Is Sunscreen Safe? And Is Safe Sunscreen Affordable?

Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, executive director of Women for a Healthy Environment talks about potential dangers of sunscreen ingredients and pending federal regulation with The Allegheny Front's Jennifer Szweda Jordan. Then, Estelle Tran reports on her visit to Pittsburgh-area stores to check out the accessibility and cost of the Environmental Working Group's recommended sunscreens. She found that, often, you get what you pay for. (Check out link below for more data from Estelle's shopping trip.)

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OPEN: The Allegheny Front's Estelle Tran visited some Pittsburgh-area stores to check out the accessibility and cost of the Environmental Working Group's recommended sunscreens. She found that often, you get what you pay for.

TRAN: The Environmental Working Group--or EWG--ranked sunscreens on a scale up to 10, based on how well they work, and potential health risks. A zero is the best rating. The EWG says people should use one ounce of sunscreen per application. For families, or for college students like me on a budget, that can add up.

I took a few shopping trips around Pittsburgh this month and checked out how much it costs to buy the recommended brands. In Pittsburgh, Whole Foods Market carries some of what EWG considers the best lines, including Badger, Nature's Gate and California Baby. Whole Foods recently was selling Caribbean Solutions Faces Only Sunscreen, which EWG recommends buying, for four-dollars-and-25-cents per ounce. One of the best-rated and most expensive of the bunch at Whole Foods is California Baby, which retails for seven-58 an ounce. At the other end of the scale, EWG says to avoid many of the sport sunscreens products sold under the popular label "No-Ad." One of those retails for about 50 cents an ounce on drugstore-dot-com.

EWG analyst Nneka Leiba, says it's often the case that the better the recommendation, the more costly the product.

LEIBA: Unfortunately, we have found that a number of the products that we looked at that were less hazardous were coming from smaller, environmentally friendly companies. And because of the size of the companies, they may sell products that are a little bit more expensive.

TRAN: Even so, many lower-cost options can be found in Rite Aid, CVS and Giant Eagle stores. Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple scores as a three, and costs about one-35 per ounce at Rite Aid, CVS and Giant Eagle. It received excellent ratings in UVA and UVB protection. I bought my first EWG-recommended sunscreen recently. The three-ounce bottle of "All-Terrain" brand sunscreen costs $10 at the Pittsburgh environmental retailer the E-House. The sticker shock was enough to make me consider investing in a floppy sunhat.

For the Allegheny Front, I'm Estelle Tran.