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Spray sunscreen?

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Why all the hate for spray on sunscreen?  I’ve heard rumors about it attacking the seams in the upholstery but I have a friend who owns an upholstery shop and he says that isn’t true. 

Also know it can be difficult to get off the windshield, but isn’t terrible. 

My wife and I just spent a significant amount of time cleaning off the seats from regular sunscreen. I really don’t understand how the spray kind can be worse. 

Educate me please. 

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I had the spray stuff melt sunglasses off my face with repeated uses. They were a good pair of Oakley sunglasses too. I've seen some pictures of footprints on docks where spray on sunscreen was applied. There is something in there that is very bad for plastic based materials.

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I have never had an issue either, had my last boat 10 years and the seems in vinyl were fine.  I do ask that it be sprayed on the swim step but this is more so other ppl in the boat aren't getting blasted in the face.

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For us it was less about discoloration and more about how slick it made the vinyl.  People would slip on seats from it, and it just never seemed good for the material.

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I don't think it hurts the vinyl or other plastics but people apply it carelessly so <50% hits their skin and makes an airborn mess.  Swim platform might work but the bow would have to be into the wind and that just doesn't happen by itself.

So we keep a tube of regular lotion on the boat for all to use and the spray stays onshore - to be used in the middle of the yard.

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I have tiny over spray spots (purple in appearance when the sun hits them just right) on my black Titan tower that I believe are from spray sunscreen. And one of our ski buddies is a doctor who doesn't miss an opportunity to tell us that the propellants and other chemicals (possibly benzones... we generally just tune him out.) are unhealthy. And he correctly points out that there is a warning on the can not to spray near your face, which means you need to carry another product with you anyway.  

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The waterproof nature of the sunscreen makes it difficult to remove from any surface it touches. It's not that the spray is worse to remove, it's that it needs to be removed from every single surface of the boat due to generous over-spray.

I ask everyone to try to limit all sunscreen usage on the boat. Put it on at the house, onto dry skin, and wait the 15-30 minutes for it to soak in like you are supposed to. It works better that way, and doesn't make clean-up of the boat such a pain. 

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For whatever reason once we started bringing on spray we started getting weird dirty spots on the vinyl. Looked kind of like dirty clogged pores. Took us a while to figure out, but once we stopped then the dirty areas stopped appearing. It was older vinyl but made it a pain to clean. Maybe new spray stuff or vinyl is better, but I prefer to keep it away based on that experience.

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For me, I can't stand the stuff because people generally use no common sense when they spray it, so I'll inevitably get a mouthful of it when we're out and about places (concerts, beach, etc.), so it gets nowhere near my boat.  Also, for my [email protected]$$ nature, a tube of lotion for the same price goes about 10x farther than a can of spray-on.

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Do not allow spray sunscreen on my boat.   Typically a person sprays more than just themselves.  Gets on to the rest of the interior (seats, floor, dash, windshield, tower, speakers, etc...), others in the boat, Gel coat, sunglasses, etc....    Any wind and it is sprays over a wide area.   Some even spray the stuff with bronze tanner color   Rather not deal with the clean up.  

Plus the heath concerns with inhalation.  Article on potential risk:  https://gizmodo.com/dont-use-spray-sunscreen-1827342545


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One other thing we do is spray it into our hand then rub it on or spray with the nozzle pretty close to the skin. This helps reduce the mist going everywhere.

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So, a buddy of mine had a bottle of spray screen on his boat...it was left laying down (why not the average person does not think it will spill) it dripped and this particular brand discolored his seat about a tennis ball sized bleach spot.

I know what spray does to my kids swimsuits, I don't let it on my boat. This policy has served me well. I keep a bottle of safe screen on the boat at all times and I am happy to share this with my guests.


Better safe than sorry...


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I called Malibu directly about this. The guy I spoke to a Malibu said in no uncertain terms they recommend that you do not use spray on sunscreen at all. I comes off the skin and stains the vinyl just as badly as if it is sprayed in the boat.

Interestingly enough, we have a TimberTech deck and in their care section it says that certain types of sunscreens will stain the deck. They don't call out spray on specifically but I can only imagine that's what they're getting at based on Malibu's strong recommendation that you not use it at all.

A friend of mine uses spray on sunscreen on his boat all the time. His vinyl all has a shadow-like blackish haze to it now that he can't get out.

I don't let it on my boat. I bring a lot of rub on sunscreen and let everyone know that they can use as much as they want but please don't use spray on when you come on the boat.

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I'm fine with it as long as it isn't done around the dash.  No ill effects and we have been using it for years.  Around the dash is problem though, as it doesn't come of gauges easily.  No impact on my vinyl though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A different type of sunscreen was recommended to us by a friend in the UK.  It’s called P20.  You can buy in on amazon.  It’s comes in a spray or a bottle.  It’s liquid to start but dries fast.  I can’t say enough about how amazing this stuff is.  I’m light skin and can burned under moonlight.  So when I say this stuff works, it really does.  One application and done.  Could reapply if in and out of the water a lot.  I just spent 2 days at Oshkosh in full sun and didn’t get the slightest hint of a sunburn. Only one morning application.  



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This is why you get a dark interior... in all seriousness both my grandfather and dad had minor forms of skin cancer from too much sun exposure. When on my boat, I don’t care how you want to protect your skin. But I do ask that you spray on the swim platform. I only use spray sunscreen too. 

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We use it every outing.  We do apply it at the back of the boat but I don’t know of any lingering effects.  We do wipe down the vinyl pretty much every outing too, so maybe that is counteracting any sunscreen effects?   

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