Friday, June 11, 2010

Yoga in the Park sans Skin Cancer

This past week the weather here has finally begun to feel more like summer, mid to high 20's (celcius) and sunny sunny skies. Sunny weather of course means... Guerrilla Yoga in the Park!

Our last Yoga in the Park happened two weekends ago... and I only remembered that I might need sunscreen when we got there. One hour of practicing yoga in the hot sun next to the ocean and you can be assured I had some key red spots! My arms and shoulders were actually sore for about three days. Skin cancer is not ideal.

The reason we didn't get sunscreen this year was my want for something sans chemicals.

Sunscreens and sunblocks don't just provide a friendly 'stay away please' to UVA, UVB rays, they often contain potential estrogenic mimicking chemicals such as parabens. The Environmental Working Group assessed over 800 sunscreens and proclaimed only 16 percent to be both safe for our health and environment and effective. Oxybenzone, found in 400 products, is a weak hormone disruptor found in the urine of 95% 6-8 year old girls tested... with some freaky ovary producing, oxybenzone showing fish near sewers. Not to mention the loads of other unstable chemicals present in sunscreens and sunblocks (Adria Vasil, Ecoholic).

So instead of protecting our skin from harmful skin cancer, we're slathering on chemical filled creams that are absorbed into our bloodstreams and-or wash down into our waterways creating ovary toting fish (which of course eventually gets re-consumed by us via water system). According to EWG, the FDA failed to finalize it's 1978 safety standards, resulting in an understudied industry.

Here are some pretty troubling EWG statements on sunscreen:
  1. There's no consensus that sunscreens prevent skin cancer.
  2. There's some evidence that sunscreens may increase the risk for cancer
  3. Although there are more higher SPF products out there, there's no evidence proving they're better.
  4. The common ingredient in sunscreen, vitamen A, may speed up skin cancer.
  5. Free-radicals and other skin-damaging chemicals are by-products of sunscreen.
  6. Choosing between nanomaterials and potential hormone disrupting chemicals...(click on the link for detailed discussion on each).

EWG have conveniently put together their 2010 sunscreen guide with an easy rating system. Erin, over at The Conscious Shopper, has recently tried out a sunscreen (and found it wanting). The EWG's FAQ section has a ton of information regarding sunscreen safety (who knew it was so complex??).

Sadly, most of the 'safe' sunscreens are difficult to find in Canada. As Adria Vasil of Ecoholic points out, simply buying a sunscreen from a Health store doesn't assure a free pass on chemical-ville.

Quick tips to keep your Guerrilla Yoga easy on the environment and your health:
  • choose sunscreen with key ingredients zinc oxide, titanium dioxide. If the cream isn't white, than it probably has nano particles... which may be a bit sketchy, but EWG basically thinks they probably aren't. Read their description as to why.
  • Wear protective UVB, UVA clothing (Patagonia has some pretty awesome stuff).
  • Choose sunscreens of SPF 15 or 30. Don't choose anything over SPF 50.
  • Avoid sprays or powders (yum, inhaled chemicals!)
  • avoid ingredient 'retinyl palmitate' (vitamin A) as it may speed up cancer.

The one sunscreen I recognize... Jason's sunscreen. I'll be looking around this weekend for my anti-skin cancer friendly to the trees sunscreen.

Strangely enough, that day practicing in the sun, my face was absolutely fine. Not even a bit of pink. And wouldn't you know I was wearing my mineral powder? Yep. Sunscreen protection. (please don't judge makeup wearing prior to outdoor yoga... it's one of my personal journey processes...).

I hope everyone enjoys the sunny weather and Yoga in the Park! (For those Haligonians reading- Sunday June 13th, Point Pleasant Park Tour Site 10 at 11am :) )


article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. wow! I didn't realize how hard it was to find a decent sunscreen. I'll keep an eye out for Jasons as well!

  2. Thanks for this timely post! I'll have to keep my eye out for some Jason sunscreen too!

  3. Your new layout is perfect! It is exactly what I wanted for the new Five Seed layout - but I had to settle for what Wordpress has.

    Secondly, love your info on the sunscreen - I'll be posting it on FB tomorrow to share with everyone!

  4. Not sure if you can find it up there, but I love California Baby... and that rated well on EWG's list too!

  5. I use NewCO ( which is a Canadian Company (with products actually made in Canada). It uses Zinc Oxide and is SPF 15. It has a large list of ingredients but being me...I checked them ALL on the cosmetics database before buying the product. It works well but I use it in combination with clothing. I try to stay mostly covered up when I am in the sun. Personally I love the look of a tan (especially to hide the veins under my very pale skin!) but I know that with all my moles there is a high potential for skin no tanning for me! See you in the park tomorrow! :)

  6. Choosing sunscreens makes my head explode, especially since I'll only buy vegan/cruelty-free products. Right now I'm using Kiss My Face Paraben-Free on both my face and body. Both have good EWG scores. I might look into the Jason stuff when I run out. It can be so hard trying to do everything right!

  7. Thank you for all of this information. I got the emails from EWG, but I haven't had a chance to read them yet. This is such a tough thing for my family and me. I've tried more eco-friendly sunscreens and gotten burned, so last year we reverted back to the regular brands. But I will try some of these recommended eco-brands this year - hopefully things have improved, or maybe I just picked the wrong ones to try before. Great post!!

  8. Great info and review! I am fair skinned and this was very helpful. A trick that's worked for me the last few years is to get a little bit of exposure to the sun early in the season and limit exposure from there to prevent burning.

  9. I second the comment about California Baby! It's awesome, eco-friendly skin protection :)

  10. The Badger brand was rated #1, and I know I've seen that brand around, just can't remember where, but you might be able to find it.

  11. Just read this article about broccoli extract (taking "being green" to a whole new level! lol) is supposed to work as sunscreen. Very interesting!

  12. Hugh d'EntremontJune 28, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    I have found a brand called Lavera it is SPF 40, works instantly and is vegan.


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