Sun vs. Sunscreen

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Enjoying The Hawaiian Sun



By: Holly Pellham Davis


Who knew sunscreen could be so controversial? But, as with most products containing chemicals brought to us by cosmetic companies, it's all to common today. So what are the best products available? What do we look for and how do we best protect our families from the possible harmful effects of too much sun?


We know the sun’s radiation, UVA (long wave) and UVB (short wave, most damaging) rays cause free radicals to increase in the skin.

Sun exposure damages cellular DNA, increases the signs of aging and increases risk of skin cancer. But before you run inside and put your caftan and XL brimmed chapeau on, that awesome star of our galaxy has some major benefits to health also. Let’s chat about a couple of those first.


           Vitamin D:      It’s actually not a vitamin at all, it’s a hormone.

(Background: In the 1930’s the dairy industry began fortifying milk with “vitamin” D)  Vitamin D is vital in mineral metabolism, supports the immune system and is essential to bone health and growth making it especially important to developing children. Recent studies demonstrate the importance of healthy levels of Vitamin D and a wide range of benefits to our health, specifically a reduction in risk of colon and breast cancer. Recent trends show Americans to be deficient in vitamin D due to the use of sunscreens which block the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin and the overall decrease in outdoor activity. To increase  your bodies vitamin D hormone, simply get direct sun (meaning without sunscreen) skin exposure for about 20 minutes per day. Your body will naturally  produce the hormone vitamin D you need.  Vitamin D supplements can be taken daily for those not wanting the direct sun approach, in addition to a diet rich in foods that support Vitamin D production such as wild salmon, organic free range egg yolks and mushrooms. 


         Be Happy.       Sunlight makes us happy. Like the chemical reaction in the body that causes the hormone, vitamin D to be produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight, the body has similar reactions that release other hormones and signals to the brain and body. Sunlight exposure helps regulate our sleep cycle, decrease stress and depression. Making a short daily dose of sun part of your wellness regime can be life changing.


So, what about skin protection for everyday exposure or the pool days of Summer?


Here are some tips and guidelines to ensure protection from exposure to harmful rays as well as potentially harmful chemicals commonly found in sunscreens:


  • Clothing, the first line of defense: Shade and protective clothing including hats, shirts and sunglasses are among your first lines of defense. Sunglasses or water googles with UV added protection for the eyes is also strongly advised for children and adults alike.
  • Stay out of O-Zone: Avoid sun exposure on high ozone days which can increase free radicals, skin damage and exacerbate problems with breathing. 
  • Liberal Application: Apply a BROAD SPECTRUM, (Block both UVA & UVB Rays) Sunscreen often and a LOT of it. Tests reveal, in order to have maximum protection, sunscreen must be applied in a large dosage that delivers the product completely over the skins surface. Half the “dosage” only gives half the protection.
  • Don’t get High on Numbers: Resist the temptation to get caught up in a numbers game when choosing sun protection. Products boasting SPF 50 do not always translate to greater UV protection or that you can stay in the sun longer. Go for an SPF in the 30 range, apply often and take breaks from direct exposure by seeking some shade.
  • NO SPRAY Sunscreens: Deep breath. This is a hot issue for me. Spray sunscreens should be banned from existence. Harmful chemicals are inhaled and can enter the bloodstream through the lungs with the possibility of causing damage to vital organs. In addition, many sunscreens contain powder, talc and other micro, nano properties that can be harmful if inhaled. The FDA recently banned all SPF (nano) from loose mineral powders, due to this health risk, but exempt small companies to make the change until December of this year. (Say what?)  If you must use a spray, please refrain from applying in public places as it will put others at risk. 
  • No Mixing: Don’t mix Sunscreens and Insect Repellants. It’s simply a toxic chemical cocktail. Use light colored clothing in addition to layering your mineral based sunscreen first, then apply your deet-free insect repellant. (More on that another time.)
  • No-Go Ingredients: Refrain from using any sunscreen product (including lip balms) containing these commonly used chemicals:

          Oxybenzone and/or Octinozate- Both have been shown to cause reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption and hormone mimicking activity in humans. These chemicals are highly toxic and pose significant risk to people as well as animals and aquatic life. 

