Considering that summer is just around the corner, you definitely need something to protect your skin from the dangerous UV rays. Plus, if you’re outdoors a lot, you know how annoying all those bugs and flies can be, not to mention dangerous. So if you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone, you might consider acquiring a sunscreen with bug spray.
This two in one idea might sound too good to be true, and in some ways it is. But if you want to get one, we’ll take you through all its advantages and disadvantages, discussing them thoroughly.
There are a lot of controversies regarding this sort of skin protection product, but we’ll try to dismantle them, so you can make an informed, safe decision.
When it comes to the pros of using a skin lotion that contains both sunscreen and insect repellent, you can say they all depend on your point of view, purpose, and needs. And no matter what the critics of such a product say, no one can’t deny it’s:
The multi-functionality of this product is easy to grasp and it’s in its very own name. You’ll get a 2 in 1 product, that offers both an effective sunblock, as well as a means to repel various insects.
Of course, exactly how multi-functional this is, depends on the specific product you’ll buy. And that, in turn, depends on how qualitative it is, what substances it uses, and so forth. But most of such good products on the market will get you:
- Protection from the dangerous UV rays, maybe even both UVA and UVB protection.
- Resistance to water and sweat.
- Ability to repel various sorts of the most common insects that can bother you outdoors.
Since you get a product which combines two useful items outdoors, now you won’t have to carry two containers. That means this is very travel-friendly because:
- You save space, even if not a lot, it’s still important when you carry a lot of stuff and space is an issue.
- You decrease the total weight of your luggage, even by little.
- You have fewer chances of forgetting something important at home – now you only have to remember packing one item instead of two.
A product which combines sunscreen and insect spray is a fast way to get protected against two of the most common outdoor enemies: UV rays and bugs. As such, you won’t have to apply one lotion or spray first, wait for it to penetrate your skin, then apply the other one. Plus, you’ll have most of the same benefits, seeing as the best available products will:
- Provide several hours of potent bug resistance.
- Shield you from water and sweat for one to two hours at least.
- Keep you guarded against UV rays, since they have high UV protection factors.
Another quite important benefit is that you’ll have to pay less in the long run. There are two ways in which you can look at this matter. Let’s say that you’re willing to pay $10 for sunscreen and $10 for bug spray, and therefore get two products with $20. If you’ll get a sunblock with bug repellent included, you can:
- Choose a product that costs approximately $10 – $15 too, since most of them are in this price range. At this point, you’ll save $5 to $10.
- Choose a product that costs around $20, and at this point, you’ll make sure you’re getting a more qualitative item.
This will get you more UV and insect protection than both of the cheaper sunscreen and bug repellent you would have gotten for the same amount. And that means you’re making a wise investment since you’re getting better quality for the money.
Basically, whichever option you might choose, you can make sure that you’re getting a better deal unless money is no concern to you.
The critics of a product with both sunblock and insect repellent argue that it’s not a safe option to choose, particularly when children are involved. And we agree that you could be using it wrong.
But then again, that can happen with literally any spray out there. For all we know, you could be purposely sticking it into your eyes, then claiming it’s not a good product.
But here are some reasons why using a combined insect repellent and sunblock spray is perfectly safe:
You’ll be following the instructions
To start with, if you follow the instruction specified on the container, you should be on the safe side. As such, you have to:
- Apply enough spray, making sure you’re getting an even layer.
- Make sure your skin is completely dry.
- Never apply the lotion or the spray directly on your face. Conversely, you have to put some on your hand first, then use it on your face.
- If you’re using such a product for your kids, make sure you apply it to them. Or that there’s an adult that can do that, especially for younger kids.
- If you’re getting in the water for a good swim, and you still need to be protected from insects, you should reapply the cream. However, the number of applications allowed daily has a restricted number for adults (under 10), and for children.
- You have to store the product carefully, in a cool, dry place.
- Once you’ve opened the container for use, you must be careful to close it again very tightly.
- Once you’ve emptied the spray can or the lotion bottle, you mustn’t use it for something else.
Why using such a product means you’ll be safe even against your own will
Of course, you must wonder what happens if you don’t follow these exact directions when using your sunscreen with insect spray, probably thinking it’s ok to bend the rules a bit. Actually, it’s not, if you don’t want to commit a crime. See our expert review of the top mosquito repellent for more safe options.
Yes, you’ve read that right. Apparently, most of these products give out a fair warning on their label, stating that you’ll be violating Federal law if you don’t apply them thoroughly, following the indications exactly how they appear on the label.
You can choose wisely
We’re sure there are a lot of dangerous products on the market, and that doesn’t depend only on the labeling instructions. It also depends on the substances they use and the certificates and approvals they have.
So we’re pretty convinced the consumers also play an important part when it comes to choosing a safe item, whether we’re talking about the 2in1 sunscreen with insect spray or about something else. As such, we advise you to get:
A product that specifically states it doesn’t include any DEET
This is for your own piece of mind most of all. There’s a recent chemical-phobia in the media, although DEET-based products can be totally safe. They’ve been thoroughly tested for decades and in extensive studies that prove most DEET products are ok to use. And when they’re not ok, you can easily find that out after a bit of online research.
But if you want to make sure you’re keeping it natural all the way and you’re not putting any sort of chemicals on your skin, you can always opt for a spray that doesn’t include DEET.
This is the option of choice particularly for families who have kids and want to use the same product for everyone, without fear of negative consequences. It’s also the case if you’re allergic to some of the substances used in DEET insect repellents, so it’s good you have other options, but the most important thing is to look for them.
A product with no chemically active sunblock ingredients
Sunscreen also includes various chemically active agents. Again, these are not inherently dangerous or bad for your health, but you might simply refuse to use them either because of allergies, sensitivity, convenience or principles.
