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Paraben Hell: What You Should Know About Your Sunscreen

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The July 8th article in Live Science "Most Sunscreens Fail to Protect " came as no surprise to me. In fact, it seems that most sunscreen companies have been keeping us all in the dark for far too long. Last March, while I was cooking dinner one night and watching my two kids fighting over a toy in the backyard, I got a phone call that would change my life. It was my dermatologist. She told me that a mole I had removed a few weeks back was melanoma. I was in total shock. After a big chunk of my leg was removed and the lab determined that I was in Stage 1 cancer, the fear of never seeing my kids grow up finally began to dissipate. I had faced my fear of death. But how was I going to live? I had to figure out a way to do that in our sun-obsessed, outdoor, year-around sunbathing California culture. This meant no more afternoon beach walks. No more family "Surf Sunday" trips. No more trips to Maui to visit friends. No more afternoons at the park with my kids. "Don't be in the sun between 10 and 4," the doctors told me. Well, my misery knew no limits. Yes, I was going to live, but not in a bubble. I refused. The only answer to my constant question to every doctor I saw was the same - "use a Zinc Oxide SPF 30+ sunscreen, cover up and stay out of the sun." Ok, now I was on a quest. A quest to find the perfect sunscreen. A quest to get my old life back, or at least some sense of freedom. I was driven and determined and probably too obsessed by it, but I found out some pretty scary things along the way.

In my search for the amazing elixir that would banish all my pre-cancerous cells and stop the formation of any new ones, I bumped into some ugly things about our skin care industry. I knew that since I would have to wear sunscreen all over my body every day of the year I began to do some research on what is actually in it. It was pretty shocking. Almost every brand I found contained a preservative called Parabens (menthy, poly, etc.). I also found out that recently scientists have found topical parabens in human breast cancer tumors. So basically anything with Parabens added to it to preserve the product's shelf life will be absorbed into your bloodstream and act as an estrogen mimicker. Then it will bind to estrogen receptors in your body and create a negative feedback system where estrogen-related tumors can flourish. These chemicals are the "Trans-Fats" of the cosmetic world and they are in everything! Even "all natural" products contain them because they are cheap for the manufacturers to use. For years Parabens have been added to our favorite shampoos, conditioners, lotions, moisturizers, makeup and lipsticks. So now I had to protect myself from skin cancer and end up with breast cancer instead. No thank you!

According to my research, more than 60% of your favorite skin care products are absorbed through your skin, which is the largest organ in your body. This means that chemical preservatives, fragrance, coloring agents, and stabilizers added to almost all skin care products are being introduced into your bloodstream every time you apply a cream or lotion. The thought of this can be staggering when you realize how many products most men and women use each day before 8 am.

I finally found a brand called All Terrain (Vanicream is good too, but a bit thick and hard to apply) that is chemical free, Paraben free and uses 9% micronized Zinc-Oxide as a sun blocker (the best you can use for sun protection). And to my delight, they also made a sunscreen for my kids. It is perfect for the body, but I needed something more sensitive for my face. So I use Elta MD, paraben free and SPF 40 on my face and chest every day. But as for my other skin care products, it was really hard to find a natural substitute for my Dior Show mascara or Aveeno lotion. But it is really worth it. I love the Jane Iredale makeup, Alba lotion (only some are paraben- free, so always check labels), and Alba shaving lotion. And that is about it. I have tried lots of things, but nothing else seems to fit my high standards and my needs. As for my kids, i am very protective (as you can imagine) about what is absorbed into their bloodstream. Kid's skin is much more porous that adults, so these toxic chemicals affect them quicker and can have more serious side effects. My favorite is still California Baby Shampoo Sensitive and Fragrance free. I use this for all washing (hair and body) and they use Tom's of Maine toothpaste. That's it for them. Kids don't need a lot of fuss or products. Just clean and simple. Another thing i have added to my diet is Calcium D-Glucarate. It bonds with any toxic estrogen (like parabens) in my body and helps to remove it so that it will not build up in my tissues where estrogen receptors are located (like breast tissue and ovarian tissue, just to name a few).

A great site I have found to check out the toxicity level of a skin care product is: www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. Sometimes they don't always have the products listed, but i have found this site very helpful before I buy anything new. Always educate yourself and don't trust manufacturers. They watch out for their bottom line, not for your health. That is your job!

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