Over the years we have had it drilled into our brains that too much sun exposure is bad for us. Sun bathing? Bad, gives you cancer. Tanning? Way bad, gives you cancer and makes you look like a saddle bag by the time you are 30. We have also heard throughout our lives that that the best way to protect our skin and health is to lather ourselves in sunscreen every day, frequently. The American Cancer Society has stated that 80% of our total lifetime sun exposure occurs within the first 18 years of life. This means that children in particular are at risk and that by the time an individual become cognizant of the damage they may be doing due to sun exposure, it is too late. Perhaps this is why children are probably the most likely to be to be smothered in sunscreens by well meaning parents. All that slathering though may be of concern as well. What exactly is in sunscreen? Is it helpful or harmful?
Let’s be real. Protection from the sun is very important but the chemicals we put on our skin can be harmful, especially to our children and that means we need to be concerned about what is in these sunscreens we are putting on ourselves and our children throughout our lives. Typical sunscreens have LOTS of chemicals. Many of those chemical ingredients are pretty nasty. The skin care industry has had to increase the level of chemical compounds in sunscreen in order to raise the sun protection factor (SPF). These compounds soak into the skin.
Upon absorption into the skin, sunscreen can actually form the very dangerous compounds it was meant to block. Researchers found that some commonly used ultraviolet (UV) filters actually soak into the skin’s layers and from there can generate harmful components called reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are substances that can cause skin cancer. Cancer from the product meant to protect from cancer? Yikes.
In addition to the cancer risk, many sunscreen chemicals also have estrogen-like effects. Estrogen is a hormone that affects many aspects of the female body development and functions. Too much exposure to toxic estrogenic chemical sunscreens can increase cancers and cause birth defects in children. Children’s organs are more sensitive to estrogen exposure and can develop abnormalities at their early stages (including embryo, fetus and toddler stages) if exposed. Estrogen mimicking chemicals can also cause other conditions such as fibroids, miscarriage, breast cancer, man-boobs in boys and men, thyroid problems, diabetes, etc. Here are some of the common sunscreen ingredients and their associated “issues”.
So what do we NEED to know before we buy sunscreen so that we can stay safe from the harmful effects of too much sun exposure AND the harmful effects of conventional toxic laden sunscreen products? Here are three tips…
Sun Smarts Come Before Sunscreen
Before we reach for a bottle of sunscreen we need to use our noggin and think about ways we can minimize harmful exposure. Sunscreen will always have a place but we can use less of it if we also utilize sun hats, coverups, wraps, scarves, shade umbrellas, and shades areas outdoors. We can’t forget that sun exposure is a GOOD thing. We need sunlight exposure for good health so I will rarely apply sunblock to myself or my kids unless we are going to be in the sun for a prolonged length of time. Otherwise I just let them get some sun and/or use protective clothing to diminish risk. So for a few hours at the zoo…not likely to use it but I will have hats and sunglasses for them and we will be mindful to seek out some shade when we need it. But for an all day trip to the beach…yes I will bring some sunscreen.
Sun Protection Can Be Enhanced By Diet
Good health comes from eating healthy foods. A diet rich in processed foods, grains and sugar will not provide our bodies with the building blocks needed to regenerate healthy tissues, organs, and skin. Sun exposure on a junk food diet is surely going to result in burns and skin damage because the skin just isn’t healthy and resilient the way it is meant to be. We need to be eating foods that give us all the best building materials for healthy cells and skin. This includes lots of saturated fats (yay for coconut oil!), foods rich in omega 3s (fish!), nutrient dense foods like eggs and organ meats, and lots of leafy greens. Summer is also a great time to supplement with cod liver oil, fermented butter oil, vitamin D3, and Vitamin C.
Choose Safer Sunscreens
Avoid the sunscreen isles at drug stores, it’s pretty much all crap. I highly recommend checking out the EWG Skin Deep database for suncreen ratings. All the ones you grew up with are likely on the naughty list but there are several companies make good sunscreen products nowadays. One company that rates very well is Goddess Garden Organics sunscreens. A quick search of the database reveals that most of their sunscreens rate as a one. The lower the number the better and there is no zero, so an excellent rating. Compare the unsavory ingredients list pictured above to the one below with the ingredients found in Goddess Garden sunscreens. It is very refreshing!
