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0 In Beauty/ Body/ FYI/ How to...

Staying Safe in the Sun: Nontoxic Sunscreen & Sunbathing Tips

Staying Safe in the Sun: Nontoxic Sunscreen & Sunbathing Tips | smelltheroses.com

Aloha, Smell the Roses readers! Spring is officially here and that means it’s time to start preparing for warmer weather! For some, that means wanting to slim down or get organized. For me, it means making sure I have everything I need to keep my skin healthy and protected when outside in the hot sun. ☀️️  This post outlines my sunbathing tips and recommendations for nontoxic, cruelty-free, & natural sunscreen.

The Importance of Proper Sun Protection

Skin Cancer

It is common knowledge that excessive sun exposure expedites skin aging and increases your risk of skin cancer. In the United States, skin cancer is the most common cancer. Despite this knowledge, rates of melanoma are on the rise. As seen in the graphs below, rates are steadily increasing and highest in white men and women. Although these demographics are at highest risk, anyone of any race can develop skin cancer. (Source: CDC)

Melanoma Rates (CDC) - smelltheroses.com

Sources: CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program.

Melanoma Rates (CDC) - smelltheroses.com

You may have noticed incidence and death rates are higher in men. In 2013, almost twice as many American men died from melanoma as women. A suggested explanation comes from a survey that showed only 48% of men report routine sun avoidance, compared to 68% of women. (Source: EWG)

Skin Damage

Even if you do not develop skin cancer, excess sun exposure will show in your appearance. What’s the worst part about it? The damage does not show up right away. It is a cumulative effect that develops over time and is worsened by every incidence of sun exposure.

Pictured below is a side by side comparison of the same person photographed in both regular and UV lighting. Although UV images do not predict skin cancer, they still highlight the consequences of excess sun exposure (ex. wrinkles, sunspots, red blotches, texture, pore size, etc). By visualizing skin damage normally invisible to the naked eye, these photos raise awareness to the gradual and drastic damage caused by the sun. (Source: EWG)

Canfield UV Camera Photos - Your Sun Damage Wake-Up Call - smelltheroses.com

Source: Canfield UV Camera Photos (EWG)

Vision

Growing up, we were warned to not stare directly into the sun and for good reason. The sun is extremely damaging to the eyes and can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium. To keep our eyes healthy and vision strong, the National Eye Institute recommends we wear sunglasses that block out 99 – 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation. The addition of a wide brimmed hat is helpful too! Now you have an excuse to wear more accessories! 🕶️  👒  (Source: NEI)

Infants & Children

Infants (0-6 months) – Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight because their skin does not contain enough melanin to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays. Their skin is also too sensitive for sunscreen. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants only as a last resort when shade cannot be found.

Toddlers & Children – Proper steps should be taken to prevent sunburn.One blistering sunburn before the age of 18 can double a child’s risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Broad spectrum sunscreens with an SPF 15+ are best to use in addition to shade and protective clothing. Avoid spray sunscreens due to the dangers associated with inhalation. (Source: Skin Cancer Foundation)

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Buying & Using Sunscreen

Our skin is the largest organ of the body, and it absorbs nearly everything we put on it. Let that fact soak in for a minute. Although applying sunscreen seems like a health-conscious action, it all comes down to which one you are using. If you are not careful, I believe your sunscreen can be causing more harm than good (for both you and the environment)!

Ingredients To Avoid

Sunscreens can provide one of two forms of protection; chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens contain synthetic ingredients that are absorbed by the skin to block or reflect UV rays. These have the highest incidence of skin irritation and cellular toxicity and therefore should be avoided.

Try to avoid these harmful ingredients: 

  • Oxybenzone | Sunscreen Agent – UV light absorber
    • Hormone disruption (i.e. mimic or alter hormone levels)
    • Linked to reproductive and developmental issues
    • Endocrine disruption – associated with endometriosis in women
    • Known skin allergen
    • Accumulates in people – difficult to excrete
  • Octinoxate | Sunscreen Agent – UV light absorber
    • Hormone disruption (i.e. mimic or alter hormone levels)
    • Linked to reproductive and developmental issues
    • Endocrine disruption
    • Produces free radicles that contribute to premature skin aging and skin cancer
    • Accumulates in people – difficult to excrete (has been found in mothers’ breast milk)
    • Ecotoxicity
  • Vitamin A (aka Retinol) | Skin-conditioning Agent
    • Tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with creams containing vitamin A when exposed to direct sunlight (Source: EWG)
    • Produces free radicals that contribute to premature skin aging and skin cancer
    • Known human reproductive toxicant
  • Homosalate | Sunscreen Agent – UV light absorber
    • Hormone disruption (i.e. mimic or alter hormone levels)
    • Accumulates in people – difficult to excrete
    • Endocrine disruption
    • Ecotoxicity
  • Methylisothiazolinone | Preservative – Paraben
    • Linked to serious allergic reactions (especially in children) (Source: EWG)
    • Named Allergen of the Year in 2013 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society (Source: EWG)
    • Hormone disruptor
    • Linked to reproductive and developmental issues
    • Ecotoxicity
    • Neurotoxicity

Ingredients To Look For

Physical sunscreens are generally considered the safer form of sun protection. They are made from natural minerals which sit on top of the skin and are not readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Be aware, due to the nature of these ingredients, they do tend to have a white appearance on the skin (some brands are better than others – my recommendations are listed below).

