Feel the Burn (Literally)—Spray Sunscreens Are Catching Fire

by Alexandra Owens

Getty ImagesGetty Images Ever wonder what seemingly innocuous thing scientists are going to find out is terrifyingly dangerous in five years? Today we can add aerosol sunscreen to the list. NPR reports that the Food and Drug Administration recorded five incidents during 2012 in which people suffered burns from their aerosol sunscreen catching fire while performing activities like cooking on an open grill, lighting a cigarette, or standing near a candle. And we don't mean they sprayed the can directly into a flame--they caught fire seconds or minutes later, while the liquid was still wet on their skin.

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Bursting into flames like a vampire on True Blood is pretty much the last thing you would expect from responsibly wearing sunscreen like you've been programmed to do, but this terrifying mental image makes perfect sense. Spray-on suncreens contain flammable ingredients like alcohol, and when exposed to flame, alcohol catches fire.

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While the Banana Boat product that was to blame in all these cases was recalled last fall, the FDA warns that any sunscreen sprays could carry this risk. So never apply them near an open flame, and don't go near fire until the liquid has dried completely. And if this report has completely freaked you out, perhaps this is a good time to stock up on old-fashioned liquid sunscreen.

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