Saturday, April 21, 2018

Forest Bathing 101: What is it and the 6 Benefits for Your Body

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” -John Muir

Is spending time in nature a medical necessity?

Viewing nature as mandatory medicine is still largely a foreign concept. However, feeling good doesn’t seem to be enough of a reason to spend time outdoors anymore.

As humans with ever increasing busy lives, it seems we now need scientific evidence to support the necessity of going into nature. It needs to be seen as mandatory as brushing our teeth to encourage us to schedule it in.

With the level of time we are spending enraptured with technology and behind a screen increasing at exponential rates, the need for encouragement to get out into nature is becoming essential.

On average, we are spending more than half of each day on a screen. Yikes!

US adults’ average daily time spent with major media slightly exceeded 12 hours in 2017, according to eMarketer’s latest report, “US Time Spent with Media: eMarketer’s Updated Estimates and Forecast for 2014-2019”.

To me, these are terrifying statistics with deeply unknown (yet predictable) consequences.

Richard Louv, author of the 2008 bestseller Last Child in the Woods—the book that minted the term nature deficit disorder, argues that all of us, especially children, are spending more time indoors, which makes us feel alienated from nature and perhaps more vulnerable to negative moods or reduced attention span.

Does this sound familiar?

What if science finally found a way to explain why being in nature feels so good?

Picnics in the park, meandering through flower gardens or strolling down the beach all seem to do something that leaves us feeling good in a way screen time never does.

Being in the forest is no exception. As the leaves rustle in the breeze overhead and the sunshine glitters through the trees it always leaves me with a sense of calm I can’t explain.

The Japanese set out to unearth the science behind it—it is now scientifically proven to be a therapy so profound Japanese doctors view it as a cornerstone of preventative health care and are prescribing it.

This research has been in the making since the 1980’s and doctors in Japan are currently prescribing walks in the forest under the name “Forest Bathing.”

Forest Bathing, also called “Shinrin-Yoku”, translates as “taking in the forest atmosphere” and was coined by Mr. Tomohide Akiyama in 1982.

This is different than going on a hike or having a picnic in the park. You don’t need a bathing suit. It is not a workout that you can track on your Fitbit.

“Bathing”, when attached to this therapy, is not applied in the literal way the English language uses it. You should not expect to get wet or go for a dip in a body of water. Instead, it is a feeling of allowing yourself to be stripped down and the forest to envelope you the way water does when we bathe.

Being surrounded by nature is a form of meditation that leaves you calmer. It is universally acknowledged that there are positive medical benefits of meditation but for me, the act of true meditation is an elusive skill which forever feels like I’m stuck at the beginner level.

Forest Bathing, in contrast, is something anyone at any age and physical ability can master.

How do You Master Forest Bathing?

Deliberately engage with nature using all five senses. Practice. Repeat.


Look at the trees, watch the leaves sway or the way the sunshines sparkles off a droplet of water.


Get down on your knees and touch the dirt and grass and feel the texture of the bark on the tree.


Breathe in the air with all of the space your lungs allow and try to name the aromas filtering through like you might with a fine wine.


Listen to the wind and the birds; hear the songs of the forest come alive the closer attention you give it.


Open your mouth and taste the air as you breathe in, reveling in its flavor.

Stand still and engage all the magic your senses possess.
Slowly rotate and take in the newness at each turn.

This is forest bathing.

Drenching yourself in the forest and all it offers becoming once again fully connected and in tune with nature.

“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” ― Andy Goldsworthy

Still not convinced?

Japanese studies have scientifically found the following proof that it’s a health necessity.

6 Benefits of Forest Bathing

1—Increased Mental Clarity

While in nature the mind experiences “soft fascination” which gives the brain an ability to rest, restoring the ability to focus with directed attention later.

2—Stress Reduction

Being in nature lowers cortisol levels, which directly effects blood pressure effectively decreasing anxiety and stress within the body.

