In the post, less toxic sunscreen can cost more than an eco-friendly car, I said I’d be back with some (hopefully) less expensive sunscreen choices. After looking at our options, what I’ve found, is that 95% of the time the less a sunscreen costs, the more icky chemicals are in it.
This means you’ve got three options…
1) Shell out massive amounts of cash for crazy expensive, but safe sunscreen.
2) Pay less for sunscreen that may contain some questionable ingredients.
3) Skip sunscreen altogether and deal with the repercussions of unprotected sun exposure.
Wow. What awesome choices! Obviously this brings up the issue of which is worse – chemicals or unprotected sun exposure.
In a perfect world, I’d be safe to say that both unprotected sun exposure and chemical exposure are equally bad, because you could afford to buy that really expensive, but way safer sunscreen. Reality check – most families cannot afford the safest sunscreens on the market. In most cases going green saves you money, but sunscreen is one area where going green (or at least, going a little safer) can potentially break the bank.
That said, most green families are going to have to compromise. For example, I normally apply a ton of super picky review criteria to body care products, mainly because half-baked green product reviews are a major pet peeve of mine. However, when it comes to sunscreens I have to be more slack, or we’d have zero affordable choices.
My criteria for affordable but still kind of safe sunscreen is as follows:
- Forget about green packaging in this case, or you’re out of luck.
- Look for sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone, the biggest bad ingredient found in sunscreens. It’s a known endocrine disruptor, free-radical creator and a possible cancer cause.
- In this case, I’m allowing organic faker brands, something I never do, and I’m fairly upset about doing. However, if I didn’t allow organic faker brands, our sunscreen choices would be way slimmer than they already are.
- The sunscreen must be around $2 per oz. or less. $2 per oz., is still super expensive in my opinion. Still, with many sunscreens coming in at $6, $9 and even $25 + per oz., $2.00 seemed like a decent price to go with.
The safest sunscreen you can get for about $2.00 per oz.
In fact, I could only find two REALLY safe sunscreens on this list that cost about $2 or less per oz., and those two sunscreens are…
- $2.10 per oz. Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStuff lotion – 9.5 oz. bottle.
- $1.80 or less per oz. (but only in bulk) Tropical Sands SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion 5.4-oz – use their wholesale link, to find the best deal. For example, if you buy 48 bottles, the price for this sunscreen goes down to $1.80 per oz. (i.e. amazing). One idea is to gather friends and family together and buy a lot at once. Plus there’s free USA shipping on orders over $75.
Safest & most affordable sunscreens from the EWG sunscreen guide
After checking out sunscreens on the Safe Mama list, I took a look at the annual EWG safe sunscreen guide. I couldn’t find any sunscreens with the best score, a 1, that were also affordable.
I was however, able to find some lower cost sunscreens with scores of 2-4, that still feature decent UVB and UVA protection, decent stability and low to moderate health concerns. None of these sunscreens are the top cream of the crop safe sunscreens, but none of them have major red flag safety hazards either.
The sunscreens below score a 2 on the EWG safe sunscreen guide
- $1.99 per oz. Alba Botanica SunBlock, Mineral protection, Kids SPF 30
- $2.00 per oz. BabyGanics SPF Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
- $1.90 per oz. Nature’s Gate Mineral Kid’sblock SPF 20
The sunscreens below score a 3 on the EWG safe sunscreen guide
- $1.60 per oz. Avalon Organics Baby Natural Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 18
- $2.50 – $3.00 per oz. Aveeno Sun Natural Protection Sunblock SPF 30 Lotion – seen for $2.00 per oz, or less, at the store with coupon and on sale.
- $1.10 per oz. Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple Lotion, SPF 50
- $1.20 per oz. Coppertone Sensitive Skin Suncreen Lotion, SPF 50
- $1.70 per oz. CVS Sunblock With Zinc Oxide Spf 45+
- $2.10 per oz Kiss My Face Sun Screen with Oat Protein Complex, SPF 30 (if you buy the 3 pack)
The sunscreens below score a 4 on the EWG safe sunscreen guide
- $2.30 per oz. Alba Botanica Sunblock Sport SPF 45, Water Resistant
- $2.00 per oz. CVS Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 30
I wasn’t comfortable going lower than an EWG score of 4, because at this point, the sunscreens started to look a lot more shady health-wise.
More expensive (but not insanely expensive) safer sunscreens:
If you come into some big time money, or feel like blowing your savings on sunscreens, then the choices below are easy to find and pretty darn safe, but that safety comes with a bigger price tag. I’d only go with the choices below, if you really can’t find one of the choices above. Remember, you should be wearing sunscreen daily (year-round) so paying too much for sunscreen is a bad idea.
- $4.50 per oz. Badger Baby Sunscreen SPF 30+ Certified Natural
- $3.50 per oz. All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Natural Sunscreen Spray
- $2.90 per oz. Loving Naturals SPF 30 Sunscreen Zinc Oxide
- $3.20 per oz. Goddess Garden Kids Natural Sunscreen SPF 30
- $3.70 per oz. Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35
- $3 per oz. All Terrain Kidsport SPF 30
- $2.50 per oz. All Terrain TerraSport SPF 30
- $3.00 per oz. Jason Natural Cosmetics – Earth’s Best Sun Blck Chemical Free
- $2.90 per oz Jason Sunbrellas Mineral Based Physical Sunblock SPF 30
- $3.30 per oz. Vanicream Sunscreen Sport, Spf 35
Hopefully this list will help you find a decent year-round sunscreen you can actually afford. If you’ve got any other ideas let me know in the comments. Oh, and don’t forget to brush up on how to use sunscreen correctly.