Archive for the ‘Sunscreen’ Category

UVs are aging and damaging your skin year-round. If you’re always looking for natural mineral sunscreens to protect your skin summer through winter you have to check out this sunscreen box. For just $21.95 you get a selection of awesome eco-safe brands: PukoaOrganicsMandaLittle Hands, Surf Durt, A’o Organics Hawai’iGoddess Garden, YeaBah, Soula Organics, Kuleana Sun Protection, Hawaii Peeps… (mix of sample size, travel size, and full sized products! All boxes vary). Order in December and you get a free lip balm! Safe Sunscreen Coalition and Ban Toxic Sunscreens are some of the peeps who worked three years to get the sunscreen bill passed in Hawai’i and sales of these boxes help them produce educational materials. Get yours here: Safe Sunscreen Coalition Shop.

Safe Sunscreen Holiday Sampler Box Ban Toxic Sunscreens Hawaii


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Word is that these chemical sunscreen companies have known about the very serious problems with oxybenzone since 2008 when the first studies started being published. It’s not surprising they have “New & Improved” formulations without oxybenzone ready to go – already filling the shelves at Hawaii’s ABC and other stores right now! Wonder why their lobbyists are still running around the capitol complaining about restrictions on their toxic chemical ingredients. Perhaps because oxybenzone is just the worst offender. Perhaps because as the DLNR stated in their press release, people who care about Hawaii’s coral reefs should also be avoiding: homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate, octocrylene, avobenzone – just some of the ingredients not allowed in Mexico’s marine reserves. Perhaps because so many more efficient non-toxic natural brands are already available and they fear losing any market share.

Will be interesting if they can’t even be behind the game to protect people, sea life, corals by banning sales and use of at minimum oxybenzone in Hawai’i. Don’t worry though, if Hawai’i doesn’t pass a bill, doesn’t make a stand, there are many areas across the U.S. and countries around the world that are presently working on bills and hoping to be the first to put forth an official ban. Perhaps if a ban of these ingredients occurs somewhere else, that can somehow help Hawai’i… if they’re not willing to help themselves.

Oxybenzone Free Sunscreens Better but still not reef safe ban toxic sunscreens Hawaii
If you’d like to send a note to Hawai’i legislators supporting restrictions of oxybenzone and toxic chemical sunscreen ingredients in Hawai’i, do it this week!: reps@capitol.hawaii.gov & sens@capitol.hawaii.gov  Learn more at bantoxicsunscreens.com

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If you haven’t read the full oxybenzone study yet, you should. It’s pretty devastating what this popular sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone is doing to our corals. This barely touches on what it does to other sea life and humans (or the negative effects of all the other toxins in these products). Ask your local stores why they are selling this crap to people and contributing to destroying the ocean ecosystems. Ask the person spraying these all over themselves and their children (and anyone around them) to read this study as well as the many articles available online about the toxicity of oxybenzone and chemical sunscreen ingredients.

FULL STUDY: Oxybenzone and Coral Toxicity

Hawaii Tribune Herald: “Sunscreen Devastating to Coral”
Huffington Post: “Sunscreens Could Be Killing the World’s Reefs, Study Says”

EWG: Guide to Sunscreens


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Thought this an interesting way to advertise health insurance to those who surf; direct-marketed to me on MySpace. So I curiously clicked, and found the Platinum Kaiser Plan is just $195.00 a month (!), for an average Hawaii surfer, who might like swimming with sharks (I’m assuming the sharks in the ocean, not the sharks in the medical insurance industry).

Health Insurance for Surfers

annual death causes

Actually, it is the same story for many shark attack victims – if they’re lucky they deal with a deductible, but a large number who have no coverage are ill-prepared to experience the second stage of the feeding frenzy: bill collectors coming after them for hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. The helicopter ride alone can cost nearly $10,000 (depending on location/remoteness and many plans do not cover medical evacuations). And typical policies don’t often cover needed prosthetics either (a cause Bethany Hamilton has championed – and a bill mandating coverage is nearing passage). It doesn’t have to be a shark attack obviously, surfers get themselves in many other predicaments: from reef to the head to close encounters with a donkey on a longboard. And we need efficient, specific surfer coverage, because it’s not like a car accident – there is no personal info exchanged at the scene, no 1-800 numbers to call. When you’re injured surfing and you’re out for a week, a month, a year -your fault or no-fault- even if you have regular medical insurance it won’t pay the rest of your bills!

So, for the living in the moment surfer, is it worth it to be cautious and protected?

At the very least you want some form of emergency or “catastrophic coverage – which doesn’t include regular doctor visits -or has a huge deductible- but does include major hospital and medical expenses. And if you’re on a surf-safari, especially to a foreign country (for that trip you’re taking this hurricane season to Indo or the Mentawais), it’s worth the peace of mind to get yourself some traveler’s insurance (yes, even on top of your medical – as many insurance companies won’t cover you abroad, and don’t include all the things that can go wrong when traveling). Even many pro-surfers neglect the obvious – and they’re regularly touring around the world, continuously introducing themselves to lovely new forms of bacteria their bodies are not used to. For example, sweet-styley goofy-foot pro Ryan Carlson had to learn the hard way via some staph courtesy of a Puerto Rican sea urchin… and the sh*t-load of bills that came with it.