Safe sunblocking ingredient to seek: 

  • Zinc Oxide (non-nano) | Sunblock Agent – Colorant
    • Offers moderate broad spectrum UV protection
    • Low skin penetration – low health risk in lotions

Other Factors to Consider

Broad Spectrum Coverage There are two types of UV light that can harm your skin — UVA and UVB. Too much exposure to either can cause skin cancer. A broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum, sunscreen protects your skin from both. Sunscreens will have this labeled on the bottle! (Source: Mayo Clinic)

SPF Protection There is a misconception that higher SPF levels equal better sun protection. Unfortunately, SPF only applies to UVB rays (those responsible for burning) and does not take into consideration the harm associated with UVA rays (those responsible for age spots and wrinkling). For this reason, the Mayo Clinic recommends rather than focusing on a sunscreen’s SPF, choose one that is broad-spectrum. They state, even the worst burners will get adequate protection using a broad-spectrum SPF 30 when applied properly! (Read more about this topic: Mayo Clinic)

Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 but no greater than 50!

Reef Safety

Over the years I have seen first hand the effects of sunscreen on our oceans. While vacationing on the tourist-dense beaches of Waikiki, there were days you could see a film of sunscreen on the top of the ocean water. I couldn’t help but feel immense guilt as I watched little fish swimming through their chemical infested home. The pollution in our oceans from Oxybenzone has had toxic effects on our coral reefs and has contributed to coral bleaching.

Hanauma Bay Infographic - Reef Friendly Sun Protection | smelltheroses.com

Hanauma Bay Education Program | Hawaii Sea Grant

Pictured above, is an infographic from Oahu’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, a popular snorkeling spot known for its vast coral reef and diverse sea life. I found this posted when vacationing on my most recent trip and was so happy to see them making a stand against chemical sunscreens. I hope chemical sunscreens will eventually be banned but for now all we can do is try and educate the public on the importance of reef safe sunscreen.

Zinc Oxide has no known negative effects on our oceans and its inhabitants.

Application Types

Lotions | good for dry skin, best for application on large areas, can be messy

Stick | good for application on areas that require precision (i.e. around the eyes)

Spray | extremely dangerous if inhaled (apply in a well-ventilated area and be conscientious of those around you), easy to apply (especially on children), must apply a generous/even coating to ensure proper coverage and to tell where it was applied, great for quick reapplication after an initial coat of lotion

How To Apply

  1. Pick one you like because you’ll be more likely to use it. If it’s hard to apply or messy, I doubt you will be reaching to reapply it as often as your should!
  2. Apply your sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure. Physical sunscreens are typically effective immediately where chemical sunscreens need time to be absorbed.
  3. Reapply at least every 2 hours and after swimming or excessive sweating.

Extra Sun Bathing Tips

  • The best sun protection is avoidance! Always have a beach umbrella or shaded area to retreat to during the hot hours. ⛱️
  • Sunscreen should still be applied on a cloudy or overcast day! ☁️️
  • The sun is strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. At these times, try to avoid direct sun exposure! (This is the perfect time to go grab lunch in the shade or indoors). To put it into perspective, the following exposures may result in the same amount of solar energy:
    • one hour at 9:00 a.m.
    • 15 minutes at 1:00 p.m.

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Non-Toxic Sunscreen

Search for Non-toxic Sunscreen

Listed below are two databases that offer a color-coded rating system for product toxicity. Scores are applied based on each products’ ingredient composition. As a general rule, any product that falls in the green range is a safe choice!

EWG Rating System | smelltheroses.com

EWG Rating System

Think Dirty Rating System | smelltheroses.com

Think Dirty Rating System

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My Recommendations!

Beauty by Earth Sunscreen | smelltheroses.com

Beauty by Earth

Facial Sunscreen SPF 20 | Sunscreen SPF 25 | Face & Body Bundle | Aloe Vera Gel 

*Code “SMELLTHEROSES” saves you 15% on your online purchase

Badger is made in the USAEWG Rating | smelltheroses.cpm

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Badger Sunscreen - smelltheroses.com

Badger

Rose Face Sunscreen SPF 25 | Unscented Sunscreen SPF 30Sport Sunscreen Stick SPF35

Badger is made in the USAEWG Rating | smelltheroses.cpm

smelltheroses.com 

I put a lot of time and research into this post because I am so passionate about this topic.  I hope you learned something new and will improve your sunbathing habits as a result of this post! If so, please let me know in the comments section below!

xoxo Caitlyn | smelltheroses.com

1 In GIVEAWAYS

December Giveaway Announcement!

Happy December to all my Smell the Roses readers!

December is the month of giving so I knew I had to do something special for this month’s giveaway. While struggling to narrow down all my ideas to just one, it dawned on me.. why do just 1 giveaway!?

I am excited to announce I will be hosting a new giveaway each week for the month of December!

