Monthly Archives: May 2013

Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

little boy putting on sunscreen

I can hardly wait for the pools to open and that means it’s officially sunscreen season. We use sunscreen to protect us from the sun but with questionable ingredients and conflicting reports about if they really work, who in the heck knows what to buy.

As a confused consumer, I set out on the hunt to figure it out and discovered the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an unbiased citizen-funded advocacy and research firm. They just released their 7th annual Sunscreen Report. My hope is that this summary of their findings will leave you empowered to buy safe and effective sunscreen for your family and then forget about it and just have fun in the sun this summer.

What you need to know…

  • Less than 25% of the sun protection products on the market in 2013 are considered to have safe ingredients and contain broad UV protection according to the EWG.
  • Skin cancer rates have tripled over the last 35 years despite increased awareness of melanoma.
  • The current FDA definition of “broad spectrum” doesn’t include protection against UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the body and are thought to cause more damage. In fact, most American sunscreens couldn’t even be sold in Europe because our products wouldn’t meet their more stringent safety and efficacy standards.
  • Even though there are “new” FDA rules in place, sunscreens are not better or safer now than in previous years.

What to avoid…

  • Spray Sunscreen – It’s convenient and fast but it’s also dangerous when inhaled. The FDA expressed concern for the efficacy and safety of sprays in 2011 but companies are still turning them out like crazy. Sprays make it easy to miss a spot. I’m sure we’ve all had the I-missed-a-spot stupid sunburn.
  • Super High SPFs – The EWG recommends avoiding anything higher than SPF 50. Most higher SPF sunscreens still only protect you from UVB rays which cause the sunburn but UVA rays tend to penetrate deeper causing more damage so we need protection from both. Not to mention that higher SPF sunscreens can give a false sense of safety tricking people into staying out too long and getting burnt anyway.
  • Vitamin A or Retinyl Palmitate – I’ve seen this ingredient in anti-aging beauty products for years – so what’s the problem? Several government studies have found that when exposed to the sun it has been shown to increase the rate at which skin tumors and lesions form. Yikes! This ingredient is found in 1 of 4 sunscreens on the market. While the FDA hasn’t ruled on this yet, EWG strongly recommends you avoid sun products that contain this ingredient.
  • Oxybenzone – If you flip over your sunscreen right now, you’ll probably find this ingredient lurking there. It’s found in nearly half of all products on the market. Oxybenzone is a chemical that mimics estrogen in the body after it’s absorbed by your skin. Data has shown a link to endometriosis in older women and lower birth weights when used by pregnant moms. Don’t forget that children’s bodies are much smaller and their chemical burden can be much higher, which is especially dangerous while they are still developing.

What to do instead…

The best way to protect your skin is to cover up with clothes, hats, and sticking to the shade as much as possible. When those methods absolutely won’t work, go for one of the EWG recommended brands so you know you’re getting the best protection and the least chemical toxins.

Some of the top-rated brands include…

  • Alba Botanica, Natural Very Emolient Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Aveeno Baby, Natural Protection Face Stick, SPF 50
  • Aubrey Organics, Natural Sunscreen for Active Lifestyles, Tropical, SPF 30
  • Burnt Out, Kids Physical Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Coppertone, Water Babies Pure and Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 (be careful here there are a lot of Coppertone brands that are not on the safe list)
  • Seventh Generation, Wee Generation Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • And lots more…go to to see the full list

Where to shop…

I would start with your local natural foods/products store – they’ll likely have many of these brands. If local shopping fails you, you can definitely find these brands online. Where you’re not likely to find them is in your regular grocery and drug stores.

Here’s wishing you and your family a safe and sunburn-free summer!

Why Cut the Crap? – True radiant health comes from a mixture of healthy diet and lifestyle choices. The cost of our fast-paced and convenient life is chemical toxins in and around us.  Ridding your home and family of chemical toxins that make you sick and drag you down doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. In this series, you’ll learn the most efficient and easy ways to “cut the crap” so you can just enjoy your life.


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Filed under Clean Living Tips, Cut the Crap Series - 10 Fast and Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Lifestyle

Eat Organic Sometimes

Eat Organic Sometimes

True radiant health comes from a mixture of healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, we can’t just stop at a healthy diet. The cost of our fast-paced and convenient life is chemical toxins in almost everything around us.  Ridding your home and family of chemical toxins doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. In this series, you’ll learn the most efficient ways to “cut the crap” so you can enjoy your life.

