Thursday, August 28, 2008

Safer Sun

Next on our list:  greening our HBA.

Health and beauty products are going to be a challenge.  My inner cheapskate is adept at sourcing coupons and searching sales to score Pantene, Secret and Suave half-off.  Sometimes better.  And oh golly, do I stockpile!

Concerns about chemicals are part of my motivation, but I'm also influenced by a few other considerations.  The greener the company, the more likely that the packaging is recyclable and/or contains post-consumer materials.  (I'm not looking at my sunscreen, but I believe the tube is around 25% post-consumer content.)  Spending my dollars on a more eco-friendly product is also my way of voting on what ought to exist in the world - in some ways, my purchasing power is the strongest muscle I've got to flex.

So when we finally worked through our backstock of sunscreen whilst at the beach a few days ago - but still needed some for the last gasp of summer - I spent about ten minutes in Target, debating.  The $8 Coppertone or the $15 Burt's Bees?

This time my inner Greene beat out frugal Fern, and we tried it.

The most important thing?  Neither Freddie nor I have a tinge of red on our fair skin, even after a long day splashing in the water and doing all the other crazy things that a preschooler gets up to in the late August sun.

It's a little thicker and trickier to spread than our previous products.  And it's yellow - something that amused Freddie.  The smell is divine, however, and the fact that it's chemical free?  I felt perfectly confident slathering it on us both.

While the Cosmetics Safety Database gives the product a 3 out of 10 - moderate hazard - it was by far the best choice available locally.  California Baby and Trukid both make slightly safer alternatives that earn a "Recommended" green light.

It's worth noting that not every higher-end product receives a better rating.  While the CVS brand that we were using scored a dismal 7 out of 10, as did our Coppertone, a few widely available brands - like Sea & Ski - came out well in the ratings, even though I don't think of them as particularly green.

Maybe best of all?  When I was re-applying the "yeltow" sunscreen to Freddie, another mom took note and asked me about my choice.

So while Burt's Bees sunscreen could be a smidge safer - apparently, it's that delightful, added fragrance that raises the danger level - it gets a thumbs up from me.  And the fact that I can buy it right down the street?  Total bonus.

Now if I could only work through all those bottles of Pantene ... 

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