3—Natural Pain Killer

A study of hospital patients determined a room with a window to outside nature or the mere presence of flowering and foliage plants inside a hospital room can lower the need for painkillers and positively effects recovery time.

4—Increased Immunity

Natural Killer cell activity measurably increases when in nature.  These cells boost your bodies ability to fight infection, boost intracellular anti-cancer proteins in lymphocytes, and enhance overall immune function.

5—Kick Start Your Creativity

Time in nature enhances our mental performance and creativity. One study of a group of Outward Bound participants found they performed 50 percent better on creative problem-solving tasks after wilderness backpacking.

6—Relaxed State of Being

Relaxation is induced by phytoncides, particles that have been found in uniquely high concentrations in forest air. These substances significantly decreased the percentage of T cells and the concentrations of adrenaline and noradrenaline in urine which decreases stress hormone levels. In addition, the act of Shinrin-Yoku alters cerebral blood flow in a manner that indicated a state of relaxation.

Clear proof of the mental and physiological effects that this therapy offers is now documented.

To be in optimum health, it turns out, yes, it really is mandatory to make time and space to have our dates with nature.

Feel like you don’t have the time? This quote is a favorite and always reminds us to make time for the things we don’t feel we have the time for.

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”  – Old Zen Saying

I will look for you sitting among the trees with your senses wide open.

Have you ever tried Forest Bathing? Let us know what you found in the comments below.


This article comes from our friend Bokhara Lashi
Holistic Esthetician + Wellness Specialist
Founder of San Francisco Organic Spa, Embody Zen
Artist, Moss Art Studio

Brief introduction to the science of Forest Therapy.
All you need to know about nature deficit disorder.
This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, the medicine of simply being in the forest.
Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.
US Adults Now Spend 12 Hours 7 Minutes a Day Consuming Media.
Nature Therapy and Preventive Medicine.
The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being.
Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function.
Your Brain on Nature: Forest Bathing and Reduced Stress
Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress.
The Restorative Environment: Nature and Human Experience
View through a window may influence recovery from surgery.

The following post Forest Bathing 101: What is it and the 6 Benefits for Your Body was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tamanu Oil for Skin

Tamanu oil is an ancient remedy that comes from the Tamanu tree, which grows in tropical Southeast Asia. The oil itself comes from the kernels found inside the nut that's inside the fruit. The kernels are dried for two months until they become sticky with a dark, thick, rich oil. The oil is then cold-pressed to make a greenish yellow oil similar to olive oil.

This precious oil has a long and impressive history as a miracle product for the skin.

A Little Bit About the Ingredient Itself

Also called the kamani tree, the ati tree, and foraha, tamanu is scientifically termed Calophyllum inophyllum, and is considered a large evergreen. It usually grows to about 26 to 66 feet in height, and is found in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, South India, Sri Lanka, and the Melanesian and Polynesian islands. Leaves are elliptical and shiny, and the bark is cracked and black. Large, white flowers bloom twice a year, and yield clusters of yellow-skinned spherical fruit that are reported to taste similar to apples.

Inside the fruit is a large nut, which contains an odorless pale kernel. It is this kernel that yields the oil once dried. The oil is precious, as it takes about 100 kilograms of fruit—the amount that one tree produces annually—to create just 5 kilograms (about 21 cups) of cold pressed oil.

Skin Benefits of Tamanu

Tamanu is great for sensitive skin, but it also makes it a great addition to anti-aging formulas, as it helps promote the healthy, younger-looking skin. Combined with its antioxidant properties, it works not only tighten and firm your look, but to protect from environmental stressors.

Finally, like many natural oils, tamanu is a good source of fatty acids, including oleic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, and stearic, which all help to plump your look and smooth the appearance of skin.

Try It!

We've added tamanu to our new Probiotic Serum with Tremella, a couple of our anti-aging formulas as well as our standard facial oils.

Anti-Aging Serum
Anti-Aging Eye Cream
Herbal Facial Oil for Normal and Combination Skin
Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin

Have you tried tamanu oil for your skin? Share your experience below!


