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Epic Vs Toxic: A Teen Sunscreen Guide

Teen Sunscreen Guide

Summer is here and that means more outdoor concerts (someone say Warped Tour?), more organic outdoor dinners, more outdoor sports (Just 30 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 times a week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 30 to 50 percent). Really, summer is about having more time outdoors for just about everything. This means more sun and while a little vitamin D is a good thing, and even a healthy thing – too much sun will leave you looking either like a lobster or that nasty ‘tan mom’.

So what’s a healthy person to do when there’s an entire summer of sun to be enjoyed? If your first answer is to slather on sunscreen to protect your skin, think again. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Melanoma rates are increasing and leading scientists believe sunscreen cannot reverse this trend – but all is not lost. If used correctly a good sunscreen can prevent sunburns and keep you looking and feeling your best through the sun-soaked summer months. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a new set of sunscreen rules into effect with the hope of curbing false claims and adding some guidelines for what manufacturers are and are not allowed to say.

Let’s take a look at some of those.


The FDA’s new rules allow most sunscreens to claim they offer “broad spectrum” skin protection and also that they can reduce skin cancer risk.

  • What to do: Look for sunscreens offering broad UVA and UVB spectrum protection.

The FDA has proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 50+, calling higher SPF values “inherently misleading”. But they stopped short of enacting a law forbidding it.

  • What to do: Don’t be fooled by a high SPF number, 15 – 50 SPF is plenty.

Federal studies indicate that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, added to sunscreens may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight.

  • What to do: Avoid sunscreens, lip products and skin lotions with vitamin A, labeled “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol.”

More is NOT better

Don’t be fooled by a high SPF. Products with anything higher than SPF 50 tempt you to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun too long – and no, lobsters aren’t sexy. DON’T FALL FOR IT! Even if you don’t burn (which everyone does) your skin could possibly be damaged. So stick to SPFs between 15 and 50.

Vitamin A vs. Vitamin D

Eating food packed with vitamin A is healthy for you but spreading vitamin A on your skin isn’t. Tumors are more likely to develop sooner on skin that has been coated with creams that include vitamin A, while vitamin D reduces the risk of breast, colon and ovarian cancers. Vitamin D also strengthens bones and the immune system. Since sunshine produces vitamin D in the body think moderation and don’t avoid it all together!

Avoid toxic ingredients 

This may sound crazy to you but some manufacturers use marketing and don’t care about your health. They use ingredients that disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies – and that’s at the least. Choose wisely when shopping for a safe sunscreen. EWG’s sunscreen database rates the safety and effectiveness of about 1,400 SPF-rated products, including about 750 sunscreens for beach and sports. Check it out!

Non Toxic Recommendations

From the over 1,400 sunscreens that EWG evaluated, we broke that down further into this list of a few of our favorite brands. From face moisturizing sunscreens to lip balm and protective makeup to broad-spectrum sunscreen here is our list of the top 12 we think you’ll love.

Makeup: Eau thermale Avene Tinted Compact

Face: COOLA Suncare Plant UV Face Moisturizer Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30

LipBalm: Ava Anderson Non Toxic Lip Balm, SPF 15

Stick: Raw Elements USA ECO STICK, SPF 30

Baby: Green Babies Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Sweetly Scented w/ Tangerine Essential Oil, SPF 30Goddess Garden Sunny Baby Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30Goddess Garden Sunny Baby Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30

Sunscreen: Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sunscreen, Green Tea, SPF 30+Thinksport Livestrong Sunscreen, SPF 30 Coral Safe Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 30

Say ‘No’ to

  • Oxybenzone, which has shown the possibility of significant allergenic effects.
  • Vitamin A, which increases the development of carcinogenic lesions.
  • Fragrance which frequently contains toxic phthalates.
  • Spray on sunscreens that release nanoparticles into the air and your skin.
  • Anything this is higher than SPF 50+ – it’s unnecessary and misleading.

Say ‘Yes’ to

  • Zinc oxide: Physically blocks UVA and UVB light.
  • Avobenzone: Absorbs full spectrum of UVA rays.
  • Ecamsule: Filters out UVA rays.
  • An SPF that is based on your skin color, time outside, and cloud cover.
  • Broad spectrum sunscreen that is water resistant.

Remember these quick tips

  • Check labels.
  • Learn ingredients.
  • Use 15 – 50 (SPF)
  • Reapply often!
  • NO tanning beds. Like EVER!

Teen Sunscreen Guide

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WTF Toxic Hair Dye!? A Non Toxic Guide To See How Hair Dye Measures Up

WTF Toxic Hair Dye!?

Most of us have done it once or twice or a few hundred times in our lives. It’s an easy way to shake things up a bit and change your look. After all, it’s just hair, right? Right. But that hair goes directly into our skin. So the chemicals in our hair dye really matter. Especially since some of those chemicals have been linked to cancer. So let’s break this down.

Why Can Hair Dye Be Bad? 

The chemical make-up of hair dye can vary and so can the affect it has on our health. The main factor is how much the chemicals in the dye penetrate into the hair shaft and have contact with the skin. Permanent hair dyes are the most dangerous because they cause chemical changes in the hair shaft that last for a long period of time. These permanent hair dyes have been referred to as “coal tar” dyes. And Let’s be honest, the name pretty much speaks for itself. These dyes were dubbed with that nickname because they, in fact, contained coal tar, as well as other harsh chemicals to be effective in the dying process. Temporary and semi-permanent dyes, lasting 2-10 washes, just cover the hair and don’t penetrate the hair shaft, so they are off the hook a little, but semi-permanent dyes can still be a cause for concern.

