Behind the Screens

A magic cream that prevents against wrinkles, skin cancer, and sun damage all in one?!

Wow. Maybe I should bathe in it.

Sounds like a great idea. If you don’t take into account that sunscreens haven’t been regulated by the FDA since 1978.

Protecting Child from the sun

So…. What’s really in the white goop our mother’s have been nagging us to slather on every time we leave the house on the sunniest cloudy days? Last year, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) conducted a study where they reviewed over 2,050 sunscreens from over 250 different brands and found that 75% of the white goop we slather on contains toxins hat are proven to increase the risk of melanoma, and other forms of cancer.

The same 19 garbage chemicals are found in our sunscreens today as in 1978, because unlike the UK, which approves more active ingredients for sunscreens every year, the US just keeps renewing the same old garbage because… well… I’m going to let you draw your own conclusions for that one. (Capitalism?)

So let’s talk about a few of these ingredients, most likely found in a any white goop on every shelf of every pharmacy near you!

1) Oxybenxone is the mother of all chemical sunscreens. Possibly the father too.

Over 55% of every sunscreen that you see contains this chemical, which absorbs straight into the skin and was found is 97% of urine samples by a study done in 2008. It disrupts hormones and is linked to breast cancer, has been linked to eczema and allergies, but scariest of all it increases the production of free radicals and actually changes DNA cells. It is responsible for the increase of melanoma among those who use sunscreen, so ironically, the very thing that you shmeer on to stop skin cancer actually causes skin cancer.

2. Octinoxate is the second most readily available active ingredients in sunscreens in the US. It actually is absorbed way deeper into the body than it’s friend Oxybenzone, and it’s actually found in mother’s breastmilk. It messes with the thyroid, and causes serious reproductive issues in animals, because of it’s hormone like activity. Oh and for all of us vain gals and guys out there… It also produces free radicals that are linked to causing premature aging. So no, absolutely not. No no no no no. Get away.

So, what can we do? In the US, not much. But in Europe, there’s hope on the horizon! French companies just invented new chemicals that are safe and really effective, the problem is European sunscreens are still banned in the US. Why, you might ask? Well because the FDA is “considering manufacturers applications.” So basically because the FDA doesn’t want to piss off the cancer causing chemical companies.

In the meantime? Try staying out of the sun.  Or a hat.  They actually have some really cute ones on sale in Forever 21.

(Or do a mineral sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide. Not totally safe, but not as harmful either. Doesn’t absorb into the skin as much, but it has some other issues. Maybe I’ll do a post next week all about mineral sunscreens… Stay tuned for Behind the Screens #2!)sunscreen-ingredients


Tips for your tips


This week, the New York Times published an article about the refusal of  the nail polish industry to go through safety regulations, and the potential health risks of these controversial chemicals. I know I promised a sunscreen post, (and I’ll do it! I promise!) but in the meantime I want to give you all some alternatives to your weekly dose of formaldehyde and acetone, which can be harmful and unsafe for both the nail techs and the clients.

1) Look for nail polish and nail polish removers removers that don’t contain A)  dibutyl pthalate, which has been proven to cause cancer in animals, B) Toluene, which is found in gasoline and can cause headaches, and C) Formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen and can cause blistering and allergies. Acetone found in most nail polish removers can cause dizziness as well, and can be easily avoided by using a healthy alternative. Try something like the odorless nail polish remover by Tates Natural Miracle. 21nuwlCuELL

It actually works, although you need a few extra swipes to fully get the polish off. If you’re stuck on using your normal nail polish remover, make sure you’re in a well ventilated space and you close the cap right away and try not to breathe it in.

2) My two favorite nail polish brands are Spa Ritual and Zoya.  Gorgeous formulas, long lasting, beautiful colors and very pigmented. Spa ritual even do a great peel off base coat, so you don’t need to remove with any harsh chemicals at all! They are both vegan, natural brands that are formulated without the usual toxins mentioned above, as well as others.


3) If your nail salon refuses to explore healthy options, I hate to say it but… Maybe it’s time to switch salons? Two great salons in Brooklyn that do amazing toxic free manicures are Green Spa and Nina’s Spa. They swap out the usual toxins for products like coconut oil which is a natural cuticle moisturizer, essential oils such as rose hip oil mixed with other non essential oils (to soak your nails in the bowl), and best of all they carry all the good toxic free nail and safe polish brands!

Legally Lead- Burt’s Bees Edition

Let me tell you a joke. A bunch of scientists are sitting around a lab developing long lasting lipstick formulations, and one says to the other, “you know what would be really fun? Let’s throw some poison in there!!!”

Not so funny, huh? Well, sadly, in the US, lead is not one of the 10 ingredients that are banned by the FDA in beauty regulation, and is readily available to be purchased by women shopping for lipstick in everything from local pharmacies at $3.50 to exclusive high end boutiques at $79.00. 383_xl_v2

Did you ever think a product from the “natural” and “healthy” brand Burt’s Bees would be banned in Europe? Neither did I, but the lip shimmer in Toffee which the average woman would not think twice about reapplying constantly in order to moisturize her lips while adding a little color contains more than 4 parts of just pure lead aka poison. Burt’s Bees just launched their new summer line, which contains a higher SPF, which is a problem on it’s own that I’m not going to get into now (stay tuned for next blog entry!) and surprise, surprise… It’s completely banned from being sold in Europe!

Feel safe? Feel cared about? Well you should know this as well- the FDA does not even test the pigments that are put into these products at all. Instead, they leave that task up to the manufacturers in order to decide if the product is okay. Right, because the manufacturer is really looking out for the health and safely of the consumers instead of seeing where he/she can cut costs! Thanks FDA, that makes so much sense!!

Women pretty much eat up their lipstick… And in our great country, there’s nobody to stop the big corporations from literally putting poison in our bodies. The difference is, in the US, products need to be proven to be harmful before they are banned, which can take decades and by that time the damage can already be more than done. In the UK, the EUDC has a preventative system, where the products need to be proven safe in order for it to be sold on the market.

Sorry Burt’s Bees lip shimmer in Toffee… You’re gorgeous and you smell nice and I’d love to throw you in my handbag and give you a good shmeer every now and again. But unfortunately… You’re just not worth the poison!

America, home of the poisonous lip-balms!

And this is how something as simple as a lipstick can tell you so much about politics. It’s actually kind of scary.