Some of this frowned-upon ingredients include oxybenzone and octanoate, but they definitely get the job done regarding broad spectrum UV protection.
However, the good news is you can get the same powerful effect with other natural choices, using products which have minerals like zinc oxide.
A product with all the right certifications
At this point, we can’t say a lot, you’ll just have to read the label. It’s wise to make sure the products you’re using are approved by the CDC and FDA. Even if they’re not, that’s not automatically bad, you’ll just have to ensure they’re not on their blacklist. Apart from that, look for organic and vegan certifications if you’re choosing an all-natural product.
Even if you don’t check to see that the spray container itself doesn’t have any BPAs and phthalates, which are proven to be dangerous.
An eco-friendly product
If you’re searching for the perfect mix of sunscreen and insect repellent under the same roof, and you’re after the most eco-friendly option on the market, ensure it:
- Doesn’t do any animal testing.
- Is biodegradable.
- Doesn’t pose any danger to various ecosystems, such as (but not limited to) coral reefs.
After looking at the good things regarding a product that combines both sunblock and insect repellent, it’s time to look at what the critics have to say.
We’ll also try to put the negatives into perspective. We believe that a product is bad when it’s objective characteristics render it improper for use. But if the product has all the right properties, and people use it wrong, then it’s not a bad product at all.
It doesn’t have some important approvals
For instance, neither the CDC nor the EPA recommends such a combination. If you’re looking on their websites, you’ll see they advise people to use sunscreen before they put on a bug spray. The explanation for this is that sunscreen needs to be absorbed, but the repellent doesn’t because it protects just the outer layer of your skin.
However, we can easily disagree with this argument because:
- The lack of CD and EPA endorsement doesn’t mean you’re getting a dangerous product. Conversely, neither the CDC nor the EPA specifically recommends against a mix of sunblock and insect repellent.
- You don’t have to buy a lotion-based product, that could potentially introduce dangerous chemicals used for insect repellents inside your body. Choose a spray, and both the sunscreen and the bug repellent will be limited to the outer layer of your skin.
The ways of using are different
Another counter-argument is that you put on sunscreen and insect repellent in different ways:
- Sunscreen: you should reapply it plentifully during the day, especially if you come into contact with water or if you sweat a lot.
- Insect repellent: you should apply just enough of it so that you get an even, thin layer on the exposed skin. You don’t have to reapply it, unless the bugs actually get to you, in which case the repellent obviously backfired so you need another layer.
Therefore, the critics argue that if you frequently put on insect repellent all through the day, you’ll get dangerous chemicals into your bloodstream without needing to.
However, it could be argued that:
- The products have been tested and you’ll see on the label how many times it’s safe to reapply the spray without getting to the dangerous point. So don’t overdue it and you’ll be fine, provided you’re not allergic.
- Reapplying the spray should be done only if it’s necessary, like going for a swim. But, if you’re just hiking in a bug infested place without actually going for a bath in the meantime, you’ll be perfectly safe with just one use.
- Since the manufacturers obviously know their product is combining insect repellent with sunscreen, which has to be applied differently, most trustworthy products will use less potent chemicals for the substance against bugs.
The ugly part of it all is that this combination between two different products might not work at all. Surely, we all know that when you take two perfectly good things and try to mix them together you might end up with a total fiasco.
But is that the case here?
You might be less protected from the sun
The first thing that the critics of this 2in1 option clamor against is that you can’t receive the same sun protection. Why? Because people who are afraid of using too much product on their skin will skip reapplying if they feel they don’t have to. So they’ll skip it after they take a quick swim or after they sweat, thinking it doesn’t matter.
But since it does, these fault-finders are sure they’ll end up with all the ugly effects of overexposure to the sun. However, come back to the instructions on the label and you’ll be fine. Reapply the spray freely whenever you need it, without fear of something bad happening, provided you follow the official guidelines.
You might be less protected from bugs
As opposed to the previous step, it’s believed you can also have less insect resistance because you might overdue it with reapplying the product on your skin to avoid UV rays. With the risk of becoming too pedantic, we advise you to just follow the instructions.
And although that might be true, we feel it’s a given that people who use this combination don’t have the intention of getting in the water every chance they get, to lessen the effect of the sunscreen.
Another reason is that the chemicals used for insect protection are less powerful than in a stand-alone insect repellent manufactured specifically for this purpose.
Some studies show that that’s the case indeed, while others show the opposite is true. But it all boils down to your specific purpose and when you’re thinking of using the thing.
- Are you hiking in Australia where the UV rays are really strong and where the insects roam freely? Then choose a product with increased UV factor and powerful against a wide range of bugs.
- Are you taking a quick backcountry hike or you’re preparing for an outdoor picnic? Then you can be safe with a spray that doesn’t have the highest numbers on the market.
Also, take into account that DEET are not the devil. Many studies show they’re not really all that threatening health-wise. In fact, they don’t have severe negative effects on humans, so a DEET-based 2in1 spray isn’t all that dangerous if you happen to mistakenly apply more than you need to.
So while you don’t want either overexposure to toxicity, nor too little protection, it doesn’t mean you have to go with two different products. It just means you have to assess your purposes really well and choose what benefits you. And if that means going with two items, or just one, that’s entirely up to you.
Do check out our list of the top insect repellents to protect you outdoors.
What will it be for you?
Whichever product you choose, though, be careful about not overdoing it. Chemicals and sprays oftentimes have dangerous effects, especially if you get them into your eyes, nose, mouth or in an open wound. That being said, we’re curious where you stand: are you going with the 2in1 option, or do you prefer to take the two items separately?
And, if you have a special product you can’t live without, let us know, the comment section awaits.