You’d think pros could afford top-notch health insurance (or perhaps some surfing association would cover them), but unless you’re in the tippy-top rung, often you’re only scoring free gear and some spattering of contest money. Luckily -at least for those well-known in the sport- they seem to be able to rely on the compassion of other surfers, who help out with benefits, surf contests, and other fund-raising efforts. But us regular Joes, usually there’s no big benefit concert waiting for us when we get home from the hospital.

And though many surfers are actually functional citizens, there are a few, ehem, beach bums out there. Those who would opt to spend their last buck on a bar of surf wax before buying a box of band-aids. Many surfers, and athletes in general, rely on the fact that they are decently healthy and fit – yet that doesn’t necessarily protect you from unforeseen. Aussie surfer Richie Lovett had insurance – but with limits (read that fine print), which left him with over $200,000 in bills. Many surfers, like four-time cancer survivor and pro Dean Randazzo, have discovered this the hard way. He started the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation to help surfers with or without medical insurance who have to deal with cancer and its side effects – it’s hard to focus on your fight for survival while the bills are mounting up.

It’s not just skin cancers, suffered by pro Rowen Barrett and pro-mom Jeannie Chesser– we see many with rare bone cancers as well. The skin cancers seem obvious and common side-effects; surfers feel impervious. It’s almost as if they have to – it’s not like they can stay out of the sun while enjoying the sport (and for some reason many wrongly believe their sunscreen lasts more than an hour without reapplying!). For those who get cancer that causes pain in the hip, leg or, like Jason Bogle, their back, often they don’t get it checked out right away, as our mind opts to associate it with some past surf injury, over-exertion, or the joys of trying to bust the moves while getting a lil’ bit older. And since early detection is essential – that’s not a good thing.

Though the medical insurance list of “injuries people are at risk for” includes drowning and shark attacks, it doesn’t include what may be much more of a hazard for surfers, and that is polluted water. Sure, us surfers like to think of our sport as cleansing -and spiritually it always is- but in reality, physically, it really depends on the spot we surf. Often surf breaks occur in run-off zones laden with fertilizers, pesticides, sewage, and all the bacteria the environmental imbalances create, which obviously puts more than 1 in 64,453 -or a yearly total of 64- surfers at risk. If a company were to offer an efficient insurance plan that was specifically designed for surfers, it would have to be a complete package which would include the wide-range of factors surfers contend with every day we go out in the water, wherever we decide to safari. Though there are some companies in Australia and Britain that seem to better understand the coverage needs of the sports enthusiast, for now America is laggin’ behind.

If the life experiences of the surfers who came before us can be a lesson, don’t leave it up to fate. If you surf enough, if you take chances (if the people surfing around you take chances), you’re eventually going to get injured. Surfers consider it part of ‘paying your dues’. Hopefully you’re not faced with a major accident or illness, but if so, the bedridden dreams of getting back into the waves may inspire you to recover in record time, better than you were before. Odds are you won’t need insurance if “the big one bites” but chances are you may find yourself in a situation where you’ll be absolutely stoked you’re covered.

* * * * *

Since plans vary depending depending upon individual needs, age, location…you need to search out what is best for you. Here are a few added links to possibly help – plus some that include alternative therapies. If you are a student there are additional options you should research.:

• If you are a regular surfer in the UK you should consider membership in the BPSA, full membership at 20 pounds a year includes Personal Accident Insurance +£5,000,000 Public Liability Insurance.

• American Specialty Medical Networks My Life Plan Alternative Care Discounts for those with Blue Shield of California

Blue Cross – types of coverage (includes options for international travel) The Blue Cross Health Care Bank a reader mentioned in the comments section.

USA Health Insurance, ehealth insurance, insure me – brokers give you multiple quotes (not available in all states).

International Health Insurance (out of U.S.)

Alternative Insurance (Health Care broker for Cali and Il.) – includes discount card for alternative medicine tratment and services from participating practitioners..

• Check out Benefits Check-up to see if you qualify for benefits in your state.

[Note: if you have a favorite alternative care practitioner, ask what insurance they accept, and then look into those.

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Q: Can someone please recommend a good sunblock I can use while I surf that is waterproof and DOESN’T cause breakouts?
A: I use AcneEyeStingSlipperyHands, SPF WashStraightOff, but I’m thinking about changing.

Mexican SunscreenAfter scanning the numerous “comments” sections of varying websites where everyone is asking everyone else what the heck is the best sunscreen out there, the above (actual quote I found) may be one of the more humorous yet right-on answers you get. Because we all know, no matter how good a sunscreen is, you still burn, still have to reapply, still ponder the ingredients, still aren’t sure if what you’re rubbing all over your skin isn’t worse than getting a little bit of sun.

There has been much debate over whether or not the studies that claim there has been an increase in skin cancers since the heavy marketing of sunscreens over the past few decades is a) because the ingredients can cause cancer, or b) because people are staying in the sun longer because they wrongly assume they are protected. And if we are going to waste our money on and time applying all these products, we’d like to think that what we are using actually works!

