Let the Sun Shine

I have been having serious sunscreen issues this year.  Generally, I just use what the kids use. For the past few years, that has been Banana Boats Kids Tear Free, Sting Free Super Super Extra Happy We No Longer Claim Waterproof Merely Water Resistant.  I may have just paraphrased there.  But the ones that come in the pink or yellow tubes.  Speaking of being water resistant, my cat is also water resistant.  She resists being in water in the most violent manner possible.

Anyway, we use Banana Boat because it’s cheap, it claims a high level of protection, and it claims to be tear free.  I have never had a problem before.  Well, other than it sometimes making greasy marks on clothes.  Or it getting in my eye – tear free my ass.  Or when it doesn’t want to rub in all the way and I have white marks in random places.  So, you know, no problems.  At least I didn’t set myself on fire with it like that guy in Massachusetts.

Well, the first time I used my Banana Boat sunscreen this year, I had a rash/angry red pimples on my face and chest fifteen minutes after application.  As any good scientist knows, correlation does not equal causation.  So I assumed that this was just a coincidence and the next time I was to be out in the sun, I used my Banana Boat sunscreen again.   The result repeated and I have the complexion of an unfortunate sixteen year old in the throws of a hormone induced pizzafest.

This prompted me to try some alternate sunscreen.  We had some Target Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Continuous spray laying around.  I tried it.  First, it’s so stinky it’s unbearable.  Secondly, I broke out on my face and chest again.

I decided I’d have to stop being cheap with my sunscreen and buy something specifically for my face.  I had read that Walgreen’s Continuous Spray Sport is considered to be relatively cheap and effective.  So I bought a bunch of this for my body and for my kids summer camp bags.  Then I bought Neutrogena Sport Face 70+ sunscreen for my face.  I spent $13 on this tiny-ass bottle and I still got a rash afterward.

At least it wasn’t stinky like the spray sunscreens.  All of them are really odorous.  Yuck.

Since the Neutrogena sunscreen didn’t solve my skin irritation problem, I decided I needed to try something else.  Alba sunscreen was on sale at my grocery store so I decided I’d try it.  I bought Alba Botanica Green Tea spf 40+ sunscreen.  I broke out.  Now I’m wondering to which ingredient I’ve developed a sensitivity.

As I am outside in the sun for at least an hour almost every day and I’m a pasty girl, sunscreen is a necessity.  I cannot handle the breakouts.  I’m in my upper 30s, the last thing I want to deal with is a face rash that looks like/is a bunch of pimples.   I know it’s vain, but I get really self conscious about it.

I started researching sunscreen.  The first thing I read was a Consumer Reports article summary about 2 sunscreens that failed the FDA-mandated ‘critical wave” test that is required for sunscreens to be labeled as broad spectrum sunscreen.  One was Banana Boat and the second was Alba!  What in the #$%^!?!?  How could I possibly unwittingly buy the only two sunscreens that don’t meet the broad spectrum protection criteria?  I have trusted Banana Boat to protect my children’s skin for years!!!  I have trusted Banana Boat to keep me from getting skin cancer, and more importantly, wrinkles.  And not only does it fail to do these things, it makes me break out too!  I should have just flushed the money I spent on sunscreen.  I would at least had the enjoyment of watching that many swirl around on the way down.

A closer read showed that the Alba sunscreen that I just bought was not the same one listed by Consumer Reports.  That’s a bit of relief.  In the same article summary, Consumer Reports listed 2 best buy sunscreens.  Walgreen’s Continuous Spray Sport as a best buy.  That made me feel good since I just bought a bunch.

I found this website from EWG, Environmental Working Group, that rates sunscreens based on their effectiveness and the toxicity/harmfulness of the ingredients.  I was thinking that perhaps a more natural sunscreen would help my problem.  I have really bad allergies to natural ingredients.  This summer has been one of the worst for the intensity of my allergic responses.  Perhaps it was a slight allergy or sensitivity that I always had but never noticed.  It could be that since the total allergens are high, my body is just reacting more strongly to everything to which I’m allergic.

The EWG website has a lot of good information, however, I wish one could search on each field of the rating.  You have to click on each sunscreen to see how effective it is at blocking UVA and UVB rays.   For no particular reason at all, I decided that, from the list of 2012 best suscreens, I wanted to try Livestrong sunscreen.   I went to Amazon to price it and wow is it expensive.  EWG lists it as one dollar sign, relatively cheap, but it’s over $15 for 3 ounces!!!!  That’s not cheap!  Then I read the reviews.  It may contain less known harmful chemicals, but I’ll pass.

I’ve decided, after much reading at EWG, much reading of customer reviews, and loads of price comparisons that I’m going to try Coppertone Sensitive Skin face for my face and Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple for the rest of me.  The Walgreen’s works really well for the children’s bodies but is also causing hives on my oldest’s face.  And my oldest is a lifeguard so being allergic to your sunscreen is problematic.  The Coppertone gets relatively good reviews for protection but not so good for harmful chemicals.  I can deal with that as long as it doesn’t make me break out.  Although, given a choice between breaking out and sun damage, I’ll take the break out.  I’m not quite that vain.

Wish me luck, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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