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.
So, this is actually a repost of an article I wrote last year for GOOD. We’ve never done a repost before, but because several people have sent us emails about their winter skin woes I thought it could be helpful to those who had missed this one—and a reminder to the rest of us. Even to moi, the advice doller who woke up this morning with dryer-than-usual skin and serious lip crackage. Also? Awesome excuse to post a picture from Dr. Zhivago.
How do change you beauty routine, diet, and routine in the winter?
Cosmetics companies just love to sell you on the idea that each new season calls for an arsenal of new products. And why wouldn’t they? It means you’ll ditch your half-finished current bottle of snake oil in favor of one that comes with the same crap on the inside and different claims on the out. Cha-ching.
Of course, it’s true that cold weather and even clock changes can have serious side effects for skin. But if you’re the sensitive type, switching out your entire regimen—i.e. risking reactions to new products—right when the temperature is dropping, is likely to do more harm than good. In fact if your skin is at all finicky, we strongly advocate sticking to routine in this area.
So how to beat your winter skin woes? Click “Next” above to read the tips that will matter most for winter skin.
1. Moisturize. Yes, it’s the most boring advice in the world, but there’s a reason people say it so often. Moisturizing does exactly what it implies: It helps keep moisture in by replicating the skin’s natural barrier function. It’s simple science, and you don’t need to use a different one for every season. Find a good clean moisturizer that you love, or get with the oil program, and just do it consistently. If you’re out and about in the winter keep a to-go version in your bag for some extra application.
2.Wash less. We’ve covered this in the past, and the merits of this advice are doubly relevant for winter. Over-washing strips skin of its natural protective oils, robs it of healthy bacteria, increases exposure to harmful and/or irritating chemicals, and generally aggravates skin conditions like rosacea and eczema—the very same ones that are exacerbated by seasonal changes. So as the air gets cold and dry, and you’re less likely to be a sweaty mess, do yourself a favor and get with the dirty program.
3. Avoid the acids. You don’t have to agree with our no-acid rule, but even proponents of stripping and peeling should dial back over the winter. Whether you use AHAs or BHAs, go for chemical peels, get microderm abrasion, or just subscribe to a heavy scrubbing routine, we reallyreallyreally think you should slow down. While you may be less at risk to sun exposure over the winter, burning off that top layer of skin will make you all the more vulnerable to the chafing, drying and cracking effects of cold air and gusty winds. While you may think this is reducing fine lines, we think over the long haul it’s speeding up the aging process.
4. Get your fat on. Ever notice how you crave more fat in the winter? While the diet set will offer tips on how to counter that impulse, we think that the body has an innate intelligence when it comes to such things. Healthy fats, especially omegas 3s, are key to maintaining hydrated, glowy, happy skin. Winter’s a good time to up your intake on these and as an added bonus it will help satisfy that appetite for grease the healthy way. Foods like salmon, sardines, olive oil and walnuts are chock full of omegas, but we’re not opposed to taking a supplement on top of that. Just make sure it’s a good one.
5. Improve your digestion. Your tummy is talking to you, and what it’s saying can often be read on your skin. While we don’t think you need different products every season, we do think you need different food. In past posts about Ayurveda we’ve explained how important it is to eat with the season. Winter calls for warm, calming foods and the previously mentioned healthy fats. Sorry salad girls, but your skin needs something a little bit more substantial and heat-producing to face the winter months. Instead of eating your veggies raw, make a soup or stir fry with them instead.
6. Dose up on D. Vitamin D has emerged as something of a miracle worker in the last few years. While research is ongoing, there is promising evidence that it could help prevent cancer, raise immunity, and lower the risks associated with all kinds of diseases. It’s also a powerful antioxidant, and you know that that means. Because the sun is a primary source for vitamin D, and because most of us are deficient, we’re going to suggest that you look to increase your intake of this wonder vitamin during the winter. It is available in certain foods, like fish and fortified milk, but it’s hard to get enough through those sources. As with fish oil, we think it’s a good idea to take supplements too.
7. Get a humidifier. One easy way to counter dry air is—ding, ding, ding—to add moisture to it. Some advice from the experts at the Mayo Clinic:Be sure to keep your humidifier clean, because a dirty one is an amazing place for bacteria to thrive. Also, try to have your humidifier where you spend the most time, since you’d need several to change the air quality of a house or large apartment. We suggest you put it by your bed when you’re asleep: That way you’ll wake up with happy, hydrated skin.
After last week’s conversation, it’s pretty clear that everyone draws their dietary lines differently. But over the past decade we’ve noticed the rise of a certain trend that we call “vegans who eat fish.” What gives? On the one hand there are the convincing health (and environmental) benefits of a plant-based diet, extolled in The China Study and elsewhere. On the other, nutrition heros like Dr. Andrew Weil continue to make strong arguments for eating fish, particularly the kind high in omega-3s.
