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Aerosol sunscreens inadequate for UV coverage

14 February 2022

ARPANSA and the Cancer Council of Victoria have advised Australians to avoid using aerosol sunscreens and stick with creams and lotions for UV protection. 

The advice follows a recent study conducted by Griffith University that found the effectiveness of applying aerosol sprays is impacted by wind conditions.

The research tested five commercially available aerosol sunscreen products in Australia.

'Tests were conducted in controlled laboratory environments which simulated the application of aerosol sunscreen during various wind conditions’ said Dr Elke Hacker, Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University.

‘The study found that a large percentage of the sunscreen does not reach the skin when being sprayed at the recommended distance.’

‘We calculated the blown away sunscreen could cost the user between $4-16 per application.’

These findings follow previous research showing aerosol sprays are not as effective as creams or lotions as it’s difficult to know how much sunscreen is dispensed with each spray.

ARPANSA recommends that users opt for other SPF products with a more reliable application method, like a cream or a lotion.

‘Skin cancer impacts 1 in 3 Australians and sunscreen is key to prevention’ said Dr Rick Tinker, Director of Assessment and Advice for ARPANSA.

‘Knowing how much sunscreen you are applying is important.’

‘Protecting Australians from the harmful effects of UV radiation is a core part of ARPANSA’s role and this research helps us understand the efficacy of sunscreen products.’

Sunscreen should be the last line of defence and should be used alongside other sun protection methods:  

  • slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
  • slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 or higher sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards
  • slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears
  • seek shade
  • slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.

The full report is available on the ARPANSA website:  PDF icon Aerosol Sunscreen Report November 2021