There are many people out there who love buying product (okay, I don’t as I’m still meandering in a financially… um… transitional phase, but many functional members of society do). And most savvy consumers are forever looking for the next best miracle cure; products to make everything smooth, smelly, shiny, supple, shapely, soft, sexy… (no idea why all these words started with an “S” but had to run with it). Anyway, when it comes to Sunscreens, you can look, shop, research ’til you’re… red in the face… and still never find the perfect skin protection that’s just right for you. Now as a surfer girl with a surfer-kine website (and every surfer needs some protection), we gotta eventually touch on the topic – especially my skewed view.

This three-part piece includes Part One: Skin Care – The Best Natural Sunscreen; Part Two: The Difficult Task of Recommending a Sunscreen; and Part Three: Why Your Sunscreen May Not Work. I believe part one is the most important of the three, so let’s get started.


Though this might seem oddly timed as we head into winter, it’s always summer in Hawai’i… and fact is, this is when an even more pale breed of tourist, who likely lives in an area that has four distinct seasons, are enjoying their winter vacations either to the slopes or to areas, like Hawai’i, that are close to the equator (meaning they are in prime condition to burn). And since UV rays can get you anywhere, any time of the year, much of these tips can be utilized in one’s day-to-day lifestyle. We’ll start off real basic…


“The skin is the largest organ of our body, therefore it makes sense to feed it with nature’s pure ingredients and not bombard it with chemical preservatives, additives, and artificial ingredients.”

Dr. Bronners Real SoapI copy and pasted that from somewhere – sounds logical. But considering the relatively simple concept, it amazes me what people put on their skin, especially harsh/ perfumey soaps, detergents, creams…. So before we start gobbing on the goop, let’s see where we stand with care of the skin first, as I believe that has much to do with the positive and negative effects sun and sunscreens have on it.

I remember as a kid, mom always bought Dove or Neutrogena brand soap, Phisoderm for the face and Lubriderm skin lotion – all those big brands marketed as being most gentle and of course “doctor recommended” – and how I would spend every night before going to bed itching (well, throw in super-chlorinated water, Tide-kine laundry detergent and fragrant Bounce sheets and you got a nice chemical overload for anyone with dry, sensitive skin. It’s all hard to avoid as the past few generations have been brainwashed via advertising by the chemical corporates that these products are necessary and good for us.). The discovery and availability of eco/healthy alternatives changed the quality of my life to be certain. But a major moment was actually when my friend told me how he never uses soap on his body; I was at first disgusted, then tried it and rarely itched again!

It’s not that I never use soap, but often opt for dry brushing before showering and – girl-kine fun – blend up a few natural body scrubs with varying ingredients like natural oils, shea/mango/cocoa butter, papaya seeds or ground coffee, essential oils… and whatnot). Many natural soaps use pure oils including olive, hemp and coconut as its base; Dr. Bronner‘s included, though the hippies that use it, especially the ones here in Puna, give it a bad rap, leading many to assume it doesn’t work (thought that’s likely because many of these particular “hippies” bathe less often and don’t quite grasp the concept of washing their clothes after each use).

But as far as soaps go, Dr. Bronner’s doesn’t seem to bother my skin. And you can check their web site to get more info on why, especially their amusing video Soap, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, which features the misadventures of one of my fave Ben Is Dead Magazine staff writers and Germs drummer Don Bolles. Don (who never particularly shied away from drug use) was pulled over and arrested for a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s found in his car, which tested positive for the “date rape drug” GHB. (The idea of why someone wouldn’t want GHB in one’s soap was never explained — but it is kinda ironic his punk rock band was called the Germs and he was arrested for having soap) Anyway, in this video, David Bronner, president of the company and Dr. Bronner’s grandson, goes off on how the Police NarcoPouch drug test kit can be used to prove “real soaps” like Bronner’s, Tom’s of Maine, and Pangea come up testing positive, while “detergent soaps” like Dial, Soft Soap, Nature’s Gate “Organics” (all chemical, nothing organic), EO, Kiss My Face, even Jason Organics (“Pure, Natural, Organics” is not pure, natural or organic) have not a molecule of real soap but are actually synthetic petroleum-based detergents – hmmm.

natural soaps 2“Our testing shows that real soaps which are made using the ecological time-honored process of saponification of vegetable oil will always test positive for GHB, while complicated synthetic detergent-based so-called ‘liquid soaps’ test negative,” said David Bronner, with the necessary sense of humor not only regarding the faux-organic labeling being done by questionable companies, but of the police and their psuedo-science which could have easily convicted an innocent person and that despite this fact the Police Department stated they have no intention of changing their testing procedure.

There are some non-soap cleansers that I use and like and are made from all-natural ingredients; it’s just you have to read the labels carefully, because as we see, even buying them from our health food store doesn’tirish spring guarantee they’re “natural” (yes, there are conflicting ideas on the term “natural” as the lack of FDA regulations and people abusing the term, but click link above for logical understanding of terminology).

Besides the weird perfumes used (often even in supposedly “unscented” varieties – re: new Dove formulation), it may be that these chemical “soaps” are giving real “soap” a bad rap. See, detergent-based soaps strip the lipids from the skin. When Hawaiian Bath and Body -located on the North Shore of Oahu in the cute former Waialua Sugar Mill was asked “What makes your soaps different than those you find in the grocery stores? They answered,

The majority of “soaps” that you find in your local grocery store are actually detergents. Detergents are a group of man-made chemicals that were created for industrial cleaning. Imagine using something that is used to de-grease your dishes or remove stains from your laundry on your skin! Most people use these detergents on their skin everyday without realizing how damaging and harsh this product is for their skin. … Your skin is thrown out of balance every time you use a detergent. Because your skin is out of balance, it frantically tries to replace the sebum that has been stripped away and it also struggles with dehydration because the missing sebum plays a large part in helping your skin retain moisture. The most common problems associated with using detergent-based soaps are overly dry, flaky skin, rashes, itching; or sometimes the skin becomes so imbalanced it can produce too much oil trying to re-balance itself!’