The following post Tamanu Oil for Skin was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Annmarie Skin Care Team is Hiring a Full-Time Email Operations Coordinator

We're looking for someone who has experience in email marketing and analysis, and who has an interest in natural skin care, organics, the healthcare industry, herbs & remedies, etc. (Guy or gal, both are equally welcome!)

If you apply, you must be a hard worker, have high energy, be caring, supportive and willing to be an ambassador for our company. We are looking for someone who has an interest in the issues around the topics of skin care — toxic ingredients, natural herbs, lack of regulations, why choose natural and organic, etc…

Additionally, we're looking for someone who is proactive in this position, and is a self motivator to see things through. We are excited to bring someone on board who can be trained in the systems in place, but also has enthusiasm and creativity.

Job Requirements

•   Grow and manage our email department.
◦         Proficient in executing daily email blasts as well as automated email flows
◦         Implement Email QA process for every email
•   Create and manage the promotional calendar.
◦         Making decisions based on current in house events and previous year’s promotions.
•   Optimize and create new email template designs.
•   Regular reporting using spreadsheets and other tools.
•   Work with the marketing, creative, and affiliate team to secure assets for each email.
•   Support campaign strategy and analysis
•   Monitor email deliverability and best practices
•   Make sure all email communications are on brand stylistically
•   Ability to look at the customer experience via email and look for opportunities for testing and optimization.
•   Team player who is adept at working with cross functional teams

Other Requirements

•   Experience with an ESP and regular emailing. (Knowledge of Klaviyo is a plus.)
•   Exceptionally detail oriented.
•   Experience with robust marketing calendars is a plus
•   An interest and/or passion for the health/natural beauty industry.
•   A subject matter expert in email marketing (read blogs frequently on best practices, attend webinars + courses, etc).

How to Apply

1—Please take a free typing test at one of these places:
(Must type faster than 35 words per minute)

2—If you pass, please make sure you share your WPM with your resume and the additional item in #3.

3—Then, record a video of yourself telling us why you think you're a good fit for this job. Please also include your past experience or interest in skin care or the health industry.

4—Upload the video to a video website like and copy the direct link.

5—Send an email to with the following:
◦        Your resume
◦        4-5 samples of your previous work (specific to health and beauty preferred)
◦        WPM score—a screenshot of your result is fine
◦        The link to your video

Thanks! We look forward to meeting you!


The following post The Annmarie Skin Care Team is Hiring a Full-Time Email Operations Coordinator was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Relax and Float: Sensory Deprivation Tanks and Flotation Therapy

Contributed by our friend Shirell Bishop

It’s 4pm in San Francisco. The repetitive sound of tap shoes hitting a thick piece of plywood is blended with the blaring chimes of the cable car’s bell.

You’re standing on the curb of Powell and Market texting a friend while waiting for the “walk” signal to appear across the street. The stranger to your right moves uncomfortably close to your purse. When you shift slightly to your left to lean away from him, you’re narrowly clipped by a speeding Muni bus passing by.

The step you take backward to avoid the bus bumps you into the stranger standing behind you. The bump knocks your phone out of your hand. It falls to the ground, cracking and blacking out its screen. A number of expletives come to mind as you bend down to retrieve your phone, and passerby moves past you to cross the street.

At this moment, you’re reminded of the money you just spent on bills and how complicated life will be now that you are temporarily “disconnected” without your phone. In the span of approximately 3 minutes, you’ve become extremely stressed.

High stress lifestyles

For many of us, the above situation can be found on the laundry list of challenges we endure on a daily basis. Stress occurs in various areas of our lives, having adverse effects on every area of our well being.

Sadly, many of us are unable to take time away from work to manage our stress. For those who have employers that don’t offer benefits, paid vacation and sick leave are luxuries that are out of reach. But, it can be comforting to know that options exist for those who need to work long hours, and have limited time to relax.

A different approach to relaxation

Yoga, meditation, running, or massages are the usual go-to wellness rituals. These are all well known, traditional methods to assist with stress reduction and aid with relaxation.