           Retinyl Palmitate (vitamin A)- Research shows retinyl palmitate acts as a photo carcinogen, speeding up the development of skin tumors and legions on sun, UV radiation exposed skin. With sun exposure alone, free radicals are are formed and damage to DNA strands occur which contribute to the cause of skin cancer. With the presence of vitamin A, that skin damage increases, including tumor and lesion growth, compared to those without vitamin A.  In my own research over the last several years, I examined the findings of studies such as this one and strongly believe retinyl palmitate should not be used in sunscreens, skin lotions or other applications for sun exposed skin. It can take 10-15 years for this type of research to reach mainstream and be “applied” to products. I want you to be informed now. Read your labels carefully.    


Best choices for sunscreens are mineral based, zinc oxide & titanium dioxide.

Despite the fact sunscreens and loose powder mineral makeup with SPF contain nano particles which carry a risk of inhalation, mineral based sunscreens are safer and less toxic, making them a better choice than chemical sunscreen varieties. Zinc oxide is king. Keep in mind the sunscreens that cause you to look like Casper, have lower levels of nano sized particles in them. We can all stand a ghost effect in the name of health and true anti aging benefits can’t we? 


Some of my trusted, personal favorite sunscreens in my beach bag for kiddos include California Baby Sunscreen stick which I love for the easy application to the kids face and shoulders, Aubrey Organics is a brand I totally trust. The SPF lotion goes on a little thick and white so the kids may bark a bit, but this mom loves its protection!


And, for me it’s Devita’s SPF 30 for body  and Renee Rouleau’s spf 30 moisturizer for face. 


If you would like to dive into the deep end of sunscreens a little deeper, check out  Environmental Working Group’s “Guide to Safer Sunscreens”! You can find the complete report here  which includes awesome information including ratings on the sunscreens they tested. 


Here's to a safe summer vacation!


Holly Pellham Davis




Love, Respect, Responsibility for our home, Planet Earth

by Holly Pellham Davis




We see evidence of Global Warming and our Earth in distress all across the  globe with headlines of drought, violent weather storm patterns, science fiction-like algae taking over lakes and all that is in them, sea levels rising, species of plants and animals becoming extinct or deformed, acidic oceans killing thousands of fish and other aquatic life, a slew of plastic  in the Pacific Ocean the size of the state of Texas. 


As our precious Earth suffocates under a blanket of Co2, we too are dying a slow death.    You simply can not separate the relationship between us. What we do to the Earth, we do to our bodies and worse, to our children. We must reverse the pattern that has been set in motion and each person has to do their part. Through educating ourselves and teaching our children that we are responsible for the health of our world through the daily decisions we make, we can make a difference.


Top offenders against the health of our Earth are:  vehicle emissions, trash, plastics, fertilizer, deforestation, coal fired plants and industrial emissions.  


Key ways to begin making a difference:

Conserve, reduce energy use in your home.  Energy star appliances, Radiant Barrier Insulation such as reflectix, put a plan in action to reduce energy use, such as thermostat settings, lights off, unplugging unused devices, etc. have each family member sign the commitment agreement.  Use alternative energy sources such as solar energy or wind energy.


Transportation choices: Vehicle emissions leave one of the largest carbon footprints on Earth. Not only is it the greatest polluter of the air we breathe leading to cancers, asthma and brain disease, but burning these fossil fuels is also causing the Earth to be diseased and sickened due to the blanket of carbon covering us.  Reduce heavy duty trucks, petition to stop producing and slowly cut out diesel engines. Plan to carpool / ride share, use community transit, purchase and drive only high fuel economy vehicles, reduce your driving time by planning out any daily trips and cutting idle driving time. Turn off your car during carpool.


