Sunscreen: Why Must You Suck So?

Well, some people like it.

So summer has begun, and as is traditional this time of year, medical experts put on their stern frowny faces and shake their fingers and very solemnly warn us: Wear Sunscreen! And don't forget to use buckets and buckets of it and reapply every ten minutes! If you don't you'll get cancer and die!

And the beauty experts chime in too: Wear sunscreen because even worse than dying of skin cancer, if you're a woman: you'll end up with a wrinkly face and no one will find you attractive anymore! You'll look OLD, the worst sin you can think of!

While at the same time, scary research studies circulate and advocacy groups tell us: Wait a minute, watch out! The weird chemicals they put in sunscreen makes carcinogenic and it will mess with your endocrine system and who knows what might happen if you give it a few years?


Instead, they say, you should try some Natural Alternative that may not work very well and will turn you all chalky white and freakish-looking five minutes after you apply it.  That's been my experience so far.  But no worries, you probably won't be able to find any of our recommended brands in the grocery store anyway!


A few helpful links? And lots more gripes? Sure, why not!

More Reasons Sunscreen Is Evil

How about the fact that the easiest and best way to get lots of Vitamin D is through sunshine, which is blocked by sunscreen? As it happens, scientists have determined that Vitamin D deficiency is responsible for every medical and mental problem in the history of the world, from multiple sclerosis to Facebook addiction.

And sunscreen is expensive!

Also, it stings when it gets in your eyes!

Plus it's sticky and icky and messy! Especially when you're trying to get the last bit out of the tube and it takes forever and you keep squeezing and squeezing and then all of a sudden a big glop explodes out with a gross wet farting sound and it ends up all over your shirt.

OK, yeah, so talk about your ultimate "first world problem:" worrying that someone mistook your comically clumsy sunscreen application for a digestive problem.

So how do you guys handle this? This year, I'm taking a slightly different approach...

Yep, that would be the illogical, screw-it, I'm tired of thinking about it, I'm gonna do what I whatever I feel like approach.

In fact, this summer I'm listening a little more to the Primal/Paleo folks who shun sunscreen, because I find their arguments against sunscreen extremely convincing convenient!

(In truth I don't really care if our ancient ancestors got a whole crapload of sun and did just fine...because the average cave-person didn't live long enough to worry about skin cancer and wrinkles. But if I do decide to skip the 'screen every now and then, I love having some smarty pants primal folks saying it's ok).

My plan, if you can call it that:

1.  I will stick with the brand of sunscreen I already bought at Costco (which many dermatolgists recommend), even though it may be full of weird creepy chemicals, but will check out alternatives again once those run out to see if any of the natural brands suck less than they used to.

2.  I will continue to eat lots of health fruits and veggies and other whole foods to boost my body's ability to tolerate sun exposure.

3. I will apply sunscreen on my face if I'm going to be outside for more than a couple minutes or hanging out near sunny windows.  This picture of a truck driver who got sun only on one side of his face does serve as a reminder of the possible aesthetic impact of prolonged sun exposure:

4.  But I will most certainly forget to reapply unless I'm out for a really long time.

5.  I will curse mightily and slather sunscreen all over my body and my clothes and swimsuit if I'm going outside between 10 and 2pm for any length of time.

6. And if I'll be out biking or walking for more than a half hour or so and it is before 10 am or from 2-5ish, I will apply sunscreen half-heartedly to bodily surfaces that may end up horizontally oriented (shoulders, tops of arms, chest,back of neck, thighs, sandaled feet).

7. But if I'm going outside for less than half an hour during nonpeak sun hours, screw it.  What's the worst that could happen?

And yes, I know this all probably sounds completely looney-tunes.  Care to talk me out of it in the comments?

More Sunscreen Info:

  • Scary sunscreen ingredient information, warning against oxybenzone in particular, can be found at the EWG website,and they've got a huge index of good and bad brands. At CNN you can find a more mainstream take on the sunscreen ingredient controversy.
  • Blisstree has an article that takes a closer look at some of the best natural sunscreens
  • And Jane Brody at the NY Times has a PSA on making sure to slather sunscreen on your kids;
  • While the Primal approach to sun protection can be found over at Mark's Daily Apple.

Photo credits: Sunscreen face guy swiped from here; Phil Noto Namor comic found here; Ostrich here; blisstree had the scary truck driver, and hey, you can buy your own mutant twin brother here!

Got any more sensible ideas on how to deal with sunscreen hassles?

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