I have been using three of their products in my own home for awhile now. I have the Lavender Mint Daily Lotion (SPF 15), the Sunny Face natural sunscreen (SPF 30), and the Sunny Kids Sport Spray (SPF 30). The continuous spray is the only mineral sunscreen in a spray on the market. Additionally, the facial sunscreen is one of two sunscreens on the market with Immortelle Essential Oil, and anti-aging element that evens out skin complexion and makes your skin look more radiant. Both of these aspects make the products pretty special.
Lots of people love to use continuous spray sunscreens because they are so much easier to apply than lotions, especially where wiggly kids are concerned and when multiple applications will be needed throughout the day. Facial sunscreens are often used to protect our facial skin from the signs of aging and skin damage so one that actually helps improve your complexion while it protects it is awesome. Goddess Garden Organics has a full line-up of sunscreen products for every need. I love the Lavender Mint daily lotion. It is perfect for applying when you will be out for shorter periods of time… a 5K, a hike on your favorite trail, a trip to the zoo, etc.
They are high quality, they work, and they are safe. I feel good using these products on myself and my kids. A safer sunscreen is just one part of a three part plan to stay safe in the sun but it is an essential part and these sunscreens have us covered…literally.
Goddess Garden Organics provided products for this review. All opinions are my own.
Deodorant is a hot topic among crunchy, natural, health-minded folks. Conventional deodorant has lots of nasty ingredients and more than one report coming from the scientific community has hinted at a possible link between the nasties in deodorant and beast cancer. Just a quick gander at breast cancer rates and you may soon find yourself freaking out about what kind of deodorant you are using. Think about this tidbit. It is said that it only takes 26 seconds for a body care product to be absorbed into our bloodstream. That should make us very aware of what we use on our skin, no?
Putting toxic chemicals under your arms stinks! That’s why MightyNest, an internet retailer of extraordinarily high quality and safe products for your home and family, asked me to put non-toxic Pit Paste to the test. Find out why you should choose a natural deodorant, then take the pledge below. Your pits will thank you, and you could win a Happy Pit Pack from MightyNest!
But I digress…
No one wants to smell bad, especially a woman. Yet we are are the ones getting breast cancer for the most part so we have to take special care that we are not slathering our pits with carcinogenic products or ones that will mess with our hormones (think parabens). We want to smell nice and we want a safe way to achieve that goal. The answer quite clearly is to use a more natural product right?
Well, yes. The problem for me though is that I have tried oodles and oodles of deodorant products that make the claim to be healthier and safer. Some of them actually did fit this bill. The problem though is that they didn’t work . After a couple hours their odor fighting ability cancelled out and left me thinking that I must go back to the toxic stuff. I won’t name brands but I have literally tried several dozen natural deodorants and never ever found one I liked until Primal Pit Paste.
I have been using it for about a week now and I am one happy camper. The ingredients are all natural: organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic arrowroot powder, aluminum free baking soda, and essential oils. The Lavender scented stick is my favorite but the orange creamsicle is also really, really nice. You put it up against your skin (and body heat) for just a few seconds and then it glides on easy and provides pit protection all day long. Work, gym, life…it has you covered.
The harsh winter weather can really take a toll on our skin. In the midst of all the snow, storms, and polar vortex’s of late your skin may be feeling kinda dry and drab right about now and your hair looks dull and frizzy…not so much nourished and healthy as we would like. It happens to all of us who live in cold weather climates so rest assured that many others are in the same boat right now. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways in which you can remedy the winter beauty blah’s though. Here are some natural remedies that will enable you to bring some “spring” to your winter skin.
Chapped and dry lips – Use a product that will be easily absorbed by your lips to help nourish and repair…as well as provide a barrier to wind and weather. Good products to try include those with beeswax (vitamin A stimulates cell repair) and coconut oil (skin cells drink it up).
No Glow – Winter skin can be pale and blah. Do not head to the tanning booth or start using toxic self tanners. Go for a bit of glow with mineral makeup.
Crow’s feet and fine lines – A lack of hydration in winter skin can make find lines more pronounced. To combat this issue drink more fluids. Green smoothies are very hydrating and help to plump the skin up but you may not be crazy about drinking smoothies when the weather is cold. I suggest water with a couple teaspoons of aloe vera juice added, very hydrating.
