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Green Purse Alerts!

Why My Purse is Green

Because I believe…

  • the fastest, most effective way to stop polluters is by pressuring them in the marketplace
  • women can be the world’s most powerful economic and environmental force if we intentionally shift our spending to the best green products and services
  • women have the power right now to solve many of our most serious environmental problems by using our green purses to make a difference
  • women must act – intentionally, collectively, and with the full force of our purse power behind us – if we hope to leave our children and grandchildren a better world.
  • May 29, 2012

    Safe, Effective, Non-toxic Sunscreens Protect Against Sunburn & Skin Cancer

    Burned feetSunburn season officially kicked off Memorial Day weekend. Are you prepared? After all, you don't want to get skin cancer like me, do you?


    To be protected, you need to reduce your exposure to two kinds of sun rays:

    1) UVA, which causes wrinkling and ageing, and

    2) UVB, which can cause basal cell (what I got) and squamos cell carcinoma.

    Most people rely on some kind of sunscreen or sun block to keep them safe. But according to the EWG Sunscreen Guide compiled by Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research institute that analyses sunscreens and sun block every year right before summer begins, only about 25% of the 1800 products analyzed deliver great protection from the sun without using dangerous chemicals you probably don't want to apply to your skin.

    I've linked to some of the sunscreens that pass muster for safety and effectiveness below. In case you can't remember brand names, here are the ingredients you should look for when you shop:


    * Read the label of any product you're considering carefully. Choose a sunscreen that contains the active ingredient of zinc oxide (NOTE: EWG also recommends titanium dioxide or 3 percent avobenzone, but Marie Veronique Organics, one of EWG's highest rated sunscreen manufacturers, makes a convincing case here for sticking with zinc oxide-based products).

    • Avoid oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor,  and vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or retinol), which may actually increase the risk of skin cancer or other skin problems.

    • Use creams or lotions, not sunscreen sprays or powders.

    • Use an SPF of at least 30, and apply it at least 20 minutes before you need protection.

    • Buy sunscreens that do NOT contain bug spray. Apply bug repellant separately if needed.

    EWG says "the major choice in the U.S. is between “chemical” sunscreens, which break down in the heat and sun, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens (like zinc), which often contain micronized- or nanoscale particles of those minerals."

    After reviewing the evidence, EWG determined that mineral sunscreens offer the safest choice currently. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. Plus, they protect against UVA, a leading contributor to skin cancer. If you don't like mineral products, EWG recommends you use a sunscreen containing 3 percent avobenzone and without oxybenzone, but scientists recommend parents avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns


    Among the best sunscreens EWG recommends are the following, which you can find online, in our own Amazon store, or possibly in your local drugstore or supermarket. All of those listed below have an SPF of at least 30.

    Marie VeroniquesMarie Veronique Organics  - Moisturizing Face Screen SPF 30

    Badger - Lighlty Scented Lavender Sunscreen and Baby Sunscreen with Chamomile and Calendula

    Blue Lizard - Australian Sunscreen, Face

    Burt's Bees - Baby Bee Sunscreen Stick

    California Baby - Everyday/Year-Round Sunscreen Stick and No Fragrance Sunscreen Stick

    Seventh Generation - Baby Sunscreen

    (Here is the complete list of EWG's Sunscreen recommendations)


    Even before you buy sunscreen, think about ways you can protect yourself from the sun.Why? Because people who use sunblock alone may be more likely to get skin cancer, since they actually spend more time out in the sun than those who don't use sunscreen. If at all possible, avoid direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is most intense.

    That doesn't mean you need to stay inside! It's summer, after all, and a great time to enjoy the outdoors. If you're at the beach, take shelter under a shady umbrella when you're not in the water. If you're out gardening, biking, walking, or picnicking, wear long-sleeved cover-ups and capris to protect your arms and legs. If you're strolling about, don a hat and sunglasses to protect your face, neck and eyes.


