Sunscreen Battles Heat Up at Home

Eli and Ben sunscreenMy wife and I exchanged stink eyes recently over, of all things, sunscreen.

We’ve been in a fight-free streak for some time, and this particular squabble didn’t last long. Still, it made me crank up the Google to see what I could see on the subject. Turns out sunscreen isn’t as simply as picking a very high SPF number and assuming you’ll be protected.

Summer time is fraught with bad vibes in our family. I spent my youth peeling burned skin from my pale torso, memories that linger since I lost my brother-in-law a few years back to skin cancer. We’re trying to do everything possible to save our sons from the ravages of the sun. But how?

When it comes to health matters, my wife is a voracious researcher. She checks out new studies, health blogs … whatever she can find on eating the right foods, using the best hygiene products and assessing ways we all can stay healthy.

I eat Big Macs.

Suffice to say we’re not always on the same page on the health front. She’s an alarmist, or so I think. If sugary sodas were as bad as they say I’d be featured on one of those TLC specials about the morbidly obese.

Having kids is changing my thinking about what I put in – and on – my body. Not only do I want the best for my kids, I want to stick around as long as possible to watch ’em grow.

Back to Google. I found out that the sunscreen sprays I adore can be harmful if you breathe them in. And, for anyone who has ever tried these sprays, it’s hard to avoid a lungful during the application process. I also discovered that the chemical Oxybenzone has some troubling headlines attached to it, and it’s a fairly common element in many sunblocks.

Heck, little ol’ Vitamin A has been targeted as a possible risk factor in a recent study, although the results hardly appear conclusive.

The safest, or what I clumsily call the “hippiest” sunscreen products are often a chore to apply. They require endless rubbing to make their gooey white finish disappear. That’s what sparked our recent “stink eye” showdown.

Sunscreen products featuring micronized zinc oxide sounded like the best best for me so far. They apply without that milky finish and appear safer than other creams or sprays. Or so the labels say. I don’t want to take any chances with my children regarding the sun, so I ordered what appeared to be a safe sunscreen with this chemical from Amazon Prime.

Just doing the research on the subject earned a glowing look and hug from the Missus. That beats getting the stink eye any day of the week.

How do you navigate the web of information about sunscreens? Any tips you can share to keep our collective skin safe and our children safer?

NOTE: The Environmental Working Group has a comprehensive site with its recommendations for the safest sunscreens around.

UPDATE: Ended up buying Solar Sense Clear Zinc sunscreen SPF 50+. Suffice to say I now have a promising career as a mime. All those Amazon user reviews swearing it’s easy to apply didn’t mention the white coat I’d wear as a result.


  1. beth trapani says

    EWG… Environmental Working Group… has a big section just on sunscreen. Far too liberal for you, but good health info, I believe!

  2. Christian says

    Funny you mention the liberal label … what a shame that science has been corrupted in recent years (maybe longer) and that we have to consider ideology when determining what’s best for our families.

  3. Susan austin says

    Vitamin D they get from some plain old no sunscreen sun time is also very important to your health. Look into it and you’ll find that low levels of vitamin d are linked to cancer and many other unwanted conditions!

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