July 22, 2012

Still here, but distracted ...

New Glarus Brewery, home of Spotted Cow beer
I'm away from our Seattle home and finding it hard to either blog or read blogs. I've hardly even been taking photos of anything —  although I went to the trouble of bringing my camera, I've barely used it.  (The photo above was taken with my phone.) I'll be back home again in August, and expect to be catching up on my reading and writing. Right now I'm enjoying  seeing people I only see once a year, and trying to get our Wisconsin house back together for our new renters. (More on the "joys" of renting a house, later. Seriously, is it really necessary to bend all the curtain rods into a "u" shape, or get mud on everything? Or pull the storm door off its hinges, or smash my  metal watering cans? Or, or, or ...)

July 03, 2012

It's a sunscreen jungle out there — don't get burned

It used to be so much easier to pick a sunscreen in the "olden" days. I just went to the drugstore and picked up a tube of Coppertone, Sea 'n Ski, or one of the other well-known brands. Now I have to consider whether the tube contains carcinogens, or hormone disruptors, whether it blocks UVA as well as UVB, etc., etc. You can read the highlights of sunscreen issues on the EWG (Enviromental Working Group) Web site, as well as a longer, more thorough discussion of the topic, and get recommendations for which products to choose or avoid. It's complicated, but as with many of the other choices of what to put on or into our bodies, I believe it's worth spending a little time to choose our bodycare products with some discretion.

On top of all the health issues related to sunscreen, for many of us there's the question of which sunscreens are vegan, and EWG doesn't really address this. You have to pour over labels and contact manufacturers. Last year, after careful scrutiny, I settled on *Goddess Garden Kid's Natural Sunscreen. It says right on the tube that it's 100% vegan and reef safe, and it scores pretty well on the EWG list. The Goddess Garden Baby sunscreen gets a better safety score but I couldn't find it when I was shopping, and the tube I chose was the best option I could find.

But, do I like it? Not totally. It goes on white and takes a while to disappear. On my arms or legs that's not such a problem, but on my face, it leaves me looking a bit like a pale cast member from the Twilight series. And not in a good way. I counteract the white pallor by moisturizing first, letting the moisturizer sink in, applying the sunscreen, waiting until it disappears, then adding light makeup. This procedure is only convenient when I'm applying sunscreen at home. On the plus side, the sunscreen does seem to work.

 As far as other vegan choices to try, Loving Naturals Clear Face is vegan, though other products from the same brand contain beeswax. It's specifically designed for the face, and sounds like it would be a lot easier to apply than the product I now have. You can use Loving Natural Clear Face on your body, but it's not waterproof and not recommended for sweaty activities.

Elemental Herbs looks like it's vegan, also. Do you have a favorite vegan sunscreen that scores no higher than 1 or 2 on the EWG safety rating scale? Please share in the comments. Thanks!

*(According to EWG: "Many brands formulate children’s sunscreens with safer, more effective ingredients than those in other products. About 63 percent of kids’ sunscreens contain effective mineral ingredients that provide good UVA protection, compared to 40 percent of other sunscreens.

Though you still need to read labels and use EWG’s Sunscreen Guide, chances are you’ll get a better sunscreen if you buy one marketed for kids.

Compared to other sunscreens, those with the words “baby,” “children” or “kids” in the product name are less likely to contain:

  • Fragrances, which are mixtures of chemicals some of which may cause allergies and other serious health problems. Some 72 percent of kids’ sunscreens are fragrance-free, versus 54 percent of other sunscreens.
  • Oxybenzone, a hormone-disrupting chemical, is in 37 percent of kids’ sunscreens versus 56 percent of other sunscreens.")