The SPF Brand Dermatologists Always Recommend Just Launched a Hydrating Spray-On Mineral Sunscreen That’s Totally Invisible

Photo: Stocksy / Ivan Gener
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EltaMD has been protecting our skin from UV rays since 2007. The brand has long been a sun-care darling among dermatologists because it makes wonderful, cosmetically elegant mineral and chemical sunscreens and offers options for everyone. And now, the brand is back with a new-and-improved spray-on formula that works everywhere—UV AOX Mist.

"When creating UV AOX Mist, we looked to create a broad-spectrum SPF product that was suitable for both body and face, water resistant for 40 minutes, and that wasn’t just made for the sun, but also the skin," says Lia Arvanitidou, PhD, VP of global technology and design at Colgate-Palmolive, EltaMD's parent company. "It protects skin from premature aging and offers a beautiful, blendable finish that people want to wear every day."

EltaMD UV AOX Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 40 ($45) is made with antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E to reduce skin discoloration and visible signs of aging while fighting free radicals and protecting the skin from environmental aggressors. It's also made with a blend of coconut extract and glycerin to hydrate the skin. "When out in the sun, skin can tend to dry out, but with the inclusion of these ingredients we’re preventing dehydration as well as water loss from the skin," says Dr. Arvanitidou. Plus, it has skin-soothing like aloe vera—a wonderful anti-inflammatory ingredient to have on your skin when getting a lot of sun exposure. When I spray it on and rub it in, it feels more like I'm using a lotion spray than a sunscreen.

Although the formula uses zinc oxide, a mineral sun blocker that is naturally white, to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays, it rubs in clear. When you spray it on, it disperses white, which Dr. Arvanitidou says was intentional "to ensure you don’t miss a spot when applying." But once you rub it in, it turns totally clear—it's honestly shocking to watch it disappear before my eyes.

"It is an art and a science to formulate a product with the desired aesthetics and great cosmetic elegance," says Dr. Arvanitidou. "We were able to do it because of the grade of transparent zinc oxide that we use and the right ratio of emulsifiers to zinc oxide in our formula."

What makes this SPF spray super special is that it uses air introduced through "bag-on-valve" technology instead of chemical propellants to get the sunscreen out of the can.

"The air-powered packaging technology allows effortless application for 360° angle spraying—meaning it can spray from any angle, including upside down," says Joel Cohen, MD, a board-certified dermatologist who was involved in the product's beta testing. "This makes it easy to use for hard-to-reach and often missed spots like the middle of your back, shoulders, and the back of your knees. This, coupled with its 100 percent mineral sheer finish formula and added antioxidant benefits make UV AOX Mist an SPF hat trick.”

The lack of chemical propellants is especially important because these chemicals can sometimes introduce trace levels of the cariogenic organic compound benzene into aerosol products. In a May 2021 petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from independent laboratory Valisure, it was reported that 78 batches of aerosol sunscreens from several brands (including EltaMD) contained trace amounts of benzene. The compound wasn’t intentionally added to any of these sunscreens, but was rather "discovered as a contaminant during the production process,” says Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Southern California. “In the case of spray-on sunscreen, it seems to be found in the propellant."

The amount of benzene found in these products was so low, that it likely had no impact on health. "The reality is that we have exposure to trace benzene in many situations, including pumping gas for your car, far more than would be from a contaminant such as this," says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts. However, decreasing exposure to benzene is a plus, so the new EltaMD UV AOX Mist is a wonderful step in the right direction.

So if you're looking for a sheer and hydrating face-and-body spray-on sunscreen to get you through your morning runs, days spent at the beach, long drives with the sun beating through the window—basically, anytime UV rays can reach you—the EltaMD UV AOX Mist is a sure-fire choice.

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