Although temporary hair dyes tend to be less of a concern, more often than not, we have to bleach our hair to get those vibrant pinks and blues. Bleach does penetrate the hair shaft gaining access to the rich blood supply present in the scalp. Not to mention, it has a damaging effect on your hair’s protein structure. Making your hair more prone to breakage & tangle, vulnerable to heat processes and overall porous in texture.

All the chemicals ingredients in hair dye may not be harmful on their own, but when mixed with other chemicals to create the reaction, they can become carcinogens. Creating a cocktail of mess for our health.

What Can Hair Dye Do To Us?

Hair dyes are considered to be a cosmetic, so the FDA barely regulates them, if at all. They can take action if the product is deemed to be harmful, but that takes a lot of time and proof. The FDA does not regulate each ingredient that goes into a product before it hits the market, that responsibility is put on the manufacturer. In fact, the FDA can’t even take action against products containing coal tar, if it is proven to be carcinogenic, simply because brands include a small warning label. So chemicals like coal tar, formaldehyde, Fragrance, parabens, ammonia, & DMDM Hydantoin easily sneak their way into our hair dyes. These chemicals are just a few common ingredients that pop up in hair dye and all of them have been linked to one or more cancers and diseases.

Permanent dyes have especially been linked to cancer. More specifically, they have frequently been found in correlation with blood cancers (leukemia & lymphoma) and bladder cancer. Population studies over the years have seen an increase of bladder cancers in hairdressers and barbers. Those occupations are exposed to these chemicals every day and are even at risk while applying them. It is almost impossible to not expose skin to hair dye while applying it and even breathing the fumes can have some effect. Darker semi-permanent and permanent dyes should be avoided as much as possible. Unfortunately, these correlations are hard to prove without more studies, but they are causing some stir on whether more research should be done to protect people from this exposure. (We say yes, how about you?)

Some of the other side effects of hair dyes are skin irritations and allergic reactions. Causing the scalp to have sores, redness, and itching discomfort. These should not ignored. If you keep using hair dye they could get worse. This reaction is often attributed to bleach or to a chemical called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD, often used in permanent hair dye to darken hair or cover grey hairs. People have had as severe reactions as swelling of the face, scalp and eyelids.

How can I dye my hair safely?

As always with non-regulated cosmetics, the best way to avoid these chemicals is to do your own research. If you dye your hair yourself, use EWG’s Skin Deep database to look up the ingredients in your hair dyes. You can even find better alternatives on there if yours are bad news.

Fortunately, there are some companies that are making great strides in the non toxic hair dye arena. Organic Color Systems is one of those companies. They use a coconut acid extract to lift the pigment and lighten hair. This leaves the PH balance intact and doesn’t cause the damage or contain the toxic nature of bleach. In fact, between 98-99 percent of their ingredients are derived naturally or organic. The only synthetic ingredients are stabilizers and pigments. You can also try Organic & Mineral, Logona, Sante, Tints of Nature, or Naturigin. To name a few!

There are some great DIY tricks with food grade ingredients that can give you a temporary new hair-do. You’d be surprised what you can do with some vegetable extract, tea, herbs and coffee.

If you want to get your hair professionally done, which we recommend if you are going to go farther than simple DIY recipes, find a salon that shares your same values. Organic hair salons are popping up more and more these days due to the growing non toxic awareness. Just do a Google search and see if there are any near you. Our favorite is Primrose Organics Salon and Boutique. Not only do they use non toxic hair dyes, but they offer organic hair care as well. You can even be proactive and ask your hairstylist what they use and if they would be willing to consider a switch to a less toxic option. They sky is the limit when we decide to take control of what goes on our bodies.

Hair Dye Guide

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Non Toxic Round Up June 22-26: General Mills Ditches Artificial Foods, The Supreme Court Rules For Marriage Equality & More!

Supreme Rules In Favor Of Marriage Equality

We couldn’t start this non toxic round up with out talking about the amazing step America took today. Legalizing marriage for all in all 50 states. Love wins! Part of living a non toxic lifestyle is keeping your heart and soul free of hate and negativity. This is an amazing day. Thank you to everyone that made this possible. Everyone that supported this progress and never gave up.

General Mills To Remove Artificial Food & Colors from Products

General Mills has recognized the demand for better food quality and is responding in the best way. They are removing artificial ingredients and colors from the remaining 40% of cereals that contain them. They’ve officially stated that they want to see more recognizable ingredients on their food labels. They plan to have more than 90% of their cereals free of artificial ingredients.

Jessica Alba Joins the Fight For Chemical Reform

Jessica Alba is going above and beyond for non toxic living. She already has her own non toxic product line, The Honest Company. She is now taking on chemical reform, saying that even the reform for the Toxic Substances Control Act doesn’t go far enough to protect people. We are stoked to have people of influence taking on toxins in our lives!

Scotland Goes 100% Renewable by 2020

Scotland is currently getting 49.8% of its energy from renewable sources and they are making a commitment to go even higher. Renewable growth is rising rapidly in Scotland and their wind farms are producing record amounts of power. Scotland is making the people’s voice on this issue a priority. In fact, the government’s own polls have shown the 65% of the population support onshore wind power. This is more than support for any political party. Showing us that this subject is not a party issue, everyone deserves are non toxic future.

EWG Encourages Us To Tell Congress We Want GMO Labeling

The Environmental Working Group is at the forefront of keeping Americans in the know about our food. The GMO debate is still ongoing, but no matter what the result, we still have the right to know if GMO ingredients are in the products we buy. The DARK Act would not only allow companies to use GMOs without disclosing, but would also not allow brands to state on the label that they DO NOT use them. We have the right to no if our food is non toxic & EWG is helping us do that. Sign their petition and vote for a transparent future.

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