One wellness practice that is reasserting itself as a cultural mainstay is floatation therapy. Floatation therapy has been around well before many of us were born. But it has steadily become a more reliable source of wellness benefits in recent years. In as little as 30 minutes, you can feel a sense of relief provided by floatation therapy.

Flotation Therapy

If you are unfamiliar with flotation therapy, here is a quick history – A former physician, neuroscientist, psychoanalyst, psychonaut, philosopher, writer and inventor, John C. Lilly, is the inventor of the sensory deprivation tank. While working at the National Institute of Mental Health in 1954, he created the first sensory deprivation tank (aka isolation tank).

The tank was filled with salt water, allowing its occupant to float for an extended period of time. With the door closed, the tank was completely soundproof and dark, creating the sensory isolation experience. Through his invention of the tank and his research of the brain and consciousness, floatation therapy was born.

A Deeper Level of Relaxation

Floatation therapy has been reported to significantly decrease stress, anxiety, body pain, and depression. An improvement in sleep quality and optimism can also improve, in addition to mindfulness in one's daily life.

These improvements are due to the somewhat altered state of consciousness experienced while in a flotation tank. When your brain doesn’t need to process external stimuli, your mind can achieve a deeper level of relaxation. It’s also mentioned the amount of Epsom salt in the water (typically a minimum of 800 pounds depending on the tank) that allows you float, assists with soothing minor pain and injuries.

If the thought of being in an isolation tank for an extended period of time feels a bit disconcerting, you aren’t alone. This was my initial feeling before my first visit to a floatation spa. I have my bouts of anxiety, and I’m a self-diagnosed claustrophobic. The idea of being completely closed off from the rest of the world was both daunting and exciting. I was definitely on the fence about participating.

But, I did a little research prior to my visit and decided to go with friends. During my research, I found a few helpful tips that prepared me for the spa.

Before Your First Visit

If you choose to remove your body hair, don’t do it immediately before your visit. Since I was planning to go to the spa, I made sure all of my “maintenance” was done the night before. It’s suggested that any hair removal is done at least 12 to 24 hours before your visit, due to irritation.

Since I’m on the subject of hair, I wore mine in a really long braided style at the time of my spa visit. My concern was whether the weight of my hair would cause my head to sink while floating. After viewing a few websites, I found the only hair issues are those associated with freshly dyed hair. Sometimes hair dye can bleed and damage the pods.

Another nugget of wisdom I found, was to be mindful of food and drink intake. I made sure not to eat, or drink too much before my float. I rarely drink coffee. But it was also listed as one of the pre-spa “no-nos”. It makes total sense and I would hate for digestion to interrupt my float.

The Day-Of

My “big” day had arrived. The waiting room of the spa was as expected – a front counter with a friendly staff member to greet me, a musical selection to create ambiance, and an endless supply of chilled, cucumber-infused water. Once in my room, I was able to take it all in once the spa attendant had left. The shower and sink were unassuming and on one side of the room. The art on the walls was initially unnoticed because of the shape and size of the pod. It occupied half of the room.

The moment I saw the pod I was transported back to my childhood. It looked as though creatives from Star Trek and Mork & Mindy collaborated on its design. The hatch was open. And inside its egg-shaped body, a rhythmic light show was taking place with the colors blue, purple, and green. The slow rotation of color did assist with calming my jitters. The temperature of the water was perfect.

Once inside, it took a few minutes before I felt comfortable enough to close the door and lay in complete darkness. I had to work hard to not splash myself in the face with water. Although they provided me with a towel for my face, my first instinct is usually to wipe with my hand.  While floating, I began to relax. But It felt different. A peaceful rush came over my body, and I no longer had any compelling thoughts or anxiety. At some point during my 60-minute session, I fell asleep.


When my session ended, I exited the pod. I felt a “lightness” that wasn’t there before I arrived at the spa. The artwork on the walls stood out more, and I felt soothed from head-to-toe. My first session went so well, others followed.