With 2017 right around the corner, I thought it would be fun for each giveaway to be focused on some of my new year resolutions:

Week 1 (Dec 4-10): Clean/Green Home 🏠

  • I am a firm believer that you need to have a clean home to have a clear mind. My goal for 2017 is to clean my house using all green/natural products. This giveaway will be a couple of my new favorite household essentials!

Week 2 (Dec 11-17): Planning 📆

  • If you read my 2017 Planner Post, you know I am a big advocate for a paper planner. However, since graduating college and starting my big girl job, I haven’t used my paper planner as much as I would have liked. One of my goals for next year is to bring back my old planning habits (stickers and all)! This giveaway will be for a few of my planning essentials!

Week 3 (Dec 18-24): Health/Fitness 💪

  • Okay, okay, I know its cliche but I am really determined to step up my workouts and take full control of my health this coming year. This past year has taught me how hard it is to motivate yourself to go to the gym. If you’re in the same boat as me, don’t worry – this giveaway has you covered to kick start your new health/fitness routine!

Week 4 (Dec 25-31): Gratitude 😌

  • I think we can all admit we sometimes take our lives for granted. We get caught up things that we shouldn’t and complain more than we should. I don’t know if it’s been this past year working in the ER or if it was something else, but I have realized I take a lot for granted and need to appreciate all the beautiful things in my life. I think we all could benefit from doing that. My biggest goal for 2017 is to practice daily gratitude. This giveaway will help with just that!
Items included in each giveaway won’t be announced until that giveaway launches (we have to keep some element of surprise 😉)! As always, each giveaway will be run through a plugin on each corresponding blog post here on the blog.
Don’t miss out on the giveaway announcements! Make sure you are following my social media accounts:

I hope you’re all as excited as I am! Stay tuned!

2 In Food/Supplements/ Wellness

Why I Became a Vegetarian

Why I Became a Vegetarian: smelltheroses.com

I’ll be honest, it was not difficult for me to become a vegetarian. Before May 22, 2015, the only meat I ate regularly was chicken, turkey, and fish. I had eliminated “red meat” from diet several years before this. I don’t remember exactly why I stopped eating beef but I do remember reading some article that stated “red meat” was hard on our digestive tracts so I just went with it. This wasn’t hard because there was a turkey alternative for all my favorite foods. I should also add, since my little sister was obsessed with pigs (and still is 😉 ), as we grew up, pork was strictly prohibited in our household.

That day in May when I took the leap and abstained from chicken and turkey, it was barely even noticeable. I ate the same things I usually ate but replaced the meat with other sources of protein. There was definitely a learning curve in the beginning. I had to do my research and start to look at food differently: each food I put into my body had a purpose. I was no longer eating to feel full or for taste, I was eating to nourish my body. After a few weeks, I knew I would never go back.

When did I decide to go vegetarian?

I became interested in vegetarianism when I graduated high school but never seriously considered it. Like most, I focused on all the reasons NOT to become one. I convinced myself it would take too much time/effort which I didn’t have and that, as an athlete, I wouldn’t be able to get enough protein to repair my muscles. Any time I mentioned the interest, people told me “you’re going to waste away” or “you’re going to become malnourished”. Fast forward to my final year of undergrad — I promised myself I would make the transition to vegetarian. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make any excuses because my cheerleading career would be over and I would have plenty of free time. I’m happy to say, the day after graduation was my first day! 🙂

So what exactly convinced me to go vegetarian?

While many people switch to a plant-based diet for the health benefits, my primary motivation was my love for animals. Raising my two doggies showed me we have more in common with animals than we have differences. All animals have emotions just like you and me – they can feel love, excitement, attachment, fear, and suffering.

When I started doing research, I quickly realized the only thing difficult about becoming vegetarian was acknowledging the horrific reality of the meat industry. The animals do not live a single day without pain and suffering. I didn’t believe what I read until I saw it. As much as I didn’t want to, I forced myself to watch real undercover videos as I cried in horror. I doubt even the most devoted meat eaters would be able to watch those videos without getting upset. The images from those videos are forever engrained in my head. The second I saw them I knew I could never eat meat again.

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” – Paul McCartney

I believe it is natural to question the way we eat and what we eat. We inherited our diets from our parents which they inherited from theirs and so on. In other words, eating animals is our “cultural norm”. Like any of our beliefs, we have a right to question them and explore alternatives. I don’t expect everyone who reads this post to walk away and never eat meat again. I wrote this post because I think more and more people are becoming interested in this lifestyle and want to learn more.

Final Thoughts: People become vegetarians for many different reasons. If you are seriously considering this lifestyle change, I can tell you first hand the best reason to make the switch is justice for the animals. I believe you are more likely to stick to something when you are doing it with others in mind and not just for yourself. This is one of the only “diets” that not only affects you but also others as well! These animals have no control over their situation – it is on us to be their voice and proponents for change. Having switched to a plant-based diet, I feel genuinely happier and healthier than ever.

If you would like to learn more about vegetarianism, here are the resources I recommend:


Thank you for reading! I hope you took something away from this post.

If you liked this post, let me know in the comments!