Archive for July, 2010


Every summer there’s a bevy of news articles about sunscreens, and how some of them may even be harming you and your kids.  Most articles link to the Environmental Working Group’s Annual Sunscreen Guide – which reviews and rates hundreds of sunscreens in mind-numbing detail.  Too much detail, actually.   When researching sunscreens last year, I took one look at this list, got really frustrated and threw my hands up in the air.

I did my own research, and here’s my cheat-sheet of what to look for:

  • *  Ingredients to avoid:  oxybenzone and Vitamin A.  Oxybenzone is a hormone-disrupting chemical that penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream.  Vitamin A has been shown in some studies to accelerate skin tumors and lesions (the very cancers sunscreens are supposed to protect against – how ironic).
  • * You should have 1 of these ingredients:  zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (the active ingredients in many “natural sunscreens”).
  • * Choose one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays
  • * Use at least SPF 30

HOWEVER, there is another important factor to consider:  whether the suscreen protects against the 2 types of UVA rays: short and long.  Most sunscreens protect against short UVA rays, but not long UVA rays.  Long UVA rays are the ones that cause photo-aging and the more aggressive types of skin cancers, such as melanoma.  Interestingly, the FDA for several yearshas been considering a 4-star UVA-ranking system that would make its way onto sunscreen labels, but sadly, there seems to be no movement on this issue.

So what do we use in our house?  A little-know one called SunSmart by Applied Therapeutics.  It contains a patented Z-Cote (basically, a transparent zinc-oxide).  It’s an inorganic/non-chemical sunblock – meaning it sits on top of the skin and doesn’t get absorbed.  It goes on smoothly, withough any oily or white-filmy residue (a MUST for brown skin) – we actually use it instead of lotion.  And it contains yummy stuff like rose extract and jasmine and patchouli oils.

Most importantly, it protects against those long UVA-rays.


Hilarious videos from the Indian version of Sesame Street.  The first features Cookie Monster and Zoe – showing the concepts of “inside” and “outside.”  Cookie Monster’s voice is dead-on (though they really should rename him “Biscuit Monster”).

The second video stars Grover, with cameos at the end by Ernie (pronounced  “Aarnie” when paying homage to the Indian accent ), Bert & Praire Dawn, teaching the difference between “softly” and “loudly.”  Grover even breaks out in song – rasping Machli Jal Ki Rani Hai to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Play them for your kids, please…


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