Did anyone else grow up spending a considerable part of the summer purposely frying in the sun?  I was always after the ever-elusive tan. I can’t get very dark, and was jealous of friends who tanned easily. I always got very pink before any sort of golden set in.

My role model was my mother, who would slather herself in baby oil and iodine and lie very still in the yard for hours, flipping when her timer went off.

It was my job to bring iced tea periodically, and while she was an attentive mom most of the time, I had better not bug her while she was out in the sun. As a teenager, my girlfriends and I would be off to the beach to “lay out,” meaning bake as long as possible. Never mind the bad grammar, it was a stupid thing to do. Well, now I know better, and I am always on the lookout for good sunscreens.

EWG’s 2013 Guide to Sunscreens has been out for a few weeks now. I was very happy to see that my new favorites earned good ratings. EWG does a great job of talking about issues that I often hear come up in any discussion of sunscreen – the problem with high SPF, chemical vs. physical screens, nanoparticles, vitamin D, etc. Just check out their pull-down research menu.  One of my biggest concerns with sunscreen is the UVA/UVB balance. A sunscreen’s SPF is based on its UVB protection (the rays that burn and contribute to certain types of cancer). UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, causing aging and cancer.  The FDA has pretty weak standards for UVA (“broad spectrum”) protection, so you may not be very well protected in spite of what the package says.  EWG’s rating system includes UVB and UVA protection as well as the stability of the sunscreen.  Though I don’t think EWG is perfect, I do trust what they have to say about sunscreens.

Now, you might say, why not just avoid the issue altogether and stay out of the sun, or cover up?  I do those things as much as possible, but it’s not always possible or desirable. And I spent too much of my life not being careful, so I’m very careful now. Recent research showcased in Prevention indicates diligent use of broad spectrum sunscreen can slow or prevent photoaging. I certainly know that going without sunscreen will quickly undo the good my DIY brightener does. I reviewed my favorite face sunscreen a while back, and I still use this one for face too. But this year I was on the hunt for a great body screen, something in a non-nano zinc. Here’s what I’m loving…

Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Moisturizer:  This is absolute perfection for me. It’s fairly thick and moisturizing, yet easy to spread, plus it’s water resistant.  There’s a very light citrusy scent that fades quickly. I find it leaves me with a nice glow, without being sticky at all. When I first applied it, I was surprised that it is tinted. There’s not enough pigment to leave a visible tint on my skin, but it completely eliminates any whiteness that one can get with zinc sunscreens. I was concerned that it would leave marks on clothing, but I’ve had no problem with it at all, even if I get a little sweaty.  ($16/3.75 oz, EWG rating)

Badger SPF 30 Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Lotion:  I find this unscented lotion very easy to spread, though you still have to do the standard rub into palms, pat onto skin and rub in thing that is necessary with most physical sunscreens.  The spreadability (is that a word?) makes it great for squirmy, impatient kids (and husbands). If I’m careful not to overapply, I don’t get the white cast, but it’s a delicate balance. This one is drier than the cream versions I’ve used from Badger, almost too dry for my skin.  But if I’m going to do something in the sun that will kick up dirt, this is excellent. Nothing will stick to it.  And if you have oilier skin, this could be the ticket. ($17.99/4 oz, EWG rating)

Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen Cream:  This is actually what got me through last summer without a hint of color added to my skin. It’s a gem. It’s unscented but smells stronger than the lotion, basically like its sunflower oil base. The thickness makes it harder to spread, but when done patiently it looks good and is a top performer.  I love the very short and simple ingredient list.  It’s moisturizing, so I love it on my hands, and the water resistance is a great feature.  ($15.99/2.9 oz, EWG rating)

What are you doing for sun protection this season?

Happy 4th of July everyone! I’m actually celebrating it in Canada—I know, not exactly patriotic, but very enjoyable nonetheless. How are you making the most of this midweek break? We have some ideas…

1. Don’t do any work.

Says the girl writing a blog post, I know. But really, when I moved stateside I discovered that the 4th is second only to Christmas and Thanksgiving in its holiday holiness. Everybody takes today off. So whether or not you have big plans for the day, we think you should do exactly what pleases you.

2. Turn off your phone…

And maybe your computer too (when you’re done reading this post). We’re big advocates of unplugging, and most of us don’t do it nearly as much as we should. So if you’re not coordinating today, give it a whirl. And if you need extra convincing, you can revisit this WHO report.

3. Check your veggie burgers.

Grassfed hamburgers were my gateway drug into eating meat again, but I know that we have many vegetarians in the audience who just won’t go there. Good thing veggie burgers taste so darn good, but don’t just grab any brand: You may recall a study from a few years ago revealing that many popular veggie burgers contained the neurotoxin hexane. Avoid that scary stuff by making your own burgers from scratch, or find out here which are safer than others.

4. Wear a good sunscreen.

Sunscreen continues to be a hotly debated issue here on the site. But one thing we can all agree upon: If you’re planning to spend a day cooking in the sun, you need the stuff. You can revisit some of our clean favorites here.

5. Don’t get too drunk…

But if you do, remember these natural hangover remedies tomorrow morning.

And groggy girls might also want to try the 100% Pure Coffee Bean Eye Cream deal we’ve got going (review forthcoming, but we love this stuff and so do a lot of you… and it’s a sweet $18).

P.S. We’re also still running NuboNau’s special Independence Day 4 for the 4th deal. So if you’re looking to pamper yourself this holiday, hit that.


Where Do You Stand On Sunscreen?

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.

