Less expensive and still mostly safe sunscreen choices

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 junk (think 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, it’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 somewhat 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 the sake of affordable, but still pretty safe sunscreen is as follows:

  • 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 AROUND $2.00 PER OZ.


aby sunscreen, bad sunscreen, eco-friendly sunscreen, facial sunscreen, Green Family, green family blog, green kids, green living, greenfamily, kids sunscreen, natural sunscreen, organic sunscreen, safe sunscreen, skin cancer, spf, sun dangers, sun protection, sun safety, sunscreen dangers, sunscreen for lips, top-rated sunscreens, toxic sunscreen, uv rays, worst sunscreenMy favorite sunscreen list is the Safe Mama list, however, this list is WAY too expensive for the average family. Well, too expensive if you’re applying sunscreen correctly.

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…

  • $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 AND MOST AFFORDABLE SUNSCREENS FROM THE EWG 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

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The sunscreens below score a 3 on the EWG safe sunscreen guide

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The sunscreens below score a 4 on the EWG safe sunscreen guide

I wasn’t comfortable going lower than an EWG score of 4, because then all of the sunscreens started to look a lot more shady health-wise.

MORE EXPENSIVE (but not insanely expensive) SAFE SUNSCREEN CHOICES:

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 at a bigger price. 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 going too expensive is a bad idea.

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.

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Comments

  1. says

    Jennifer,

    This is one of your very valuable posts. Thank you so much for doing the research and work that most of us don’t. But then, that’s because personally, I depend on you to do it! I’ve been using Badger for a few years and it’s not my favorite for many reasons, but I do it. I’ll try some of the less expensive ones. I don’t use it all year around unless I’m in the sun which here has been about five days since November! On our trip over the last six weeks I used it a lot more. I do try to stay out of the sun and sun’s reflection as much as possible and same thing with the grandkids.

    Thanks very much!

  2. TheGreenPear says

    I think you forgot the 4th choice and maybe something to look into for your next subject. That would be making your own sunscreen. Anyone here have any recipes they use and can share with us how well it works?

  3. Jennifer Chait says

    @TheGreenPear – I didn’t forget the homemade sunscreen. I feel like one, that sort of deal is its own post and two, I haven’t found any recipes yet that I’ve been able to confirm as containing actual sun protection ingredients. I’m thinking the ones with zinc are good, but also, obviously people want a certain level of useability. I’m worried about the chalk white issue involved with some homemade sunscreens. It has to be something people will use daily.

  4. says

    Great post! I really hate sunscreen shopping, so I’ll have to try these next time instead of standing there being annoyed with all the stupid choices :)

    Michael bought some Badger sunscreen for the first time when we were in Santa Monica when of course he didn’t put sunscreen on before leaving the hotel. His face was getting red. We found Badger face stick at REI and it came highly recommended by the staff there. Not bad, but not too cheap either. I keep meaning to try it myself.

    I’m looking at some lotion I wear sometimes: Aveeno Active Naturals Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 15. I got it mostly as a facial moisturizer since I like the feverfew, but now I’m wondering about the Avobenzone, Octinoxate and Octisalate.

    Why is it that all the safer sunscreens are just for kids? Would it really matter if adults used them too?

    Also, I wonder if anyone is going to attack me for posting a comment on a sunscreen topic again!

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