The One Where Robyn Buys Six Different Tubes of Sunscreen

Socially Responsible Living by Robyn Squyres

Usually around this time of year I rush out and buy sunscreen in bulk, and, on that front, this year hasn’t been much different. However, this is the first year that I’m attempting to swear off anything harmful to my health, the environment, or animals. And because I’m awful at making informed decisions, my quest for a good sunscreen has become so comically overblown I feel like I’m living in the B plotline of a 90’s sitcom. Which I recognize is a very specific place to feel like you’re living. 

Just a few words on how I came to eschew the above-mentioned items: 

On the health front: Most sunscreens contain Oxybenzone and Vitamin A, both of which, at this point, are considered to be hormonal disruptors. I understand that scientific opinion can be divided or even change from time to time (which reminds me, where did we land on eggs? Are we eating eggs again?) however, as someone who has a history of lady-cancer in her family, this is something I’m not taking chances on. (A usefularticle)

On the environment front: Did you know sunscreen can be toxic to the environment? This was news to me. It seems to me that if you’re mostly paddling around in pools with chemically treated water that will eventually wind up in a water treatment plant anyway, then this doesn’t seem like a huge deal. If, however, you’re swimming in places where things live --  lakes, oceans, rivers -- then this becomes more problematic. In fact, in many diving/snorkeling places, they won’t let you swim unless you have an approved sunscreen (A usefularticle)

On the animal front: As it turns out, animal testing does not involve putting sunscreen on bunnies and then sending them to the beach for the day to see if they burn. I’ll spare you the details.

So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to ditch theNo-Ad and try something new. Here are the sunscreens I tried out:

How to Choose Sunscreen

(From left to right): Kiss My Face Hydresia Mineral Sunscreen SPF 45; Badger Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 34; Jason Pure Natural Sun Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30; Babo Botanica Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30;  Alba Natural Very Emollient Sunscreen Sport  SPF 45; Beyond Coastal Active Facestick SPF 30

Since there’s so many facets to consider, I decide to average the price,EWG rating, and my general feelings about the product to find my favorite (yeah, it’s not an exact science).  Note: All prices are based off Amazon. Be aware that Amazon’s listed price-per-ounce quotes on many of these items were WAY off. I tried to get a more accurate number, but it’s me doing the math,’ve been warned.


Kiss My Face Hydresia Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 45

Price: $4.30/oz
EWG Rating: 1
Verdict: It takes a little longer to rub this in than I’m used to, and even then I’m still sporting that weirdo-who-doesn’t-realize-their-suncreen-isn’t-rubbed-in look, and it is a little chalky, but hey, if the tan-lines on my feet are any indication, this stuff works. 

Don’t act like you’re not jealous of my flip-flops lines


Jason Pure Natural Sun Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30 

Price per ounce: $2.24/oz
EWG Rating: 2 
Verdict: Quite honestly, I can’t tell the difference between this and the Kiss My Face, other than it being a lower SPF, which I don’t mind (and the slightly worse EWG rating). I find with a higher SPF I get cocky and don’t re-lather as often as I should, and the result is that the higher the SPF the more likely I am to burn. But I recognize not everyone has the same SPF hubris that I do.


Badger Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 34

Price: $5.17/oz
EWG Rating: 1
Verdict: I’ll be honest, I went into this already wanting Badger to be my favorite of the bunch, and it most certainly is. It’s easier to rub in than the most of the others, doesn’t leave as thick of a white film or the chalky residue of the mineral sunscreens. It also has the best EWG rating, is certified by Leaping Bunny, has a Natural Products Association seal, and is the only one of these sunscreens that’s approved for use near coral reefs. Plus: BADGER. 


But, it costs more than the others so….hm.


Alba Natural Very Emollient Sunscreen Sport, SPF 45

Price: $2.30/oz
EWG Rating: 5
Verdict: I mean, it’s…meh. Since it’s not mineral based it’s not chalky, but the EWG rating isn’t great, so I’m going to vote no. 


Babo Botanica Clear Zinc Sport Stick, SPF 30

Price: $10.38/stick
EWG Rating: This brand is not rated by the EWG, however I checked the ingredient list and neither Oxybenzone nor Vitamin A is listed. 
Verdict: I like to always keep at least a little sunscreen in my purse, and after dealing with a few spills I find a stick works best. Other people may not have this same problem, but I’ve found that, living in Austin, you’re better off always keeping sunscreen, a bottle of water, and an alternate pair of shoes on your person. 


Beyond Coastal Active Facestick, SPF 30

Price: $6.38/stick
EWG Rating: 2
Verdict: This thing was turned out to be wayyyy smaller than I thought it would be, but even being smaller than I thought it’s still a better deal than the Babo stick. 


Final ruling: I think I’m going to go with the Kiss My Face for now. Jason won on the price front, but at the time that I’m writing this I can no longer find this particular kind of sunscreen for what I paid for it, so that price might have been a fluke. Honestly, all of these are pretty good and I would buy them again (well, probably not the Alba).  And there are plenty of ways to avoid paying sticker price for sunscreen: there are various online drug stores that offer competitive prices, you can try buying from the company’s website using coupons, and Amazon offers several brands in bulk for a discount, which is handy if you find something you like. 

I admit, I’m sad to say no to the Badger. If I lived in another world where this was the only viable option –say, if it was either toxic, earth-murdering sunscreen or Badger -- then I would totally buy Badger. But as this post clearly illustrates, we have options. For everyday use, I think Kiss My Face works best for me, price and functionality wise. I’ll probably save my pricey tube of badger for more specific occasions, like when I’m at the lake or floating the river.

Now, who’s up for a trip to the beach? I’ll bring the sunscreen. Because I have a lot of it now.

- R.S.


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