Happy Friday everyone! Meet Catherine, who is a great example of someone who truly uses sunscreen like they should! More power to her.  She spends her days working, chasing around her bulldog (awesome!), and training for a 1/2 marathon (double awesome!), and she keeps the sun off all the while. Read on!

Name: Catherine

Age: 37
Current Weather: I live in Chicago and it has been all over the place this Spring, currently in the upper 30s and sunny!
Hair: I have long, straight, dark brown hair. It’s very fine and gets very oily.
Skin: I have residual oiliness from my teens and twenties, but I’d say it’s combination now. I’m fair, I have good skin tone and few wrinkles from being extremely diligent about sunscreen use. If SPF 1,000 existed I would use it!
Favorite Star: Ursula Andress
In the shower…
OK, I’m going a bit backwards here because I usually shower at night. I work from home and spend a lot of time outside, so in the morning I rinse my face with water and spray on Evan Healy’s Lavender Facial Tonic Hydrosol followed by Josie Maran’s Argan Daily Moisturizer with spf 40. I let that sink in and then I apply Elemental Herbs Zinc Sunstick spf 30, concentrating at the hairline and nose. I have a 60-lb american bulldog who needs lots of exercise, plus I am training for a half marathon, so I sweat A LOT. I need lots of protection in the blazing sun! When I shower at the end of the day, I exfoliate with Suki Lemongrass Exfoliating Cleanser. I wash and condition with Acure Organics Pure Mint and Echinacea Stem Cell Shampoo and Conditioner, and I wash the sweat off with EO Coconut Vanilla shower gel.
Outside the shower…
If I don’t shampoo my hair in the shower (I shampoo every other day), I use Lush No Drought Dry Shampoo if I have to go somewhere and don’t want to be seen with oily roots! If I’m going to bed, I use Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid toner, followed by Jurlique Herbal Recovery Gel. For my eyes I use MyChelle Fabulous Eye Cream. I moisturize my body with Acure Mandarin Orange and Mango body lotion.
Finishing touches…
I only wear makeup if I’m going out at night. Usually it’s 100% Pure Tinted Moisturizer, Josie Maran Argan Color Stick in Rosy, 100% Pure Mascara in Black Tea, Korres Eyeliner in Brown, and Afterglow Hydra Gloss Lip Gloss in Aerial. I carry Boscia blotting tissues in Lavender (these smell amazing!) for touch-ups.
So…Sunscreen queen! Is anyone else training for a race or otherwise spending a lot of time outside and have an active sunscreen that’s been working well?

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Hey all! Hope you are still enjoying these AM routines as much as we are. Please keep submitting if you haven’t yet! Today’s comes to us from Naomi, who is still using a product from the Quarterly subscription (yay!) and lots of other fun ones too… Read on!

Name: Naomi
: 39 (ouch!)
Current weather
: schizophrenic!  NYC trying desperately to molt into spring
: chin length, fine, fairly straight dirty blonde without highlights but currently sun-kissed blonde (with highlights)
: Fair-to-medium complexion, pernickety temperament – still experiencing a dose of winter dryness but currently pretty clear and smooth, just needing extra care and moisturising

Naomi is a regular around these parts, and Siobhan even had the pleasure of meeting her once at an event in New York. Herewith, her awesome routine!

In the shower…

Quick hair wash with California Baby Tea Tree shampoo (every week or two I use Ctonics Tantra shampoo for flakes) followed by a light condition with Suki conditioner. I use Clarisonic on my face (and sometimes décolleté) with Wei Beauty Chinese Rose Foaming Cleanser. Pits & bits get a wash with soap, currently using the one that came in my first Quarterly box (one personal care item that’s soooo easy to keep clean!). Every couple of weeks I do a full body scrub with one of the 100% Pure scrubs (not a purchase, it was free when I bought products a while back). When I don’t have a body scrub product (which I don’t tend to buy, I only use them if they came with something else) I use a body brush or the equivalent with a bit of my soap

Outside the shower…

I use one of three serums: Suki targeted bio-brightening face serum; Kahina Giving Beauty serum (a fave!); or One Love Morning Glory (compliments of a recent NMDL Friday Deal – thanks!). Then I use either 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine eye cream or Origins GinZing Refreshing eye cream, depending on if I feel puffiness or dark circles are a problem. After that, I us either 100% Pure Organic Pomegranate Antioxidant Hydration SPF20 or (if I’m definitely not spending any time outside) Bee Yummy Skin Food. It’s Vive Sana Polar to Solar sunscreen if I’ll be spending any real time outside, like weekends. A couple of times I week I moisturise with either Evan Healy body oil or Acure Organics Cocoa Butter + CoQ10 body lotion. I put MJ’s Herbals arnica salve on any bruises, Kahina argan oil on any extra dry patches or eczema and every couple of weeks, on days I’m only running errands or not going out in public at all, I use Kahina argan oil as a treatment on my hair and leave it in until the next day’s shampoo. Every day in winter, or as little as possible in the good weather, I blow dry my hair.

Finishing touches…

I love RMS un-coverup. Sometimes, depending on how “good” my skin is, I use Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Luminous Foundation. Then I like Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Beauty Balm as blush, RMS Beauty cream eye shadow in Solar or Lunar, Shu Uemura eyelash curler, Josie Maran mascara, Anastasia Perfect Brow pencil, Dior Lip Maximiser or RMS Beauty lip balm. Okay, so now I can really see why the Desert Island Challenge was too hard for me… :)

Ha! Is she awesome, or what?

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