Is it really necessary to eat organic? – I’m going to give it to you straight here… you absolutely have to eat organic at least part of the time if you want to avoid ingesting harmful pesticides and chemical toxins. That means you have to buy at least some of your produce (i.e.: “the dirty dozen” – produce with the highest pesticide content) in the organic section, the farmer’s market, or straight from a farmer you trust.

I was a total skeptic…

I know this one is hard to swallow at first. When I first heard about organic food years ago, I thought those “organic-eating people” were going way overboard. I also thought it was a convenient way to scare people into paying more for the exact same thing. I mean, come on, I had been eating “regular” produce my whole life and I was fine – so what was the big deal? The government wouldn’t let us eat things that would hurt us, right?

How we got here (the short version)…

Where our food comes from has changed A LOT in recent years. It wasn’t so long ago that farming was a way of life for most families. Not to mention, a time-tested art form. With the rise Big Ag we started to see the mass production and commercialization of our food supply. Now, instead of small farms with lots of different produce, you see massive fields of one giant crop planted over and over again. To protect that food from ever-depleting soil and pests, we need pesticides….and lots of them for the same yield. The same goes for factory farming and large-scale dairies. Just as with any large-scale operation, as quantity goes up the quality goes down and they use pesticides and harmful chemicals to combat the unnatural conditions. But this isn’t furniture we’re talking about – it’s our food. The same food we serve on the dinner table that becomes your blood, brains, and organs.

Note: If you want to learn more about the state of our food industry I encourage you to read any book by Michael Pollan. If documentaries are more your style try Food, Inc or Food Matters. 

What organic really means…

There are many falsely-held beliefs about organic food unfortunately, but organic simply means that the produce was grown without the use of (most) synthetic pesticides and is much healthier for our bodies. A conventional strawberry has approximately 54 pesticides sprayed on it before it reaches the produce aisle. Pears have been shown to have noticeable levels of neurotoxic insecticides.  Pesticides have been linked to birth defects, neurodevelopmental delays and cognitive impairment, childhood brain cancers, Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, endocrine disruption leading to changes in behavior (more aggression in boys, more feminized play in boys), early onset puberty (for girls), thyroid disorders, obesity, and diabetes.

Protect your little ones…

Pound for pound, our little ones ingest more food and water than adults do, by a lot. That means that they’re also ingesting more chemicals toxins, which can be a devastating toxic burden to a fragile growing body.

Some other organic facts:  

  • You can’t wash pesticides off because they absorb into the skin of the produce (even if you have the special spray)
  • Organic foods ARE proven to be more nutritious and they taste way better
  • Even though the effects aren’t immediate – the chronic toxic burden comes out often decades later. Do you want to wait and see?

The good (no GREAT) news…

Eating organic can reduce your overall pesticide load in your body by 80% in just 4-5 days.  That’s huge!

The cost-effective way to do organic…

To save money, focus on just buying the “dirty dozen” in the organic produce section. Some produce absorbs way more toxins than others and the worst offenders have been labeled as the “dirty dozen.” These include: apples, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, kale/collard greens, and summer squash. You can save by just buying the really dirty ones organic and getting the rest conventionally.

The cleanest produce (ok to buy conventionally) includes: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, canteloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapple, sweet peas, and sweet potatoes.

Click here to read the report from the Environmental Working Group.

Cost: Here’s a simple cost breakdown sample to give you an idea…

Produce                      Organic                  Conventional                Difference












*Note: These prices are per pound and were collected in April in New Mexico and may not reflect all areas accurately.

Knowing that your kids aren’t eating neurotoxic insecticides…priceless.

I don’t have time for this… I’m all about saving time for busy people. Switching to organic usually only takes extra time while you wrap your head around the idea. You may find that you need to shop in a new place or perhaps make 2 trips. Or maybe you need to research local farmers. I’ve found that it does take a little bit more time than before in the planning stage of shopping but my food TASTES better and we FEEL better so it’s worth it to us. Now that we’re pros, it doesn’t take any more time than before.

Helpful resources….

  • The Environmental Working Group – The nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization
  • Local Harvest – find farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) opportunities, and local farmer’s markets.
  • Locavore (an App for your smart phone) – The easy way to find local, in-season food.

If I can assist you in your sometimes organic journey, please hit me up.

What do you think about eating organic produce? Is it essential or just essential B.S.? Please comment below.


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Filed under Clean Living Tips, Cut the Crap Series - 10 Fast and Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Lifestyle, Healthy Eating!