A few weeks ago I made the unfortunate discovery that the very thing I was using to protect myself from skin cancer was putting me at risk for other kinds of cancer.

The sunscreen routine I’d finally mastered to protect my fair, sunburn-prone skin, was suddenly obsolete. My hunt for a safe sunscreen had begun.

neutrogena sunscreen

Safer Sunscreens

After thoroughly scouring the EWG’s Skin Deep site, I came up with a list of the lesser-evil sunscreens to try.

list of safe sunscreens to use

Of course, as things would have it, a majority of those “best” sunscreens were ridiculously expensive and had to be ordered online instead of being scooped up at my local Target. When you go through as much sunscreen as I do, $12 for 3 oz of sunscreen ads up. {Let’s not even talk abut the $30+ ones.}

coola sunscreen pricesthinkBaby sunscreen buy onlinecalifornia baby sunscreen

I finally found ONE sunscreen that was available at Target and was normally priced as far as sunscreen goes, so I picked it up for a test run.

Coppertone Sensitive Skin Sunscreen

coppertone sensitive skin sunscreen

The Sunscreen Verdict

Turns out, this sunscreen is everything that makes you hate sunscreen as a kid. It’s near impossible to rub in, it doesn’t spread well, it’s sticky, and it smells. It turns everything- skin, bathing suit, anything you touch- white.

But, it works. Really well. It’s main ingredient is zinc oxide, which sits on top of your skin, which means you don’t absorb as many of those nasty chemicals. And think big white sunscreen lifeguard noses- that stuff does it’s job, it’s just a pain in the butt.

zinc oxide on nose of lifeguard

I’ll be honest. Sometimes you just have to balance knowledge and health with practicality. This sunscreen is so hard to put on, it’s easy to miss a spot, and it’s likely you’d rather skip the effort of putting it on and just burn. I’ve been compromising and putting the thick, zinc oxide based sunscreen on before I leave the house, then touching up with my trusty Neutrogena spray sunscreen.

You just can’t beat convenience, and I can make sure every inch of me is covered even in the middle of the lake or when I’m sandy on the beach. Half way through the day, I go through the ordeal of the heavy lotion sunscreen again. And I have to say, after many full, long days on the lake without the luxury of an umbrella or shade of any kind, I’m sunburn free. And still pale. But at least my skin’s healthy.

{Just FYI, ALL the spray sunscreens rank high on the EWG scale- they have the same hazardous ingredients in them, but since they’re airborne, you can inhale them, making them even more risky than the ones that soak into your skin. I was highly disappointed to learn this.}

Daily SPF

Another sunscreen obstacle is the daily moisturizer. It’s pretty easy to find a face lotion with SPF in it. Not so much with body lotion. I finally found a bottle of everyday lotion with SPF 15 in it last year. Only I never, ever wore it because it smelled so horribly of sunscreen. If I want to smell like sunscreen, I”ll wear sunscreen.

Recently I was sent some samples of lotion from Eucerin: a daily moisturizer with SPF 15, and a daily facial moisturizer with SPF 30. I go through Aquaphor by the tube, so I was hoping the lotion would be as satisfying.

eucerin everyday protection lotion with spf

As far as moisturizing, the body lotion is great- it’s thick, soaks in quickly, and really helps my dry, sun-exposed skin. But, it still smells faintly of sunscreen. I’d be happy to wear this going for a bike run {in non-peak sun hours}, but I probably wouldn’t put it on just for the sake of putting it on. I’ve actually been using it as an after sun lotion- not for the sun protection but for the moisturizer. The lotion ranks at a 5, making it better than some of the aerosol sunscreens, but not as good as some of the safest sunscreens.

ewg skin deep sunscreen safety ratings

The face lotion I like a little better- it’s lightweight and soaks in without leaving my face greasy. They’ll both be making the trip to the beach with me this year, but I’m not sure they’ll become part of my everyday routine when it’s not sunny. Mostly because I’ve never stuck with an everyday routine of anything…especially putting lotion on. Winking smile


Bottom line, I’m still on the hunt for the perfect sunscreen, but at least I’m doing better than before. Baby steps, right?


What kind of sunscreen do you use? Do you use a daily moisturizer with SPF?