June 12, 2012

What is a (poor) ginger to do?

Israelis love their beach time.

I found an interesting article today about something that has really been on my mind since the advent of beach season- sunscreen prices in Israel.

Now, the cost of living in Tel Aviv is comparable to Boston, but the average Israeli salary is significantly lower. This creates a really difficult scenario for people who live here who are trying to make ends meet. The economics of Israeli society are very complicated, and I may go more in-depth at a later time, but I want to talk sunscreen for right now.

Many things here (coffee, produce, etc) are generally more expensive than they are in the US, although I am a firm believer that if you look hard enough you can live on the cheap almost anywhere. However, I have shopped around for sunscreen here, and the prices are insane. I never really paid attention back home to how much sunscreen costs at CVS or Walgreens or Target, but looking online I can see it hovers somewhere between $7-$10. Here in Tel Aviv? At our equivalent of Walgreens (its called AM-PM), a bottle of sunscreen costs...brace yourself...110 shekel. For those of you not familiar with conversion rates, that's $30!


I've accepted easily the idea that some things here cost more than they would in the US- specific brands might not be as readily available, import taxes, lack of market competition...etc. But sunscreen? This is a Mediterranean country! I've also noticed that a lot of Israelis I spend time with don't really notice or care because they just don't use sunscreen. They're not as fairly complected as I, that is true, but the article I referenced above should be some sort of a wake up call- the Israeli population is displaying extremely high rates of skin cancer.

So high, in fact, that the ministry of health is now demanding sunscreen manufacturers lower their prices or face government intrusion into the market to force prices down. Either way, I hope it happens. I've dealt with a few really terrible sunburn experiences in my life, and I'm not looking to repeat them. But I also don't want to go broke preventing them. Oh wait, I'm already broke. Shoot.

Read the article- it's interesting, I promise.


Bridget said...

don't i remember some wicked bad sunburn you had on your calves a couple years ago or am i making this up??

and yeah. sunscreen is crazy over there. i'm pretty sure europe's prices are crazy too. steve and i were stupid and left our sunscreen in orvieto when we went to cinque terre. bought some for like $20. WHAT.

the Ginger said...

You're not making that up- it was the legendary Puerto Rico burn of Spring 09...couldnt walk for 4 days. the doctors said it was as though my skin was burnt by boiling water or fire.

When I get back in August I'm bringing a whole suitcase of reasonably priced sunscreen home to Israel.