Stop the use of Fertilizer at your home, office, city parks and schools. Excess nitrogen (fertilizer) in water and soil kills the life giving oxygen in our air and water.  When applied to the yard and or soil, the nitrogen is heated from the sun and evaporates into a gas into the air, rising up to form a blanket which warms the Earth. The same fertilizer is responsible for the horrific algae blooms, as it runs off the land into gutters, alleys, waterways, ponds, rivers, lakes and oceans strangling the oxygen, killing almost all life except for algae, noxious fish and jelly fish. Contact your local officials and inquire about what chemicals are applied to parks, fields and community land. Educate others on the dangers and petition them to stop. Build awareness. Cease all use of all “lawn greening” products every where you have influence. Have a no bag policy in place for your lawn clippings. Mow over them and nourish the soil naturally. Your yard and the air (no trapped gas), will love you!


Reduce,Reuse,Recycle, Respect, Responsibility... & Ban Plastic:  


We have all heard of the     You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video“3 R’s”     and most can probably sing the Jack Johnson song, but when the rubber meets the road, do we actually practice it? As usual, having a plan in order is supreme. Reduce your water use. Turn off the faucet, don;t keep it running. Install water & energy saving shower heads like this one:

Available at Home Depot and most Hardware stores

Plant native landscape. Use Reduce the amount of trash you create by evaluating the current trash you have. Devise a plan to at least cut it in half. Buy in bulk. Reuse glass containers to store foods in. Reuse bags, clothes, electronics, etc. Simply don’t just throw anything away.. PURPOSE a PLACE for it... give it another life plan through reuse or recycling. Beware of toxic recyclables and reusables such as tires, synthetic rubber, PVC, most plastics and all styrene, styrofoam.


Purchase only items that will last and not negatively impact the environment. We have a symbiotic relationship with the Earth. For example, if we purchase cheap plastic toys for our children, they are toxic to their little bodies, possibly causing cognitive problems, disease etc... those same throw away, cheap toys are floating in the ocean, sitting in a land fill poisoning our planet. 



We will talk more about TRASH next week, but for Earth Day, involve your children and educate them on the importance of NOT LITTERING our world. Beginning with not throwing chewed gum on the ground, to candy wrappers or fast food bags & containers it all harms our Earth.  Take them for a visit to a nearby land fill so they can see and smell first hand that the trash we create does not just “go away.” 



Family Earth loving activities:

  • Plant a tree in an effort to clean the air and increase life giving oxygen. Make it a yearly tradition in honor of someone's memory or birthday. Make it meaningful.    
  • Plan to reduce trash, reuse or repurpose most things.  Recycle electronics, batteries, trash. Stop using all styrene and styrofoam products. Cut your plastic use dramatically,
  • Do not throw away old nail polish, paints, solvents, old medications etc in main trash. Contact your city trash department and find out where, how to properly dispose of these and other toxic materials.
  • Turn off, unplug & live more energy efficiently. If your not using it, turn it off or unplug it. 
  • As a neighborhood, church group, friends or family, come together and clean up a heavily polluted or littered area. Begin your own crusade to clean up our world.  
  • Research with your children images of trash, the oceans, the Pacific trash vortex and other impact studies to broaden their perspective, gain knowledge and increase personal responsibility.


We are only as healthy as the home, environment we live in. 


As stewards, we are called to be care takers of the Planet Earth. Let's commit to the call to care for our home, everyday. Our future and our children’s children’s future depend on it... Let’s not let them down. 


Here's to a healthy world,

Holly Pellham Davis




Take a deep breath through your nose, slowly filling up your lungs. Then slowly push the air out through your mouth. Think about your nose, which acts as a filter and humidifier of the air you breathe into the lungs, processing that healing, life-giving oxygen. Then focus on expelling the by-product, carbon dioxide, out of your mouth, into the air around you.


