Friday, January 23, 2009


Let me get this straight: being out in the sun is bad for my skin. Putting on moisturizer is good for it. Okay, great, I think I got it. It's been beaten into my brain since I was born, so it's now a no-brainer: to keep that stinkin' sun off my skin, I should apply this nourishing moisturizer with all kinds of good stuff in it. Alright, here I go... rubbing it in... rubbing it in... smells great... good for me... it's going to keep me looking young and chipper.

One problem, though. That moisturizer they're throwing at me contains parabens. Researchers have found traces of parabens in tissue taken from women with breast cancer. While there is no direct evidence (yet) that parabens cause cancer, scientists have called for the use of parabens to be researched. I have a problem with the fact that no research has been done on this chemical. Why do cosmetics companies need to put parabens in their stuff? Oh, I see. It's a great preservative. Extends the shelf-life. And, since no good research has been performed on it, one can deduce that it is harmless and therefore belongs in most of our cosmetic products. The cosmetics industry insists that parabens are safe. Well, if they insist, then it must be okay.

Since I trust that the cosmetics company's main goal is to keep me looking young and sweet, I guess I'll slather some more of this good stuff on my skin to keep the hot 'n nasty sun off of it. The propylene glycol will do a great job nourishing my skin - it'll keep it nice and moist, since my skin doesn't know how to do that naturally with its own oils. Wait. Propylene glycol? Isn't that anti-freeze? Well, since the cosmetics industry wants me to look younger, I guess I need anti-freeze in my moisturizer to keep my skin silky-smooth and to stave off wrinkles and cancer that can happen from the horrible despicable sun.

I think I'll ignore this quote from the Breast Cancer Fund website and keep slathering more of this good stuff on me: "Breast carcinogens have no place in cosmetics and personal care products. Yet despite growing concern from consumers, the U.S. government does not systematically assess the safety of personal care products, and major U.S. companies continue to market cosmetics with known and suspected carcinogens, mutagens and reproductive toxins."

Hmmph... something smells funny. I think it's the lotion on my face. Maybe next time I'll just use a hat.

Call me crazy, but I believe that these chemical-laden products are far more harmful to our bodies than the sun. And call me double-crazy, but I believe cosmetics companies' main goal is to make a profit.

I stopped using most commercial products on my body when I was pregnant, because I was concerned about my skin absorbing so many chemicals and sending them to the little one inside of me. I used straight soybean oil as a moisturizer on my belly to prevent stretch marks. That was it. After the birth, I felt no need to go back to the chemicals (that includes deoderant. Yes, deoderant. And yes, sometimes I smell European because of it). It's been three years now since I opened my eyes to this issue. I don't believe the quality of my skin has decreased. In fact, I think it may have increased. My natural oils are doing a darn good job protecting me from most of my normal sun exposure. If I know that I will be out in the sun for prolonged periods, I like to use a hat and a small amount of titanium dioxide-based or zinc oxide-based sunscreen. These two naturally-occurring minerals act as a physical barrier on the skin, rather than being absorbed into the skin. Other than during periods of prolonged exposure to the sun, I have found no other time that it has been necessary to use a commercial moisturizer on my body or face for the last three years.

Suggested websites to do your own research:

An excellent series from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (thanks to my hubby for finding this):
Choosing safe cosmetics:
Creating a healthy home:
Eating smart:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My first blog - the clothesline as inspiration

Today it's sunny and 85 degrees with low humidity and a light breeze.

You don't need a San Diego weather update? Actually, the reason I chose to write my first blog is because I wanted to share the moment of inspiration that hit me when I was hanging my clothes out to dry this morning.

As I stood there surrounded by fresh morning air and birds chirping, I wondered: Why would anyone choose to use an automatic clothes dryer on a day like this one?

To me, there is no option. Actually, I must be nuts because I plan my laundry days around the sun. Well... the "planning" goes more like this: I wake up in the morning and if the sun is out I know I should throw a load in the washer (which is solar-powered too). It's too easy. Sometimes I do it at night if I know the next day will be busy for me. I just hang my clothes out overnight and collect them the next day.

The rewards of line-drying are many:

  • First, it gets me outside even more.
  • It's great for my wallet (or purse, rather).
  • I get to listen to birds singing instead of a machine working.
  • The smell, the SMELL! Sleeping under a blanket that's been line-dried is an experience in-and-of itself. It has a wonderful, earthy smell that's hard to describe and impossible to replicate with dryer sheets.
  • No more mysteriously shrinking clothes and a lot less wear & tear.
  • And most importantly - it makes me feel good.

The only drawback that I have noticed with line-drying is that it takes some time to set the clothes out. Maybe an extra 3 minutes or so. The luxury of throwing the clothes into the machine is gone. But, really, I feel like I am surrounded by luxuries every day (like this handy computer, for instance). It's nice to go back to the basics and to do things a la grandma.

So my first blog ends like this: I felt like I had a moment of inspiration with the clothes and the birds and figured I should start typing these moments up so that my kids can make fun of me about it one day.

Hey - if you have any questions about setting up a clothesline, I am more than happy to help. I like the retractable ones, because they're out of sight when you're not using them. They are available at your standard big-box home improvement centers. I got mine online, but that's because they weren't available in the stores until about a year ago. I guess this is one of the items they decide to stock during a recession.