There are also other reasons why most soaps suck. In a piece entitled Chemistry 101: Big Giant Soap Myths Exposed the author give some explanation as to why companies give us bunk soaps and the effects caused by our use of them:

The big retail brands rarely contain soap, and the ones that do usually suck out the naturally occurring glycerine to sell as a by-product to other industries because they can make more money than by just leaving it in, where it draws moisture from the air into your skin. Instead, they use chemicals, foaming agents and petrochemicals, which are the leftovers from the manufacture of gasoline and motor oil…. This is also why the big brands are so cheap…. Look for natural oils because they absorb readily into the skin, unlike petrochemicals which just sit on top of the skin, and leave it either greasy-feeling or dried out. Because they just sit on top of the skin, petrochemicals are also believed to act as a barrier that prevents your skin… from doing its other job aside from protecting and keeping your innards in: eliminating toxins and wastes from the system.

Another question to ask yourself is, are you mistakingly using antibacterial soaps? Maybe you are and don’t know it, as now 76% of liquid and 30% of bar soaps contain anti-bacterials. I know the “fighting evil germs and diseases” campaigning was balls-out but it never seemed like a good idea to me so I always avoided the stuff – relying more on pure soap and lotsa scrubbing. Besides irritating skin, clogging pores, there are other more serious reasons to stay clear, like exposing oneself to harmful chemicals, and by killing our beneficial bacteria leaving us susceptible to the more harmful ones. Some of the other cons to its use can be found in articles like “Anti-Bacterial Equals Anti-Health” on the NatureClean website.

What does this have to do with sunscreen? Okay, be patient, stick with me here. Our first piece to this puzzle is what we are doing to our skin that is causing it to be more susceptible to the sun’s rays, and that is stripping it of its natural oils; leaving the organ with no protective barrier. As far as soaps go, read your labels closely. Though with faux-natural and major brands there is no reason to necessarily trust they list everything that goes in it (as with the broad umbrella terms like “fragrances” or items unlisted because they are considered “trade secrets”), or that you will understand what makes up those strangely-named ingredients. At least try to find those that are less harsh on the skin. (Skin Deep reviews products for toxicity, as does the Green Guide, and Debra’s List links you with environment and health conscious companies). One thing’s for certain, if the soap says “deodorant bar” or “cleansing bar” etc., you can likely be certain it’s not an all-natural product (and an environmental no-no to be using it at your beach shower).

skin care


As far as facial cleansing goes, there may not only be kinder products, but better methods. Sure we have to wash our face, get the dirt off, but I also think there is a disservice one is doing by always scrubbing/lathering off all the natural oils and replacing them with expensive (often synthetic lotions). While most do it to prevent the effects of aging skin, I believe done too often and at the wrong times of the day it has the opposite results; leaving one more exposed to the elements. People need to shift their focus, from products they buy to protect their skin, to equally supporting the body’s natural efforts to protect one’s skin.

HUMAN SEBUM ROCKS!henna sunblock

So here’s my tip of the day and the impetus for this article: The best moisturizer and sunblock -first and foremost- are the skin’s natural oils! As far as I can tell, after many years in the sun, the best sunscreen I have ever used is the one secreted by my skin. And the best thing one can do to take advantage of them, is to not scrub these oils off one’s skin before going out into the sun! Yes, I am saying do not wash your face -or even your body- before you go surf. Sure, if they could bottle human sebum they would and people would buy it; but hey, it’s free! Human Sebum has an SPF of 6-8! Try it, you’ll like it!

So sitting at the coffee shop, almost done writing this piece, while still searching for the SPF of sebum, which was strangely difficult to find, it thankful led me to this report in the Canada Medical Association Journal by Dr. Ralph Douglas Wilkinson entitled, “The Xerotic Nephrologist” which not only gave me the answer, but supported my completely unscientific theory regarding proper care of the skin before sun exposure:

Homo erectus existed for over a million years using the cool-water, no-soap system. The earth’s general fauna still use this system, which removes sweat without disturbing the waxy barrier. Housing and clothing have afforded us much protection, and our lipid layer has become somewhat expendable. A duck, however, would sink without its waxed feathers. For older people, preteens and people with very dry skin, emollients in the form of oils, lotions or creams may offer some help. If necessary, lotions without potential irritants such as perfumes, dispersants and preservatives can be used. Human sebum has a tendency to oxidize to a brownish hue, much like earwax. It is the “ring around the collar.” Sebum has a sunblock action estimated to be about SPF 6–8. Its removal may lead to cleaner collars, but it leaves the skin at higher risk for sun damage. The sun can cause skin damage on bald spots, which are sebum poor. The incidence of skin cancer on the head and face is high in North America. So is the use of soap and shampoo. Are they causally related? Sun damage in the child may be more severe than in the adult. Is this due in part to the absence of sebum in the pre-adolescent? My advice: wash with cool water, minimize or eliminate the use of soap, and wear a hat!