Besides water, air is the only way to feed the human body oxygen. That makes it absolutely essential, fundamental, and critical for good health. Major air pollutants: carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and particle pollution are proven to increase the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) , even after short-term exposures. Other health risks linked to air pollution include: asthma, stroke, decline in cognitive function, dementia, autism, inflammation, high blood pressure, acceleration of atherosclerosis, and overall cardiovascular health and brain health. Researchers estimate about an 18% increase in the life span for people living in rural or metropolitan counties and attributed it to lower air pollution. Kind of makes you want to stay indoors, right? Sadly, the air inside your home, office, school (even our car!) is about seven times more polluted than the outdoor air.


Major contributors are the things you can’t see, including:


Air fragrances: Candles (heavily fragranced, petroleum-based are the worst culprits), incense, “air re-fresheners” (huge oxymoron), and air deodorizers and disinfectants (i.e. Lysol and Fabreeze). The air in your lungs does not need to smell good. It needs to be clear of chemicals, phthalates, and harmful additives.


Volatile Organic Compound’s (VOC’s): Gas-off from dry cleaning, paint, carpet, deadly formaldehyde, particle and pressed boards, furniture, PVC Shower Curtains, household mattresses and other furniture containing flame resistant chemicals PBDEs & PBBs


Pesticides, tobacco smoke, gas and other fuels, paint strippers, cosmetics (hairsprays and perfume), cleaning products containing ammonia, chlorine, benzene, floor wax, wood or other cleaners with petroleum (mineral) ingredients, wood burning stoves or fireplaces, and gas appliances.


So how do we “clear” the air?


1. Increase Flow. The most important thing is to increase the air flow in the building. That means, open the windows and doors and get good air movement going. This step is absolutely essential. You must move the air to clean it. Install small fans in hard to ventilate places such as the laundry room and bathroom. Air flow also decreases mold as it reduces moisture, which is important as mold can have a profound effect on health.

2. Implement A No Idle Policy. Never “idle” your car inside the garage. Do not even start the engine without making sure you can pull out quickly and safely. A swift exit is key. In carpool, turn off the engine. This policy should be in force at every school across the country. Not only does this deadly pollution make its way into the buildings, but into the lungs of our precious children. Same with buses- make sure the school has a no idle policy in place. If your child takes the bus, educate them on the dangers of vehicle emissions. Vehicle exhaust is deadly.

3. Identify And Eliminate Air Violators. Use the above list as a guide to “air violators” and discontinue their use immediately. Clean air violators out of your home and office. Be sure and properly dispose of all chemicals, cleaners, fuels, etc or the problem will only mutate to the local water source.

4. Test Your Air. Have your air tested if high allergies, migraines, or unexplained health problems plague anyone in your family. Make sure your house meets airPlus standards.

5. Filter, Filter, Filter. Use a HEPA filter on vacuum cleaners and HVAC air filters. Research the EPA’s Guide for Residential Air Filters and make sure you are taking necessary steps to ensure air health in your home.

6. Let In The Light. Get as much natural sunlight into your home as possible. The sun is a natural disinfectant and also kills most mold spores.

7. Dust. Use Microfiber cleaning towels to frequently remove dust, allergens and pet dander from furniture, floors, counter tops, and blinds.

8. Go Green. Channel your green thumb and grow lots of indoor plants to naturally filter the air. NASA research confirms the use of household plants improves air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and eliminating benzene and formaldehyde. Here is a full list of air-purifying plants.


Taking these small steps will ensure you and your family can breathe deeply and be closer to complete health. Wherever you can, through daily choices, writing elected officials, contacting school officials to initiate a no-idle policy, be an advocate for clean air, as it will give us a healthier earth for generations to come. Then enjoy a nice, long, deep breath of clean fresh… air!


My best,



More information on the air we breathe can be found from these helpful sites:

The American Lung association

Health House.Org

Air Now



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