summer son

26 Jul

Has anyone gone shopping for sunblock lately? Specifically for sunblock for their baby? I am the fairest of the fair — and I don’t mean pretty. I am white. White as white can be. If my skin were smoother, some might call it porcelain, but really, I’m just pale. Some of this is by design; I have embraced my skin color and decided to allow it to remain in its natural state rather than burn it repeatedly into a tan (that, let’s be honest, probably would never get past the pink stage anyway). My best friend recently gifted me the most beautiful sunhat with the widest imaginable brim and I enjoy wearing it so immensely that I’ve been trying to figure out how to pack it for our upcoming vacation though such a thing would be entirely impractical (stuff socks in it? I don’t wear socks, though). George has sunhats and a sunshade for his stroller, which, in addition to the already kind of huge sunshade that came on said stroller, keeps him nice and shady. But. That sun, man. He sneaks in through cracks and past fabric to burn you. My kid’s first sunburn is not going to be at the hands of a lazy mother, but at a baseball game when he’s 8 that I am unable to attend for some reason during which he doesn’t REAPPLY like I will be instructing him from now until then.

So, I am in the curious predicament of having read the Environmental Working Group’s sunscreen guide and still needing to purchase some sunscreen. Even the highest-rated products include warnings about organ system toxicity and neurotoxicity and contamination concerns, bioaccumulation…I don’t think I need to mention that the list goes on. I also don’t know if I need to, but will mention that we cannot exactly afford $20 for less than two ounces of sunscreen, which is the going rate for the sort that won’t, you know, KILL YOU SLOWLY.
Nathan and I were talking this over in the car, and though I think this is a little hyperbolic, I compared the situation thusly: what if antibiotics were poisonous? Not, like, super duper kill you right away poisonous, but if they had more negative effects on your health than positive effects, while only being marginally effective for their stated purpose. Because this is exactly the case with most sunblocks sold in the US. They don’t offer broad spectrum UV coverage and they have the NASTIEST SHIT in them. I’m referring to chemicals, not even, say, the mink oil in the Mustela crap that we bought and promptly returned today.
What this comes down to, what bums me out SO intensely that I have to keep using capital letters, is that, with the exception of ONE Johnson & Johnson product that is rated with a mere “moderate” health concern, none of the acceptable sunblocks are affordable (read: less than $15) or offered by well-known, mainstream companies. What this means to me is that poor people are once again getting the shaft, because they are assumed to be uninformed. Worse, are they also assumed to be so value-less that their health isn’t even a consideration? How much money have these companies made peddling ineffective, harmful products to people who are simply trying to protect their children?
I have a love/hate relationship with the cosmetics database, the website on which the EWG catalogues the safety of pretty much every cosmetic available in the US. I love it for making me a knowledgable consumer, but I hate how few options I’m left with after trolling it for even a few minutes every couple of months. Diorshow mascara, you’re incredible, but my eyelashes and I have left you to languish in your own immunotoxicity. Lorac tinted moisturizer, damn, you were non-greasy and just the right color, but my reproductive organs aren’t quite finished working. And this brings me to what really gets my goat about sunblock. It’s not what I consider to be a “cosmetic,” as in, something you use out of vanity. It’s a product meant to maintain our health. To protect us from something almost unavoidable. It’s our body’s last bastion once clothing, beautiful best friend hats and the indoors have failed. It shouldn’t hurt us while claiming to help.

ps. California Baby sunblock rules.


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