My product rating: spray-on sunblock

Cursed with the freckled complexion of my Irish ancestors, I’ve always had to be careful in the sun. Well, apparently I wasn’t careful enough because about 4 years ago, the funny-looking freckle on my shoulder turned out to be melanoma. Yep, scared me silly. Other than the 5-inch scar, (no more strapless ball gowns for me) I emerged unscathed but with a freakish desire to apply sunblock to every person I encounter and lecture teenage girls about the evils of sunbathing and tanning booths. Since a good deal of my summer is spent on the ball field, I have tried just about every kind of sunblock and now present my findings.

Sunblock

The candidates

The candidates:

I tested four products, all of which are available at Target.* All are a minimum of 45 SPF and are the spray-on variety because no kid that I know will stand there and rub on a coating of sunblock before a game. All are tested on coverage, feel, smell and the all-important leg cross test. If you are too slick to keep your legs crossed with sunblock on, it’s just not good, for a number of reasons.

Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist SPF 45 – $10.69/5 oz
This sprays on nicely with even coverage. It is not slick or greasy feeling on application. As for the “fresh cooling” part that “refreshes with every application,” I’m a little skeptical because any fine, wet mist would be fresh and cooling when it’s 95 degrees out. It has a pleasant smell, I’d say about a 3 on the 10-point teenage boy AXE body spray scale. It passed the leg cross test.

Target Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Continuous Spray SPF 50 –  $6.59/6 oz
The Target Up & Up Sport Sunscreen feels a little wet feeling going on but after about 10 minutes, it’s dry and only very slightly sticky. It has a very mild odor, more of the sunscreen scent that makes you feel nostalgic for sunny days in the backyard with the kiddie pool. It has a pretty wide spray path so it’s goes on quickly but there’s a lot of over spray which seems wasteful to me, and is harder to control where you are spraying, especially on wiggly, skinny kids. It stays on during sweaty sports activities and also passed the leg cross test.

Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof SPF 50 – $8.24/6 oz
The Coppertone stuff is the standard at our house. It goes on evenly, with a more controlled spray than the Target Up & Up, and feels a little dryer, but after 10 minutes, both feel the same on the skin. It also has a mild sunscreen odor that dissipates. You can usually find a big pack of Coppertone Sport at Costco or Sam’s Club, and Coppertone also has a coupon on their website. It stays on during sweaty sports activities and is probably the best at the leg cross test, although the Target brand is pretty darn close.

Aveeno Hydrosport Sunblock Spray SPF 85 –  $10.49/5 oz (SPF 50 is $9.99/5 oz)
The Aveeno claims you can apply it even on wet skin, but frankly, once you put it on you are so wet, it would be difficult to tell how you started out. I was really disappointed with this. It flunked the leg cross test outright and just generally felt slimy and sticky until I washed it off. Yuck. I would not recommend this for any sports despite the “natural lotus complex.”

The results:

I might risk a sunburn before I used the Aveeno. My kids really like the Neutrogena Fresh Cooling spray but this stuff gives me a rash, so if you have sensitive skin, you might want to test it out on a small patch of skin. Plus it’s really expensive. The Coppertone Sport is a good choice and you can usually find it on sale or use a coupon. But for the money, the Target Up & Up is just as good so if it’s between the two, go for the Target brand.

The FDA recently announced that it’s going to impose stricter standards on sunscreens and product claims. That should make the selection process easier on the consumer. WebMD has a nice guide about choosing a sunscreen for your family. The most important thing is to find a sunblock you and your kids will wear and then wear it! And if you don’t, expect to be accosted by the crazy sunblock lady with the scarred shoulder and pamphlets on how to identify melanoma.

Play safe and have fun! And please share your sunblock ratings in the comments.

*I didn’t get any compensation or products for this review, although I’d happily accept them, but I do own a small amount of stock in Target, mostly so I get my own money back. 
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One Comment on “My product rating: spray-on sunblock”

  1. […] either stock up on heating pads, sunblock and contact solution or we lose that money. Well, even a mom on a mission to wipe out melanoma can only go through so much sunblock. And losing our hard-earned money isn’t an attractive […]


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