Cracked or chapped hands – Our hands are quite often exposed to the harsh weather, even if we try to wear gloves or mittens as much as we can. In order to keep them hydrated we need to use something thick, creamy, and hydrating. Good options for hand creams would include coconut oil, shea butter, or jojoba oil. Keep some in your purse so that you can get to it frequently.
Dull dry skin on your face/body – Exfoliation is your best friends this time of year. Not only does the arid air present a problem but your natural oil production slows down in colder months. The old skins cells need to be sloughed off so that your complexion does not appear dull and dry. Put a cup or two of almond meal in a glass jar or container and keep it the shower. Mix a tablespoon or so with a bit of water to make a paste and then exfoliate. It works great and is natural to boot.
I also recommend using a really soothing bar soap with french clay and natural oils and ingredients. This handcrafted soap is made with olive, coconut, palm, avocado, cocoa butter, french rose clay, Egyptian geranium essential oils, and crushed flowers.
Essential Oils for Winter Skin – Essential oils are amazing plant based oils that can help you look your best. Some of the best are Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lavender, Chamomile, and Patchouli. They are all well known for helping with skin care and skin issues.
Frizzy hair – Dry air, lots of wind, and friction with certain winter fibers creates frizzy, static hair. To combat frizz use apple cider vinegar to rinse your hair in the shower. Then rub a bit of coconut oil or olive oil on your hands and gently slide them over your damp hair, avoiding the roots. This locks in the moisture and helps with fly aways and frizz. For additional help try an avocado and olive oil hair mask, leaving it on your hair for 30 minutes or so. Also make sure ot check out my article on Essential Oils for Hair.
A few smart products and some items from your pantry can go a long way to help you beat any winter skin woes…
Dandruff is the common skin condition that leaves us with an itchy, irritated scalp and small flakes that gather on our clothing, often causing us frustration and embarrassment. It can get worse in the winter as our skin dries out due to the dry, cold weather. While it may be a great photo opp to have flecks of snow in your hair, dandruff is’t the snow we are looking for. So what to do?
Well, it can help to investigate the reasons why we may have this condition and what makes it better or worse for us personally. Are you getting lots of fats in your diet? How often and with what are you washing your hair? Are you using hair care products that dry your scalp or cause it to be excessively oily? Is your home to dry? Do you blow dry your hair? Are you experiencing hormonal changes? Answering some of these questions may help you figure out what might be causing your problem.
The skin on your scalp is an extension of the skin on your face and needs to be treated with the same care and yet the typical person probably uses shampoo and other products with some potentially nasty ingredients. SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is one such ingredient to be avoided as it can greatly irritate skin and it is found in most shampoos. In fact when companies have healing cremes or products they need to test on irritated skin, SLS is the irritant they choose to rub on the skin of humans and animals to see if they then “heal” it with their new product. Does that sound like something you want to be bathing your skin with each day?
Dandruff is also thought to be caused in part by excessive oil production on the scalp. This is yet another side effect of using conventional shampoos, which strip our hair of their natural oils causing us to produce them with a vengeance . This is why the hair of shampoo users gets crazy oily when they go even a day or two without washing. Excessive oil production becomes standard so looking into a no poo method may be helpful if you have dandruff because it may be a fungal variety of dandruff that feeds on that excessive oil.
Sensitivity to certain products may also be playing a role. SLS, fragrance, and chemicals from hair dye can all be bad news for your scalp. They cause irritation and excess oil production. I know personally that I will get dandruff if I use hair bleach or dye and I usually don’t have a problem with flakes. These products are bad news for the health of your scalp.
If your dandruff is related to eczema or psoriasis then you may need to look into triggers and deficiencies like stress, weather, sleep, diet, and allergies. Make sure to get sufficient sleep and include in your diet lots of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant fruits and veggies as well as proteins rich in zinc and B vitamins like oysters, beef, and lamb. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important so take your fish and krill oils and eat your sardines. The fatty acids from these sources are much better for your skin than those found in plant based sources like flaxseed and nuts. Eating sugar and refined carbs will increase inflammation in the body so stay away from those.