sebum sweatHe also mentions eccrine sweat and salty/acidic residue on face which, if it occurs after washing when the skin is no longer protected by its waxy barrier, can be very irritating… Yes, you may feel you’re successfully removing the sweat by scrubbing with soap and hot water, but the imbalance is that it can return in seconds, while sebum can take hours. Even hot water alone can cause sebum breakdown – sebum melts at 30°C. And where is a surfer most likely to get burned?: face, neck, shoulders, upper arms, back… all places we soap, scrub, and which receives the most impact from the shower jet.girl in hot bath

When a surfer wakes up in the morning, they should wait to wash their face – and body – with anything more than cool water until after their surf session. At night utilize your light facial cleansers, gentle scrubs, masks. Though Dr. Wilkinson recommends avoiding hot water – especially if you’re experiencing skin problems that could be instigated by over-washing – there are essentials like hot baths, jacuzzi’s and saunas (that are great muscle relaxers for surfers); but keep ’em natural (no bubbles! no colors!) and enjoy them at night. Also preferably in the evening, an occasional steaming – for oily or dry skin – or a super soft hot washcloth placed on the face feels as sweet as it does at the Japanese restaurant. However you like to cleanse, simply search out and invest in the best quality, most pure, least irritating variety for you (best to avoid the regular grocery store for such a purchase) and make the impetus of the cleansing occur later in the day or when you will not be exposing yourself to the elements. If you must bathe morning or afternoon, replace the natural oil with moisturizers that will best mimic sebum (read on) and avoid the sun for at least a few hours afterwards.


UmbrellaMy too-sensitive skin -and eyes- can’t handle most popular moisturizers, so I’ll opt for light serums and creams by Zia, John Masters, Pangea, some of the MyChelle Dermaceuticals. I most often mix my own creams or more often “butters”, which usually contain a mix of cocoa, shea, mango. As well, I keep on hand refreshing sprays for the face and body, as it seems to keep one from having to constantly wash the face – especially in humid locales like Hawai’i, which can oft leave you feeling sticky and dirty. They are also nice to cool off with and vital for hydrating the skin during plane travel! Rose Water (Heritage Products is the least expensive -$3 for a 4oz bottle), Caudalie Grape Water (yum! If you’re in Hawaii best to buy it from Sephora while on Oahu because of the bottle design Caudalie can only ship it ground), and finally MyChelle’s Fruit Enzyme Mist “a hydrating, anti-inflammatory, age defying toner with heavy water and phospholipids for all skin types” – whatever, it works. I also try to dab off oils ‘n’ dirt as much as possible; like the beautifully-skinned Asian women, keep those tissue paper blotters handy, instead of washing to curb the shine (in a pinch or on a budget, toilet seat covers work, no really).


“Oil instead of soap was used to remove dirt and grime.”

That was one of historical consultant Jonathan Stamp’s factoids displayed in the text embellishments for HBO’s awesome television series Rome (episode entitled “Utica” where Titus Pullo is being bathed) – oooof, I miss that show!

I surprised my friend the other day with coconut oil’s ability to clean the skin – took motor oil off a grease monkey in just a few wipes! It’s simply an amazing cleanser, which (as mentioned previously) is why real soap is based around it, but it’s also one of my favorite “skin creams” for dry legs (no matter that it’s thick and considered “comedogenic” – that’s why you blend it). As well it makes (again blended) a lovely massage oil and, FYI, the most awesome natural lube!

jojobaBesides Argan (which can have a iffy scent) my other fave skin and hair oil is Jojoba (Hawai’i people should get those on the mainland with Trader Joe’s access to ship you a box). Jojoba isn’t actually an oil but a wax. It has great healing qualities including being antibacterial, anti-oxidant, soothing, conditioning. It contains protein, minerals, and a waxy substance that mimics collagen. Unlike most vegetable oils it is chemically similar to human sebum, so it actually penetrates because the skin accepts it as a sebum, while at the same time it will not clog pores. These qualities are great for acne-prone/rosacea type skin, as well as rehab from negative effects of the sun. It works for all skin types: as a matter of fact, if your skin has an over production of sebum it will dissolve clogged pores and restore the skin to its natural PH. There is scientific research proving that “jojoba can increase skin softness by up to 37%, reduces superficial lines and wrinkles up to 25% upon application and up to 11% after 8 hours. (And hey, it’s a lot more cheap, simple and pure than concocted products that’ll make such claims).

Lots of high-end products tout their use of Squalene – derived from olive pits – which may be considered the closest comparable ingredient to human sebum, and with its natural emollients, gives the velvety feel that soothes the skin while replacing the necessary oil. Other oils that act like those naturally produced by the human skin includes: Macadamia Nut, Sweet Almond (similar to baby’s sebum), Sesame Oil, Shea Butter…and most seem to have an SPF of at least 4.

Oh, and in case you want to check your favorite oils, Moose Creek Bath and Body has a good list of the clogging probability of oils and ingredients. Since the term “non-comedogenic” is not regulated by the FDA or any other organization, a cosmetics company can make this claim regardless of proof or substantiation of any kind.


