It’s that time of year y’all! Time for fun and sun, a Bardot pic and the perennial conversation about sunscreen. The EWG has released its 2012 report, and this time they’re focusing on the many myths about sunscreen. Their piece Sunscreen Exposed: Nine Surprising Truth, calls out some assumed facts about these potions, some of which are just plain fiction. It begins:
“Sunscreens prevent sunburns, but beyond that simple fact surprisingly little is known about the safety and efficacy of these ubiquitous creams and sprays.”
It’s true. Read the piece, but here’s a quick recap:
1. There’s no conclusive proof that it prevents skin cancer.
2. In fact, there’s even some evidence that it increases risk of melonoma.
3. While the market loves super-sky-high SPFs, there’s no proof of their efficacy and even the FDA has proposed prohibiting anything over 50 for being “misleading to the consumer.” Plus which, these high numbers actually encourage people to stay out longer.
4. We need vitamin D, and some smart unprotected sun exposure is the easiest way to get it.
5. Retinal palmitate, a type of vitamin A often used in sunscreens, is suspected of increasing the speed of skin cancer development.
6. Because standards around UVA are not stringent, many sunscreens barely protect skin from free radical damage (also known as aging).
7. Chemical sunscreens contain hormone disruptors, among other nasty ingredients, and many mineral versions now contain nanoparticles. Boo.
8. Europe’s ahead of the game on sunscreens. No surprises there.
9. The FDA has delayed the implementation of their new stricter language laws on sunscreen. That means another summer without them.
So now to you: Do you use sunscreen? Have you found a great one that’s clean? Where do you stand on the sunscreen spectrum.
I for one almost never use the stuff, preferring to limit my exposure. This past Saturday for example I sat by a pool for a little bit, taking in the rays, and then I put on a hat and moved into the shade. I know, most dermatologists would start crying if I told them that story, and I’m certainly not making recommendations: sun exposure is different for everyone. Siobhan, who has sun-sensitive Irish skin, uses sunscreen regularly and has reviewed many (that series has one of my faves in it too).
In general we encourage a logic approach to the sun: know your skin, respect the sun, and don’t fall for too much dogma on either side of the debate.
Maybe it’s the name—which for no good reason still sort of provokes an inner teenage eye roll—but up until a few weeks ago I’d never given much thought to aromatherapy.
Don’t get me wrong: The switch to clean products in the first place—and away from synthetic fragrance—changed my relationship to smell almost immediately. I’m painfully sensitive to the chemical stuff now, a phenomenon we’ve discussed in the past, and often drawn to (or repelled by) products because of their scents. My nose tends to tell me before my fingers whether or not my face will like a new cream—probably not uncommon.
Studies have shown time and again how powerful this sense is, with its capacities to trigger memory, avoid incest (research has shown that we’re repulsed by the body odor of those from a similar gene pool as our own), find food, chill us out (remember the jasmine study?)—just to name a few.
But I’ve never carried around a scented mist to clear my mind, balance my chi, and create healthy energy barriers. Until now.
Two new brands recently entered my life—in rather quick succession—and all of a sudden I’m spraying, I’m inhaling, I’m rubbing temples, and leaving oil dabs under my nostrils. Here’s how it happened: At the end of the Evolue/EWG event a few weeks ago I got to talking with Katie Hess, the founder of Lotus Wei Flower Essences (that’s her above bewitching Sophie Uliano with her scents!) and her friend and cohort Lisa Reinhardt from Wei of Chocolate (more on these treats in another post). After a long night of nonstop gab, these women were a welcome refuge of calm. I took the visual test that’s also on the Lotus Wei site, and after some deliberation over preference went home with an Energy Mist. Now every time the negative thoughts rise, or my energy dips, I whip it out of my bag and spritz-spritz the pain away—and, to my surprise, it actually works.
But there’s more. The day after the event I met two other amazing women for lunch—it seems women teams attract other women teams, much to our delight—green nail stylist Jenna Hipp and her awesome business partner Vanessa Gualy. We got on like a house on fire (I so wish Siobhan had been there to complete the foursome) and within moments of meeting we were sharing vegan nachos and swapping stories about our hormones, our livers, our skin, our hopes and our dreams. And, also, aromatherapy.
They told me about Hope Gillerman, giving the kind of breathless two-headed review that me and blondie do when we’re completely bananas over something. And now I know why: these oils are incredible. I’ve only had them for a few days—I came home from Montreal to a box of samples—but after just a few whiffs I knew that these would become a regular ritual. As I write this, I am taking periodic sniffs of the Tension Remedy (which supports mental clarity) and last night the sweet smell of the true relaxation Stress Remedy lulled me to sleep.
We talk a lot about the role stress, and thought patterns, play on our health and our looks. And while I’m not implying that these (admittedly pricey) concoctions are a substitute for things like meditation, yoga, and actual talk therapy—I am convinced that the kind of short mental breaks they afford during the day must do something positive for the brain.
