So, I hardly ever use sunscreen even though I know all about the dangers of skin cancer. The laziness that makes me "green" by default because I can't be bothered to put makeup on my face or use other girlie skin products is the same laziness that results in way too much unprotected sun exposure than this white girl should be allowed.
So anyway, I was going through cabinets in my house doing a routine plastic purge, and I found 4 nearly full plastic bottles of sunscreen. I looked up Enviroblog's article How To Choose A Better Sunscreen and found that all 4 of them fell squarely in the bad category, containing either oxybenzone or benzophenone-3. (According to the Environmental Working Group, safe sunscreens should be based on either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide and should not contain the above chemicals.) Mere hours after listing them on Freecycle, they were gone. The brands were Coppertone, Banana Boat, No Ad, and Swim n' Surf, and each container held about 8 ounces of product.
The next day, I popped over to Whole Foods with EWG's Sunscreen Guide in hand to replace the previous products. But what I found took my breath away... they were HELLA expensive! I expected the healthier products to be somewhat more pricey. But holy cow! The tiny 2.9 ounce container of all natural Badger brand sunscreen cost nearly $16! EWG says to apply sunscreen liberally. How long do you think a 2.9 ounce tube would last at a "liberal" rate?
Not to mention the plastic. I was willing to buy new plastic in order to replace my toxic sunscreens with a less toxic version. But how much plastic will I have to go through buying such small quantities at a time? NONE of the brands at Whole Foods were sold in any larger size than 4 ounces. And all of them cost at least $10 each.
I left Whole Foods empty-handed and headed over to Walgreen's drugstore to check out the few common brands that EWG actually feels are safe. Well, at first I couldn't find any on the shelves at all, among the Coppertones and Bullfrogs and Banana Boats. I did finally find the Neutrogena Sensitive Skin sunscreen, but also that it was full of parabens, preservatives that we are also warned to stay away from. And it wasn't any less expensive than the natural stuff.
So I am currently sunscreen-free and in a quandary. What should I do?
What sunscreen do you use, if any? Do you worry about questionable ingredients or do you just go for the cheapest and figure the chemicals are less of a worry than the UV radiation? Do you buy the expensive ones?
Or do you just avoid the sun altogether? Wear a hat and long sleeves? Carry a parasol?
What's the solution? Cuz I have no idea at this point. And part of me feels like I've been so lax about sunscreen up until now, I'm probably screwed anyway. Is that a bad attitude?
(This question was originally asked on my blog, Fake Plastic Fish, where you'll find some interesting answers to this quesion.)
More from beauty-style