Eco-Fashionista: Here Comes The Sun
As March is coming to a close, April showers are springing up in advance, and before we know it, summer will quickly be here. All this cold wetness makes me long for the sun and intense summer New York heat. I say this, however, as I sit by the pool in sunny, hot LA, (don’t hate me) wondering why I don’t live here!
As I entered the pool area, all I could see was a sea of tanned and chiseled bodies. Leaving my low self-esteem at the door, I de-layered to my swimsuit and instantly was aware that all eyes were on me. No, it wasn’t because I have an absurdly amazing body, far from it. It was because my skin was white. NO, not white, like, beacon in the night white, like lighthouse light shinning in the night white. And of course, it never crossed my mind to bring sunscreen. I mean, I did come when LA decided to have freakishly hot weather. Its okay, I thought to myself, I’ll just ask to borrow from someone, but after the third try, I realized all these people were greasy with tanning oil. I had to ask the lone man with two kids in the corner to borrow something higher than SPF 4.
That got me thinking. I don’t have to go into the ramifications of sun damage or the fact that I was secretly thinking that I’ll probably outlive all these people with my white and pasty, wrinkle free skin. As far as wrinkles go, this is Hollywood baby. I’m sure they’re all thinking “sun wrinkles? Eh…I’ll just Botox…”. I mean let’s be honest. In the next ten years when I’ll really have to worry about wrinkles, I’m sure they’ll have some handy dandy at home Botox kit where we all can live in a wrinkle free and expressionless world!
But seriously, although Vitamin D is good for you, you can’t reverse the damage of skin cancer or saggy wrinkly arm skin…not cute. As I finish lathering, I stare at the back of the bottle. I start to wonder, what the heck am I putting on my skin to ward off the suns evil rays?
I had just applied Neutrogena Sensitive Skin SPF 30 sun block lotion. The Sensitive Skin aspect claims that there are no irritating chemical sunscreens in it. It’s a “Gentle oil-free formula that physically blocks the sun’s damaging rays to provide instant protection without irritating chemical sunscreens. Enriched with anti-oxidants and special moisturizers for healthier looking skin. Vanishes on skin for a weightless, non-greasy feel”. They make it sound enticing but I can’t get the thought out of my head about exactly what was vanishing on, or rather into, my skin. It doesn’t claim to be chemical free, just hypo allergenic. Unlike any time before, I couldn’t understand what made this any better than the non-sensitive kind. The ingredients were still products that sound horrifying. Titanium Dioxide, Neopentyl Glycol Diethlheanoate, Glycerin, Aluminum Hydroxide, Iron hydroxide, Steric Acid, something about a acrylate crosspolymer…I could go on…the list of ingredients covered half the bottle.
There were lots of ingredients to make this thing supposedly “enriching”. But are they needed? I needed to find out, so I decided to investigate further. Banana Boat is a big sunscreen brand, one I usually use because it makes you pasty white when you put it on, thus making me feel like I literally have a shield on my skin against the sun. But it only has three ingredients. Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Oxybenzone, Octy Salicate. Then I looked at what their version of the kids’ sunscreen was composed of. It was pretty much the same three ingredients but with different endings. If I were a chemist I’d gladly go into what they mean, but I can only think that they’re a composite of the original element just broken down so they aren’t as strong, and thus not as likely to irritate a child’s skin. (or just not be as harmful)
With ingredients of chemicals I can’t even pronounce, I wondered if there was something safer for your skin. Being Australian, I learned from a very early age to always wear sunscreen and a hat if you were to be outside. Today there are swim suits made with long sleeves and in some cases long legs. It looks like a revival of an early 1900’s swim suit, but it protects children from the harmful rays as well as limits the amount of chemical sunscreen put on the skin. Being in the direct hole of the ozone, Australia has always been the frontrunner in Sunscreen and Sun protection technology, so I decided to look there to see if they had any alternatives to chemical sunscreens.
Soleo Organics, an Australian sunscreen brand, had the solution. A trusted alternative to common synthetic sunscreens, this new and improved formula from Australia provides SPF 30+, broad spectrum, 3-hour water resistant protection without the use of chemical UV-absorbers, titanium dioxide or synthetic preservatives. Because of the hypoallergenic formula this sunscreen is suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin. Soléo Organics uses a special form of "nanofine" zinc oxide, which means unlike common zinc, it won't leave your skin ghostly white. Furthermore zinc oxide is considered the single best broad-spectrum sunscreen (protecting from UV A and UV B rays).
It is formulated with natural and organic ingredients and is fortified with botanical extracts to moisturize and care for the skin. I mean, look at the ingredients: grape seed oil, macadamia oil, green tea extract, roman chamomile extract, sunflower oil, capric/caprylic triglycerides (plant oil derived), beeswax, theobroma butter, candelilla wax, lecithin, vegetable oils, cucumber extract, tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E), the active ingredient being zinc oxide.
These ingredients make me want to put on the sunscreen as an after shower lotion! Yahuuu! So I wondered if sunscreen could be organic, what the hell was putting on chemicals for so long doing to me? Have we been all caught in a catch 22 where we are protecting ourselves from sun damage, but ultimately harvesting damage in another way?
Though chemical sunscreens have not been studied to determine if they generate free radicals upon sun exposure, many are concerned that this is a very likely possibility. There are well-known scientific studies by Switzerland's Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, which prove that chemical sunscreens have unintended detrimental consequences. The chemical compounds in sunscreens can accumulate in body fats, in mother's breast milk and can cause hormonal changes within the body. These chemicals mimic estrogen, and induce hormonal activities.
But…at the end of the day, everyone has been applying sunscreen for years, and no one has reportedly died from an overdose or perpetual use of sunscreen, just melanoma. SO, at the end of the day, I would say USE SUNSCREEN at all times. But at least now you have an organic alternative! They don’t have a specific website, but if you Google: “Soleo organics sun screen” it will pop up. But here’s an example: http://www.purehealthcafe.com.au/manufacturers.php?manufacturerid=61
(Egyption Art Image: www.megamart.co.nz)