Think I’m a flake? Into aromatherapy? Never tried? Tell us about it.
Image via Lotus Wei
When I mentioned this product in passing last week it occurred to me that I have yet to review it. Not cool! This concealer is off the chain—far and away one of my favorites in this category. And while it didn’t seem right to classify it as a foundation in our Five Foundations We Love Series, the truth is this: I kind of use it like one.
The affair started several months back. I was spending a lazy Sunday at Evolue with my buddy Jean—by the way, we’re having a party there next Wednesday eve and you should all come (details below)!—futzing around with makeup, as we are want to do. That’s when Jean suggested I try the Active Light® Concealer, which I did to humor her despite my reluctance…
See, the consistency read more like a liquid foundation to me, and because I’ve always had dark, somewhat deep-set circles under my eyes, I just didn’t think it would get the job done. Boy was I wrong.
They didn’t register the term Active Light® for nothing—this stuff actually brightens! It almost feels like some kind of trick, as though it’s reflecting the light (which is so something I’d hear in a beauty ad and make fun of). But given that it is more liquidy than your standard concealer, I don’t get why the folks at Jane Iredale don’t just promote it as an everywhere brightener. That’s how I use it! It covers light scars really well, and I apply it anywhere I have a little discoloration—like around my nose, on the inside part of my cheek (not the actual bone), and on my chin. If I’m really going for it, I’ll just spread it all over. Hey, it feels amazingly light—the antithesis of cakey—and it looks bananas.
Also, it’s all gold and pretty with that nifty brush applicator. You just twist and it comes out, swipe it on, and then fan it with your fingers (or as we like to call them: God’s intended makeup brushes).
Do you get dark circles? What’s your best trick?
PARTY DETAILS: Wednesday June 29th at Evolue from 7-9pm, I will be co-hosting a benefit to celebrate the relaunch of the EWG’s SkinDeep Cosmetics Database. A useful tool for all of us. There will be music and cocktails—not to mention you can test the concealer for yourself! If you want to come please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
If this news is any indication, salons may soon require hazmat suits for its workers… That’s hyperbole, of course, but:
The Department of Labor has issued an official immediate safety warning about formaldehyde-containing hair-smoothing products like the Brazilian Blowout. This is big news—HUGE*—and speaks to how much things really are (slowly) changing when it comes to the wild west of chemicals used in cosmetics and cosmetic procedures.
Federal OSHA is recommending that salons that carry out the procedure follow the following guidelines:
- Give workers respirators
- Give employees appropriate gloves and other personal protective equipment (e.g., face shield, chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant aprons)
- Post signs at entryways to any area where formaldehyde is above OSHA’s limit**
- Tell workers about the health effects of formaldehyde
Recent reports from Oregon OSHA, California OSHA, and now Federal OSHA should alert salon owners and stylists to look closely at the hair smoothing products they are using to see if they contain methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanal, oxomethane, oxymethylene, or CAS Number 50-00-0. All of these are names for or treated as formaldehyde under OSHA’s Formaldehyde standard. Products containing them can expose workers to formaldehyde; employers who manufacture, import, distribute, or use the products must follow OSHA’s formaldehyde standard.
The Environmental Working Group also has a new report out called Flat Out Risky that is loaded with information we haven’t had a chance to sift through yet (we just wanted to get this information out to you!).
Also, note that the hazard warning cites new lab reports in which “formaldehyde-free” products proved to contain formaldehyde after all. So in case you were still wondering about whether or not you should do it, and whether or not that “greener” Brazilian blowout really is, consider this your answer!
*Big kisses to anyone who gets that reference.
** OSHA’s limit is 0.75 parts of formaldehyde per million parts (or ppm) of air during an 8-hour work shift or 2 ppm during any 15-minute period.
It’s been a bad week for water. First it was reported that a probable carcinogen called hexavalent chromium (a.k.a. chromium-6, the one made famous by Erin Brockovich) was found in the tap water of 25 cities of the 35 that were tested. And now there is a whole other concern in California around possible water contamination from all the rain we’ve been getting in the sunshine state. Ugh.
Thanks to Brockovich, California actually set a 0.06 parts per billion (ppb) limit for chromium-6 in drinking water, but the study has shown that some cities contain far higher levels than that.
The Los Angeles Times gives a good breakdown here of what we know about chromium-6. Basically, it’s a likely “occupational carcinogen” when inhaled, increasing the risk of lung and other cancers. We know less about what happens when we drink it, though in rodent studies it caused intestinal tumors.
A senior scientist from the EWG is saying in this CNN post that your best bet is a filter, and that there are currently no guarantees that it’s not in bottled water too. But is a Brita sufficient?
Here is a breakdown by NSF, an independent nonprofit, of what filtration methods are proven to work in ridding hexvalent from our water: Reverse osmosis works, of course, but it’s expensive; filtration can work, but not all countertop filters are created equal. The one cited here, by ZeroWater, is certified by NSF. Bonus: This is the one Siobhan owns and uses.
What are you doing about it?