I use a lot of sunscreen. If I'm outside for more than 20 minutes without it, I end up looking like a 50/50 bar. Burned calves, burned neck or burned head if I forget to wear my hat. It's a social problem, since sunscreen is either greasy or spray-on lacquer that isn't very becoming in public. Lucky for me I don't spend a lot of time outside in situations where I'm wearing regular clothes. In those cases, I'm the first one to find the shade tree.
I have adopted the nickname Caucasian Man, given my fine white complexion and continual war with the sun. Caucasian Man has few superpowers. Forgetfulness and anxiety if I go outside without my sunscreen are two of them. Not exactly the stuff of comic books, but I'm more the blog type.
Sunscreen is one of the last high-end personal use products that we buy. I just bought a 5 ounce can of CVS brand Cooling mist SPF 45 that cost me eight bucks. They can charge eight bucks because they know that we know we need this stuff. Nevertheless, there are two odd things about paying eight bucks for sunscreen:
First, it doesn't matter if it's SPF 2 or SPF 50; the price is the same. Wouldn't you think that the price would at least be partially dependant on the level of protection? I would expect to pay half for SPF 15 that I paid for for SPF 45, but no. The price is totally determined by the size of the container.
Second, the sunscreen technology is very old. It isn't like the 1960s when all we had was Coppertone - SPF 0 with cocoa butter - stuff you could pan-fry a steak in; and it washed off like soap as soon as we ran into the water. At least this new stuff lasts through a 60-mile bike ride without re-applying. The downside is that I have to scrub with a brush to get the crap off me in the shower afterward, and I bring home every bug and piece of road dirt that sticks to my arms and legs. Anyway, you would think that the price would have come down like it has for CD players and cell phones. Nope. Eight bucks. Pay it or burn, white boy.
They tell us we need it, and damned if they aren't right. A half hour without it (sometimes in defiance - as though my mental state determines the level of UV radiation) and I wish I had coughed up the eight bucks, since future melanoma-head is not a reasonable exchange for the price of sunscreen today.
For eight bucks, I'm expecting the list of ingredients to include platinum dust or a secret code for a free blow-job, but no. The list of active ingredients is pretty short:
Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene and Oxybenzone
They could have put Oxymoron on the list and I wouldn't know what in Hell that was, either. It's amazing that it works at all. Spray some chemicals on your skin and you can stay outside for as long as you want without burning. There is also list of inactive ingredients. Do we really need inactive ingredients? For eight bucks, I don't want anything in the can that isn't doing something.
When I bought it, the CVS kid put it in a bag. A bag. I only bought the sunscreen. I didn't need a bag to bring it to the counter, what made him think I would need one to carry it home? Maybe the can is susceptible to sunlight? Before I could think or stop him, I was walking out with the can in my little plastic bag, wondering what the heck I was doing. Caucasian Man is funny that way.
I noticed that one of the warnings on the can says: Do not use near heat. That's a bit odd for something that is designed to be used in direct sunlight. I hope I don't spontaneously burst into flames. That would be ironic.
Tomorrow, around noon I'll be thanking the CVS people for making such a wonderful product and only charging me eight bucks - when they could have charged me twice that and I would have paid it for the sake of a case of sunburn.
Don't tell them I said that.