSYS Performance Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

  • Price: $

The American Heart Association recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. When you’re biking, hiking, running, or swimming, you’ll want sun protection that works as hard as your body does.

This vegan, cruelty-free product is oil-free, PABA-free, paraben-free, and alcohol-free. The light, matte, sweat-resistant mist lasts up to 80 minutes. With no fragrance and no alcohol, this spray is a good choice for athletes with sensitive skin.

Spray sunscreens are popular because they’re quick and easy to apply, and many products feel light and silky on your skin.

For children, people with sensitive skin, and people concerned about what sunscreens do to marine life, a physical sunscreen that contains a mineral protectant, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, is a good choice.

Broad-spectrum chemical sunscreens offer excellent protection from UVA and UVB rays, but they may irritate the skin or harm the environment.

To maximize the effectiveness of your spray, choose a product that’s water-resistant but won’t coat you in a sticky white film.

Most important: When you apply a spray sunscreen, be careful not to breathe it in and make sure you use plenty of product — most people don’t.