Citrus Body ScrubOne thing I’ve noticed in many products is the use of essential oils that are photosensitizing – meaning when applied they make your skin more susceptible or sensitive to the influence of ultraviolet light. Some may wrongly assume this will help them tan faster, similar to lemon on the hair causing it to bleach, but in this case it will only cause burning: reactions ranging from mild reddening to severe sunburn, often followed by hyperpigmentation. The obvious culprits are citrus oils but the list includes: angelica, bergamot, orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, yuzu. Some recommend avoiding the sun when using carrot oil – as in Retinoid and other Vitamin A skin treatments – though because it’s acts as a preservative it is often found in face creams and some sunscreens ironically enough. If you like creams with such active ingredients, use them later in the day or at night. Some products like Proactiv® and dermatologist prescriptions for acne and rosasea can cause more skin problems if you don’t completely avoid the sun while using them. Ask your doctor!

As well, with more and more people indulging in massage/spa treatments, if there is any potential for sun exposure after, you’re best to ask if there are any photo-sensitizing oils in their products. Massage therapists are usually aware and use such oils only late afternoon and evening or tell their clients to keep covered or wash off before they go in the sun (for the most part they should evaporate within a few hours, though many recommend waiting to sun bathe for at least 12 hours after the massage).


bare minerals make-upI know a lot of people have to wash more often because they wear make-up. And people often wear make-up because make-up has played a part in ruining the quality of their skin, so they need to cover it up; a never-ending cycle. I’ve always just avoided the heavy stuff – foundation looks horrible on me and my skin hates it; it actually makes it look as if it can’t breathe. If you can, try to avoid liquid foundation, perhaps only use cover-up or clay-based whitening-pens on dark spots, and instead try a light natural mineral powder. They’re less irritating for most skin types; though it’s important to make certain you keep the tools (brushes) clean. On top of that, the mineral powders – containing minerals like zinc and titanium – are an efficient sunblock; many of these mineral facial and body powders are actually marketed specifically as sunscreens. A few things to watch out for: 1) Titanium is sketchy. Research it first. I prefer non-nano-size zinc. 2) Watch out for all the cheap fillers added to powders. For example, I can not comprehend why major cosmetic companies still use / customers still purchase talc. We’ve known for a long while now that talc’s structure is very similar to asbestos and is best to avoid when there are more safe alternatives.

Responding to this evidence in 1973, the FDA drafted a resolution that would limit the amount of asbestos-like fibers in cosmetic grade talc. However, no ruling has ever been made and today, cosmetic grade talc remains non-regulated by the federal government. This inaction ignores a 1993 National Toxicology Program report which found that cosmetic grade talc, without any asbestos-like fibers, caused tumors in animal subjects. Clearly with or without asbestos-like fibers, cosmetic grade talcum powder is a carcinogen.) … Since the early 1980s, records show that several thousand infants each year have died or become seriously ill following accidental inhalation of baby powder. Exposing children to this carcinogen is unnecessary and dangerous.

On the Cancer.gov web site it explains:

Talc is a “finely-powdered native hydrous magnesium silicate” and that “when administered into the pleural space, talc initiates an inflammatory reaction, resulting in adhesion of the visceral pleura to the parietal pleura and fibrosis, thereby effectively closing the pleural space.”

Fact is, I’d avoid breathing in the dust of any minerals. Regardless of whether a proper scientific study has been done or not, when small dust particles get into the lungs, the lungs don’t like it. So, even while applying the most “natural” of these mineral-based powders, make an effort not to inhale.

The Green Guide goes into detail about the use of minerals in cosmetics and their actual ingredients.

As there is no set definition for the term “mineral makeup,” any product that contains minerals as a primary ingredient may be touted as such, although it may also contain some unhealthy chemicals.

Some companies are conscious of people’s concerns. Check out ElyOrganics whose line utilizes zinc and claims: “No nano-particles, no dimethecone coatings and no titanium dioxide is ever used in Miessence mineral based cosmetic products.”


Coconut Oil Skin CareAnd finally, there’s something to be said regarding the foods we consume as part of our skin care regime. We’ve heard too often that we need to include natural – high omega – oils in our diet. I fiend for Greek olives, adore olive oil, and wonder if my Sicilian instincts don’t kick in some when it comes to providing extra protection for my “olive” skin. I certainly think most salad dressings are junk considering you could take advantage and get your natural oils easily in your dressing (flax seed oil, mix in some coconut vinegar and shoyu and you’ve got salad dressing in under 30 seconds). Or for the even more eternally lazy, mix some flax, hemp or extra virgin organic olive oil into your regular dressing. Including steamed fish into the mix works. I like poached salmon salad (simply steam it), adding arugula, avocado, fresh goat cheese, pine nuts or hemp seeds – surprisingly quick and easy to make. Though those close to me know I am a butter (ghee) whore, a good way to get healthy fat is dipping one’s bread in some high quality oil too. Any way you can consume some virgin coconut oil will be a plus.