Instead of choosing, some (including Bill Clinton) have opted for the hybrid diet—a.k.a. vegans who eat fish, and preferably the sustainably sourced kind. Which takes me to sardines—a new obsession. As I mentioned last week, I’m going through a period right now where animal protein seems crucial to my health. Fish is a regular go-to, but like so many foods these days, it’s also a minefield. If it’s not mercury levels, it’s over-fishing. When it’s not over-fishing, it’s the carbon footprint of sushi.
But because I believe most things Dr. Weil says, after several false starts I have finally come around to sardines in a big way. Here’s why you may want to as well… Or have you already?
1. They’re low on toxins. Because they’re little and low on the food chain, sardines don’t contain all the scary environmental chemicals found in bigger fish.
2. They’re high in omega-3s. Good for your brain, great for your skin, proven to fight inflammation, omega-3s may be the closest thing we have to a silver bullet in the food-as-medicine world.
3. There are lots of them. In fact, according to Weil, we have twice as many sardines today as we did 100 years ago. Unfortunately, that’s because we’ve overfished their predators.
4. They contain vitamin D. Many people are vitamin D deficient, and it doesn’t occur naturally in most food. While doctors are still debating just how much we need, sardines are a healthy way to get this super-vitamin without sitting in the sun (which makes dermatologists cry).
5. They taste better than tuna. Everybody knows that fat makes things yummier, and those super-healthy fats in sardines give them a satisfying flavor that you only get from tuna when you drown it in olive oil and mayo.
6. And they stink less too! It’s true that we’ve called them “stinky sardines” in the past, but compared to canned tuna or salmon, sardines are actually the least offensive on the olfactory front.
Here’s how I do mine:
—I buy a skinless, boneless variety in olive oil (I like the one at Trader Joe’s)
—I drain them and then add a bit of Vegenaise (the soy-free one), a tsp of dijon, some chopped green onion, capers, pepper, salt, and a hit of Tabasco
—I mash that together and spread on toast, wrap it in cabbage, eat it with a cucumber, whatever’s handy and good
Have you made friends yet with this sustainable superfood? If so, when, and how do you do yours?
There’s lots of debate about whether or not women should be taking supplements—especially multivitamins. Prevention did an awesome story a while ago asking that very question, and they came to the conclusion that women probably do not need to take multis(!). Other recent research has called into question whether or not we should all be dosing ourselves with D and calcium, too. (Jury is still out on those ones.)
So we want to know: Do you take supplements? And if you do, what do you take it for?
We can keep the answers simple (or not—go crazy if you want). Here, I’ll go first:
Omega-3: I take this every day without fail, for skin, mood, hair, and hormone balance.
Folic acid: No, I’m not trying to get pregnant! I take it for other reasons I don’t want to talk about, and I do so religiously.
That’s it! I used to take D but stopped. I also used to take E and A, and stopped those too. Your turn. What do you take?
We have to hand it to Tata Harper and the wonderful people who work with her. Not only are they putting out an exceptional, clean product, but they’re doing everything they can to raise awareness and further the conversation around chemical exposure.
Case in point:
Last night Tata hosted an intimate event at the Gold-LEED-certified Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Yes, it was chic and tastefully fabulous, but not a whole lot of time was spent drinking and chatting. This was about serious stuff.
I had the honor of moderating and introducing the impressive roster of guest speakers. The first was Dr. Soram Khalsa, a pioneer of integrative medicine and an expert on the body burden caused by chemicals in our environment. His talk, which was riveting, also looked at the absolute most recent studies on phthalates and other hormone disruptors. More to come on that for sure. We also plan to pick his brain about vitamin D and the latest recommendations since, as it happens, he’s written a book about D.
Next up was Ken Cook, the president of the Environmental Working Group. His presentation was inspiring, and it really changed the way I think about some of the arguments, especially those around low-dose chemical exposure. The EWG is a controversial group—and the industry just loves to paint them as fear mongers—but at the end of the day we would be nowhere without their tireless research. It was really something to hear from the man behind the mission.
And then there was Christy Coleman, the first fashion and celebrity makeup artist to entirely clean out her makeup kit. Christy, who has worked with every model, photographer and actress worth their salt, gave such a touching and personal talk that I immediately fell for this gal. She also has a great blog, with a ton of natural makeup tips. Siobhan and I are already angling to collaborate.
The event was filmed so maybe we’ll be able to share these talks with you directly. Regardless, we’ll try to impart some of the night’s lessons in posts to come. I felt so lucky to be there!