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Since it's put on to prevent medical conditions, are there recognized halachic authorities who say that applying sunscreen (a cream NOT lotion) is muttar (permitted) on shabbos?

  • I believe that if your sunscreen also is a moisturizing lotion, then I believe that you can use it since healthy people also use it. By another token, vitamins are permissible to take on Shabbath since healthy people take them to prevent illness. This should also apply to sunscreen even without moisturizer. These are two reasons to permit it. There is concern of rubbing or smearing on one's own body on Shabbath. Kol tuv. – user3342 Sep 24 '15 at 17:44
  • Per Shulchan Aruch 128:23 it should be permitted since it's to protect not heal,I am referring to the liquid sprays not the cream which should be assur – sam Sep 24 '15 at 17:45
  • To me, sunscreen is protection and is it really necessary? You could protect yourself from the sun by wearing clothes or a hat or staying inside, right? So, if it's not needed on Shabbat, does that not, in a sense, make it muktzah? – DanF Sep 24 '15 at 18:34
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There are two points which must be addressed:

1) Is cream permitted to be applied on shabbos for medical reasons? See here:

The Gemara (Shabbos 146) writes that it is forbidden miderabanan to spread oil, as it is similar to the act of memarayach, which is forbidden mideoraisa (See Rambam, Shabbos 23:11). R’ Ribiat (The 39 Melochos p919) writes that this applies to hand creams such as Nivea and Vaseline, etc. One may, however, use a liquid hand lotion (which can be poured). R’ Dr. Avraham Avraham writes (Nishmat Avraham 1 OC 328:22b) that both R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 33:n58) and R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 7:30:2) held that while spreading an ointment evenly on one’s skin is forbidden mideoraisa, this is only if it remains on the surface. One may, however, rub cream into the skin if it gets properly absorbed (See Daas Torah 328:26; Minchas Yitzchak 7:20). As one shouldn’t take medicine on Shabbos, this doesn’t apply to medicinal creams, though a bedridden patient (choleh shein bo sakanah) may rub such cream in. The same applies to young children. For creams that are not absorbed, one may press cream (from the back of a spoon, etc.) providing one does not rub the cream in. One is allowed to rub off excess ointments.

2) Is sunscreen cream considered a medical reason? See here:

One cannot justify using sunscreen due to an acute medical need if the need arises from one’s desire to sunbathe. It is permitted to spray liquid sunscreen (Orchot Shabbat 17:20.). This is not considered medicinal because its purpose is not to strengthen the body but to shield one from external injury (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 328:27, which permits covering a healing wound with a bandage).

  • Sunscreen isn't medicine at all. Totally healthy people put it on! There's nothing to justify. – Double AA Mar 29 '17 at 3:10
  • @DoubleAA I'm not sure about that. IIRC some of the nosei keilim on SA at the beginning of OC 328 say that מאכל בריא does not suffice to permit something with medicinal value. – Shokhet Mar 29 '17 at 4:51
  • @Shokhet What do you mean by "medicinal value"? This doesn't heal anything. – Double AA Mar 29 '17 at 5:08

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