Yes, healthy oils are the way to go. I wouldn’t be surprised to find some scientific correlation to people eating hydrogenated fats, and/or avoiding and cutting out healthy fats from their diet to making them more susceptible to the sun, cancer and wrinkles. It’s strange the pharmaceutical industry are producing -and people are buying- such weight loss drugs like “Alli”, which pulls the fat out of your meals, causing involuntarily explosive oily bowel movements; leaving one to try to digest an imbalanced mix of carbs and proteins (and without any fatty oils left, I imagine what remains in your colon is some serious constipation). Also, we know –don’t we?– that avoiding fat keeps one hungry and prone to eating more. And studies done on the weight lose results for those taking these pills is not positive. Though you see all the commentary and reports on the “good” and “bad” fats, diet-obsessed America seems ingrained with the notion that by eating fat they will become fat. I guess it supports the obsessive/compulsive, indulge/avoid, right/wrong mentality… not superfoodsto mention fodder for many AA meetings and psychology sessions and best selling books on the next best weight lose plan. Common sense – and a sense of how you feel when eating specific foods – should dictate.

Supplementations and consumption of foods that supply proper nutrition/vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that support skin and bones seem intelligent choices. Foods might include so-called “superfoods” and fruits (with high phytonutrient content) like: gogi berries, blackberries, pomegranate, acai, raw chocolate, chlorella, spirulina, to boost your skin’s natural UV protection. Antioxidants like a natural Vitamin C should be utilized daily. As well supplements like: Vitamin D (especially during winter, or times when you are not getting some daily sun exposure), astaxanthin (takes about 30 days of nutrition to boost skin levels) and MSM (magical stuff makes skin more permeable and pliant; preventative and promotes faster healing from sunburn) [for info on noni healing sunburn/blisters click here]. Magnesium (preferably transdermal) and silica (colloidal) are magic. Try yogurt, acidophilous, herbs and/or foods that help regulate colon function (after a good cleanse if needed) as your skin often seems to offer a visual on the health of your colon and liver. As well, stress and sleep deprivation makes one not only unhappy, unhealthy, and unproductive, it also keeps thatdrinking kava sallow, unglowing complexion that can’t easily withstand elemental factors; try Vitamin B (sublingual) for the stress, and Kava or Valerian Root (herb blends) at night to enhance relaxation naturally. A

Obvious as it is, drinking tons of pure water just can’t be beat for hydrating and protecting the skin. And of course the opposite holds true, so best to mellow out on anything too dehydrating like sodas, caffeine, alcohol and high sugar beverages when enjoying those outdoor activities. All of these things will hopefully give you an advantage, so you aren’t relying solely on topical sunscreen products and find yourself dismayed when they continually let you down. That said, utilizing the info in this article AND finding a eco-conscious natural sunscreen (and a big beach hat) will keep your skin happier and healthier. Let’s look hot surfing into our ’90s – well, why not try!

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wahine hairThere’s one thing every girl who surfs has in common. I mean, besides our love for the ocean and the requisite health and physical benefits. One of the downsides is, we all have hair problems. Just think of putting a fine strand of silk in salt water and then letting it bake in the sun, dry out, then wetting it again, then letting it dry… and repeating this for hours at a time, sometimes weeks in a row (ah, if we’re lucky). After collecting tips from hairdressers and other surfin’ wahines, I have compiled a list of the best-kept secret hair tips for the girl in the curl

1) Wet your hair before you go out into the water. (This tip was gifted to us by Gwen at Paul Marie Salon in Hilo – check ’em out, they give good head…of hair…) Hair, when dry, acts like a sponge, absorbing water into it. Having it absorb regular water first will prevent it from absorbing the salt. And you may question the ability of hair to absorb large amounts of anything. But any long-haired girl who surfs can attest to the weight that is added to her head as her neck is being annoyingly tugged back. Just to emphasize its absorbency, NASA studies have indicated that hair may be a very useful tool in cleaning up oil spills. Future fem scientist Marguerite Blignaut, at the Kentucky Junior Academy of Science, followed it up with her own study and concluded: “Hair absorbs the oil which means the oil collects under the surfaces of the hair fibers. I used human hair in mesh bags and floated them on 10w40 oil-water mixtures. After two days I removed the bags and let them dry. An increase of mass indicated the amount of oil absorbed. I found that human hair does remove oil from the water surface and that straight dark brown hair seemed to be the most efficient.” Thanks Marge, good to know.women surf classic

Does this mean they’re using hair to clean up oil spills? Nah, they prefer to douse the ocean with toxic chemicals from companies that they own shares in (hello BP disaster). It more likely explains why it’s so hard to get the oil off of the poor birds. And it becomes clear that, whatever your hair absorbs while it’s out in the ocean, likes to hang out in the fibers, so why not have it already absorbing at maximum capacity before you enter the salt water.

2) Apply some conditioner onto your hair as well. You apply sunscreen to keep your skin protected (preferably eco-safe, reef-safe, water-resistant options), why not something to protect your hair? This works best on damaged, coarse, and thicker hair. Apply when dry (with water) to coat the hair strands and keeps them extra-protected and prohibit them from absorbing the salt water. Even in the surf, my thick hair holds it in (particularly if I do Step 3).