Use homemade shampoos with tea tree oil or peppermint for itching and irritation. Coconut oil and tea tree are also great anti-fungals. For dryness use lavender, aloe, or chamomile. Shampooing less will help your scalp rebalance oil production. The acidity in vinegar can help kill any bacteria that may be contributing to the problem and it can also reduce buildup that occurs from overusing hair care products. Combining cooked oatmeal with mashed bananas and spreading on damp hair can also be used to treat dry scalp/dandruff.
Hopefully with these tips you can find out why you may be getting the flakes and you will have a few ideas on what you can try to combat them. Good luck!
This week I got a great question from one of the Natural Family Living Facebook fans. I just love how everyone in that community is so helpful and quick to guide newbies who need a little assistance. It can be daunting when you decide that you want to go greener and more natural because there are so many things to consider and so many companies who like to greenwash and make their products look safer and more natural than they actually are. I have been trying to live greener and more natural for eight years now and I still have questions all the time. That is why it is so important to be able to draw upon the experiences and knowledge of other moms/women who have done the research, questioned the companies, and found the diamonds hiding among the shards of broken glass.
This was the question posed to the community:
I am slowly trying to convert to all organic and natural……up next is skin care and makeup. Does anyone have any suggestions that aren’t too outrageous in price? – Markie
I am not poised to answer this question very well because I am not a big consumer of cosmetics and skin care products. I wear makeup about five times per year and use very few skin care products with any regularity. I also like to make my own products when I get the hankering for some. I highly recommend the book GREEN BEAUTY RECIPES: Easy Homemade Recipes to Make Your Own Organic and Natural Skincare, Hair Care and Body Care Products and Organic Body Care Recipes.
If you want my personal answer to this question though I do have a few suggestions. For makeup I use two different brands…Style Essentials Mineral Makeup and the Juice Beauty line by Alicia Silverstone. Below are some of my Style Essential products.
The eye makeup (mascara and shadow pots) was a real score for me because every other brand I have tried irritates my eyes and ends up making me want to leave parties and events early so I can wash my face and rest my eyes. The lip colors and lip liners are also the perfect colors for me and the finishing powder and blush powder are on my must have list. They also sell a bar soap for makeup removal that makes your skin feel like silk. Great stuff!
So as you see, very limited personal experience here. Thanks goodness the Facebook community had some recommendations. Some of the highlights are below. Just keep in mind that everyone has a different standard when choosing products and they have to go with works for them and their price point. We have lots of options though and that is encouraging!
Just remember that when researching cosmetics and personal care products, that we have a great free tool at our disposal. The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database by EWG allows you to search by product and by brand and it rates them based upon their ingredients. It should be your go-to source when trying to establish the safety of any product you want to put on your skin or on your children’s skin…
Angie – Make your own! Cheap and easy! Just Google what you want–deodorant, mascara, blush, chapstick, toothpaste, etc. Most use similar ingredients so that saves you money too.
Sara – I use Dr. Bronner’s for cleansing and coconut oil for moisturizing. I don’t wear makeup often but use Rejuva Minerals.
Linda – For skin care I highly recommend organic virgin coconut oil…I use it on my skin and face….love, love, love it…and it has antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties…read up on it ….it’s incredible…you can find it online or in a health food store…
Olivia – Natural Joy Beauty is awesome. You can get samples before trying full sized. I searched for a while before finding a foundation and mascara that was organic and worked as well as my previous brand. LOVE this site!
Cookie – Burt’s Bees has an entire line for beauty..and it’s organic! I don’t wear make up but do indulge in coconut oils daily!
Laura – I use 100% Pure! They have amazing products from soap and moisturizers to fruit pigmented makeup! (3+ people recommended this one)
Lisa – Jane Iredale is amazing and has great ratings on EWG!
Annie – Zum sugar scrub for face wash. Use every 3 days. The tub will last a long time.
Terri – I use baking soda as a shampoo and to exfoliate my skin with ACV as a detangler. Cornstarch and coconut oil are my deodorant.
Karissa – I wear Ferro cosmetics. Absolutely love it. As far as skin care though, I make my own moisturizer etc.
Kimberlee – I love Andalou!
Wendy – For makeup I use Earth Naturals mineral makeup. The foundation is about $13 and lasts me about 6 months using it every day. My skin loves it!
What do YOU use and recommend?