    Here's are some clothes that are cool and sheer but still effectively prevent powerful sun rays from damaging your skin.


    June 28, 2011

    Skin Cancer is Scary and Ugly. Here's What Mine Looks Like.

    Skin cancer Skin cancer is scary and ugly. I should know. I've had it seven times. And every time, I've had to have it cut out or burned off in order to control it.

    Why do I get skin cancer so often? In part, I'm genetically pre-disposed. My ancestors were northern Europeans from Scotland and Poland, which means they were fair skinned and likely to burn if they spent too much time in the sun. I'm the same way. I freckle first, especially on my face. But then the burn sets in. It takes my skin a very long time to tan, but I can burn in half an hour.

    Burned feet Apart from my DNA, I'm getting skin cancer now because I spent so much time tanning and burning when I was a teenager and young adult. We thought sun tans made us look "cool" (our word for "hot" in those days). Getting a tan in the summer was as important to us as eating ice cream or going to camp. We would slather our bodies with baby oil to "speed the burn" then make sure we were out in the sun during the most intense hours of the day - 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. We wouldn't come in until our skin was so red it seemed radioactive. It seems ridiculous now, but it was what we did then, when no one ever talked about skin cancer. (These burned feet and other photos of sun burn are on Ellen Degeneres' website.I don't have photos of me all burned up as a kid.)

      Skin cancer eye My first skin cancer showed up when I was 38 years old. It was right in the corner of my left eyelid (the picture to the right is not my eye, but that bubble you see below this eye is exactly what mine looked like). My eye had to be anesthetized, and then the cancer was cut off. I walked around for about a week with some unsightly stitches on my face before the scar healed. Soon after, a much larger skin cancer showed up on my chest, right below my collar bone. This surgery was bigger and left a scar about an inch long. Pretty soon, every couple of years, another skin cancer would show up - on my shoulders, my hands, my back, my stomach. Often, my dermatologist could simply freeze the cancer and kill the cells. But recently, a new skin cancer appeared on my upper chest. This one was the most serious of all and required MOHS surgery, a more complicated procedure in which the doctor must cut deeply into the skin and all around the cancer to make sure the entire cancer is removed. It took a week for the incision to scab over, and a few months for the red swelling around the scar to subside.

    Continue reading "Skin Cancer is Scary and Ugly. Here's What Mine Looks Like." »

    Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic Sunscreens: Everything You Need to Know

    Coolibar1 The best way to protect yourself from skin cancer is to avoid getting a sun burn.

    But after you've taken all the right steps - stayed out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., worn a hat and long sleeves, put on sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV exposure that causes cataracts - you'll still need sunscreen. When you do, what's the best, most environmentally friendly, and safest sunscreen you can use?

    The scientists at Environmental Working Group have done the research, and have identified the "greenest" sunscreens you should buy. But just in case you can't remember product names, here are the qualities you should look for:

    #1) Choose sunscreens that contain zinc, titanium dioxide, avobenzone or mexoryl SX. Avoid oxybenzone, Retinyl palmitate/Vitamin A, and added insect repellent. FYI, oxybenzone is a synthetic hormone that can penetrate the skin. Retinyl palmitate can make your skin more susceptible to tumors and lesions. Not good.

    #2) Creams you can rub on are more protective than sprays and powders.

    #3) Broad-spectrum protection that is water-resistant for the beach or pool as well as exercise is optimal.

    #4) Choose an SPF of at least 30 when you're at the beach or pool, but you don't need an SPF higher than 50.

       Sunscreen chart

    Thumb_green What sunscreens does EWG recommend? For your convenience, we're selling several of the safest, most protective sunscreens in our store. Brands include Aubrey, Aveeno, and California Baby. You can also ask for these brands the next time you go shopping.

    Want more info? See our related posts:

    Is your sunscreen giving you a false sense of security?

    Sun-Smart Skin Care

    DEET-Free Mosquito Repellents that Work

     Have any other suggestions? Please leave a comment below.


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