Some surfer girls like to use the cheapest products on their hair pre-surf because “it’s just going to come off anyway”. Problem is, it’s coming off in the water! Keep in mind, as with chemical sunscreens, many of the ingredients in hair conditioners are toxic to corals. Avoid parabens, oxybenzone (benzophenone derivatives), propylene glycol… to name a few. Even products from health food stores can contain questionable preservatives as well as natural and essential oils (from jojoba to eucalyptus) that are harmful to corals.

awapuhiThe only manufactured conditioner I like these days is Acure Organics. Otherwise I find it easier, less expensive, and much more natural to grab ingredients straight from the environment here Hawai’i. If the awapuhi is going off (which it does a few times a year), you gently take the flower head, tilt it over and squeeze it just enough for a watery fragrant gel to emerge, and apply it straight to your hair (it’s lovely on the skin as well). This I use as a daily leave in – pre-surf and post surf.When the plant is not flowering, I rely on fresh coconut milk as my hair rinse or leave in conditioner. Not coconut water, not coconut oil, and not coconut milk from a can, but blended and nut-bag filter milk from the fresh coconut meat (since I make it for my morning coffee anyway, it’s easy – I’ll include a link to my recipe when I post it). This can be made with dried coconut shavings as well – though if there’s a fresh option that’s always the way to go. In Hawai’i if you can’t climb a tree and grab one for free, you can usually find coconuts for a buck from fruit and veggie stands in front of local homes of farms. On the very ends of my hair if it’s particularly dry, or extra frizzy, I add a dab of argan, kukui nut oil, or a tiny bit of cocoa butter. My hair prefers when I change it up a bit, despite scientific claims to the contrary. Oh well, these same scientists still don’t believe women “bloat” before their period. ;P

3) Braid your hair. If your hair is long enough, braid it! This will protect the hair from drying out and getting too much exposure. The braids will also hold that conditioner in. And hey, maybe even keep it out of your face while you’re going for that huge airdrop take-off. The best bet is using a hair tie at the top of the braid, and one at the bottom, so you’re not losing the hair ties in the water. Not sure if turtles are able to digest those things but I’m guessing the less lost hair rubber bands the better.

4) Rinse your hair out immediately after surfing! Very often us surfers pour a jug of water over our heads or a quick rinse at the showers and leave it at that. Well… there’s likely still some salt in your hair and is still drying your hair out (especially if it dries whilst exposed to the sun). Best to give it a quality rinsing when you get home.

5) Eat Right for Healthy Hair! Veggies are essential but vegetarians/vegans should make sure to supplement with some healthy fats / oils. Get your Vitamin B’s and B-12 sublingually – highly advised for everything from stress to breakdown of carbs to glucose. Minerals are also good for your hair, and magnesium oil, applied topically, will not only help for all the post-surf aches, but as a bonus keeps the gray at bay. Gaia Hair, Skin, & Nail Support is rich in minerals, like silica, that promote healthy hair (best to use it daily to see positive results). Chemical exposure, medications, alcohol consumption, smoking, caffeine, stress and lack of sleep can affect the look and appearance of your hair (including hair loss). Basic theory: do whatever keeps you healthy, happy, strong. Lucky most of us surfer chicks do just that!

6) Be careful of over-shampooing the locks. Many water girls use conditioner as their “shampoo” – myself included. But you should still shampoo once a weak to clean build-up and start anew. Try to avoid the overly harsh toxic WalMart-kine hair care. You can make your own with Skikakai, hibiscus, Amla (here’s an example of a recipe – I think for thick / curly hair it’s better to strain in cheese cloth before applying). As far as manufactured products, again, I like Acure Organics. John Masters Zinc & Sage Shampoo is pretty gentle on surfer grrl abused hair (but can you guys take out the sodium benzoate please, thanks). We’ve heard good things about Yarok Feed Your Moisture Masque – looks relatively clean (albeit pricey), we’ll have to test it out.

7) Don’t brush your hair while it’s wet. Flash back to a Museum of Science and Industry (Los Angeles) back in the ’90s. One part of the exhibit had a huge display showing before and after microscopic images of the human hair brushed when wet vs. brushed when dry. Suffice to say…don’t brush your hair while it’s wet. Coconut Girl Wireless contributor and my very big-haired surfing cohort Ms. ReefRash sez she won’t be able to get the knots out otherwise. Copy that! If that’s the case with you, use a quality thick-toothed comb or a very gentle natural bristle brush; get the hair lightly damp and apply a dollop of  leave-in conditioner first before workin’ on it. Then do so gently and hold the hair so it doesn’t stretch and snap.

8) Wear a hat! Protect the hair while protecting your face. Reefrash wears a hat when surfing because she is about as white as a haole girl can get (nah, they can get a little mo’ white).

*  *  *

Hawaiian women were known (are still known) for their lovely long brown hair. Was it the coconut treatments they did after swims? Was it their rich diet that included poi, banana, papaya, lilikoi, coconut, sweet potato, breadfruit, laulau, fish and seafood? Maybe drawing from a gene pool (including those of the Asian races that have mixed here) that is renowned for their beautiful skin and luscious hair doesn’t hurt.

Even if we aren’t blessed with perfect DNA, there are things we can do to have our optimum healthy hair. Some of these tricks should help balance out the abuse us surfer grrls put our hair through.

If you have any thoughts on the matter or product tips they’re always welcomed. Have a great hair day!

Hey, by the way, this is very important – disclaimer!: No health or medical or dietary advice should ever be considered without the approval of your omnipotent physician. Make sure on your next visit you ask what hair care products he/she uses! LOL. All seemingly knowing advice that appears within this article are simply humble opinions to be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, same grain of salt we are protecting your hair from…. meowxo

[article last updated 1/5/2016]

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