Which should you spend more on – sunscreen or sunglasses?

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Summer – carefree and whimsical, free and easy!

Okay, not so free. Summer brings some expenses with it. There’s travel to the beach or the lake, a good bathing suit or three, a great-looking towel. It adds up.

But one thing you don’t want to stint on is protection from the sun. That means investing in a high-SPF sunscreen and a UV400-protective pair of shades.

How much should you spend?

Sunscreen can run you anywhere from $7 to $50 and up. If you’ve been slathering up for many years, you likely have a favorite brand or two, or you can check this handy list of well-reviewed products. 


Over the course of a summer, you probably go through at least two bottles of sunscreen—more if you have kids. And then there’s all that sunscreen that mysteriously gets lost at the beach, especially when you’re sharing it around. Add it up and your total sunscreen expenditure can top $200, depending on your brand choices.

So why do we spend that without hesitation and still stint on sunglasses?

Simply put, sunglasses are sunscreen for the eyes. They’re just as much a safety consideration, but sometimes sunbathers don’t take eye protection seriously.


  • When you get a sunburn, there’s pain, not to mention the Look of the Lobster. But unless you get an extreme eye sunburn, called photokeratitis, you may go symptom-free. That doesn’t mean damage hasn’t occurred.
  • The main risks of skipping eye protection take a long time to show up. Years may go by before a sun worshipper experiences cataracts, pterygium (a white growth on the surface of the eye) or squamous cell carcinoma of the eye. Diagnosis only comes after many years of unprotected exposure.
  • Next to a bottle of $7 sunscreen, sunglasses seem expensive. But if you’ve been thinking this way, we’re here to put a new lens on the subject.

More cost-effective than sunscreen

  • UV400-protective sunglasses are remarkably affordable. Studies show that even the cheapest sunglasses deliver on UV protection. But be sure to check the label; it should say UV400.
  • A pair of sunglasses will last years, depending on level of use—i.e., how tough you are on them. If you suspect that their UV400 protection is decreasing, you can have them tested at any optometrist.
  • Typically we buy one bottle of sunscreen at a time, as we need it. So it doesn’t seem like much money. But consider a summer’s worth of sunscreen. Next to that a pair of sunglasses is very reasonable.


It’s not either/or

Sunscreen and sunglasses are both important shields against the sun that allow you to enjoy more summer, more safely. Remember to pack both in your beach bag!


So how are you allocating your summertime budget? If you haven’t made your picks for this season yet, check out our new selections for men and women plus our line of sportswear for your eyes.

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