Sunscreen. The white gold of summertime. When I was single, I never worried about the cost of sunscreen, but now that I have six fair bodies that need to be slathered in sunscreen as we swim at least a few times every week this summer, it’s a different story.
With my (and my kids’) fair complexion, sunscreen is a must. Twice I’ve had bad second degree burns. As a child I remember the painful blisters covering my shoulders and the way my shirt stuck to them as the blisters eventually broke.
Then again in college, I spent a day on the beach in San Diego with friends (and without sunscreen). Seeing me in pain and blistered the next morning, my friends insisted on taking me to the ER. I told my friends there was nothing the hospital could do for me, but they thought I was just being too cheap to take care of myself. As expected, there was nothing they could do for me (and yes, the getting the out-of-network provider bill straightened out was a major headache for my dad).
So the long and short of it is that sunscreen is important. But it is also expensive. Here are my best tips to save money on sunscreen!
Stock Up at the End-of-Season
Along with other summer-specific merchandise, sunscreen goes on sale near the end of the summer. I’ve found great deals at drugstores, Target, Walmart, and other stores. Be sure to check the expiration date though. The ingredients in sunscreen do break down over time and become ineffective. You definitely don’t want to waste your money stocking up on sunscreen that won’t do the job. I’ve found that buying a season ahead works perfectly though.
You can find coupons for both name brand and store brand sunscreens. Just keep your eyes peeled for sunscreen coupons. In fact, if you watch the coupon expiration dates carefully, you can often combine them with end-of-season sales to save even more! Oh, and if you’re using a cashback app (Ibotta is my fav), you can get a cashback rebate on top of the coupon (and possible sale price). If you’re savvy, you can get great deals this way!
Do Your Research
A great way to waste money is to spend it on products that don’t do what you want them to or that you don’t know how to use properly. I love the convenience of spray sunscreens, but’s I’ve been skeptical about their effectiveness. As I researched, I found that spray sunscreen can be effective, but only if applied properly (which most people don’t do). Each area needs to be sprayed for 6 seconds in order to be as effective as the SPF says it will be. You should see white on your skin when you spray. In my people-watching experience, most folks don’t do it properly. Most people just do a 1-2 second mist over their body, which isn’t very effective.
If you’re the kind of person that likes to lay out and bake in the sun, you’re not going to like this tip, but honestly it’s my favorite one! Obviously, the more skin exposed, the more sunscreen required to protect your skin. Reducing the amount of exposed skin can go a long way to saving in sunscreen costs, not to mention all the effects of sun exposure.
Three years ago, I found a great after-season clearance at LandsEnd on swimsuits with matching rash guard tops which had built-in SPF. I gave them to my kids for Christmas . I know, what kind of crazy mom gives her kids swimsuits in December? Honestly, it was a gift to myself! I get so tired of lathering everyone up with sunscreen every time we swim. Everyone wants to jump in the water when we get to the pool or the beach or the river, not wait in line for mom to carefully cover every inch of skin with sunscreen.
What’s worse than applying sunscreen to the anxious swimmers, is putting it on myself. I inevitably miss a spot and end up getting a weird burn in some hard-to-reach place. Even when I get help, I don’t always get a complete cover. Since we’re spending lots of time swimming this year, I even got myself a new swim top this year! Buying rash guards with SPF was a great investment!
However you manage to stay protected from the sun, make sure you do it! Take care of your body– you’ve only got one! Dealing with the immediate consequences (burns) and long-term consequences (cancer) of sun exposure aren’t worth going without sunscreen just because it’s expensive. You can protect yourself from the sun without spending a fortune!
How about you?
- What’s your take on sunscreen?
- What tips can you share about staying protected from the sun or saving money on sunscreen?