Most float spas provide you with the necessary toiletries and bath accessories. It’s not always necessary to bring your own items. A quick phone call to your spa or a search of the spa’s website should provide you with this information.

I chose to bring my own. Because I have sensitive skin, I’m a fan of Annmarie’s products. Showering with the Rosemary Peppermint Body Wash, followed by the Coconut Body Oil to moisturize (it doesn’t leave my skin oily), left me feeling even more refreshed after my float visit. The scents of the products are so soothing.

Just try it!

The best piece of advice I can give to a person experiencing float therapy for the first time  – try it. When you finally step into your pod (or tank), allow yourself time to adjust to the sensation of floating before completely closing the pod’s door. I found it difficult becoming familiar with the feeling of floating, while in complete darkness.

Lastly and most importantly, close your eyes and just relax.

Have you tried flotation therapy? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author: Shirell is on a journey to a healthier lifestyle, and has been incorporating wellness practices into her everyday life. Traveling and meditation are her favorite forms of self-care. Her goal is to inspire others to explore the world as often as they can, you can read more about her adventures at


The following post Relax and Float: Sensory Deprivation Tanks and Flotation Therapy was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How-To: Sign Up for Our SMS Notifications

So, you’re on our email list, maybe you’re an insider, but have you signed up for our SMS notifications? SMS notifications are texts, straight to your phone. It’s our simple, no frills way of keeping you in the loop and giving you exclusive access to deals before they drop.

Why Sign Up for SMS Notifications?

We’ll only text you when it’s something really good. Promise. You’ll receive announcements about new products and sitewide sales the day before. We want to make sure our most dedicated customers stay up to date and have access to our best deals.

How to Sign Up

It’s simple, with these instructions!

1—Text ANNMARIE to +1 (510) 210 9202

2—Once you do so, you should receive a message back confirming you’ve opted in

3—You’re all set to receive seamless access to exclusive, for-your-eyes-only information.

Are you signed up for our SMS notifications? We'd love some feedback – let us know how you like them below!

The following post How-To: Sign Up for Our SMS Notifications was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Check Your Sunscreen Label For These 7 Ingredients

With the weather warming up, we’re all eager to spend more time outdoors. Though it’s best to use sunscreen year round (hopefully you’ve been doing that!), these sunny months make it all the more necessary to protect yourself while you enjoy the rays.

Sunscreen. It’s necessary to reduce our risk of skin cancer, and also to protect the skin from photodamage, which can increase the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, sagging and bagging, and all the other icky signs of aging.

7 Potentially Damaging Chemicals in Sunscreen

A completely safe, natural ingredient has been found to act as a physical barrier between your skin and the sun: zinc oxide. Knowing that such an ingredient exists, you wonder why most sunscreens on the shelves continue to contain chemical ingredients that range from questionably unsafe to verifiably harmful.

If you’re shopping for sunscreen, watch out for these ingredients:

1—Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3)

Oxybenzone (also called “benzophenone-3” or “BP-3”) is an organic compound used as an ingredient in sunscreens because it absorbs UVB and UVA rays. You’ll find this ingredient in many sunscreens today, including regular lotion sunscreens and makeup foundations with an SPF. It easily dissolves into lotions and creams, so you have a nice product that disappears on your face and then protects from the sun.

Many people are concerned with this ingredient, though, for three reasons:

Widespread Exposure: A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence of widespread exposure to oxybenzone. After analyzing urine samples from over 2,500 people, researchers found BP-3 in over 96 percent of them, concluding that exposure was prevalent in the general population during 2003-2004. Females were more likely than males to have concentrations above the 95th percentile, likely as a result of personal care product use, the researchers said.

Photosensitizer: Some laboratory studies have shown that oxybenzone penetrates the skin, then increases the production of DNA-damaging free radicals when exposed to light, which suggests it may have the potential to encourage changes in the skin that could lead to cancer. More studies need to be done, but early studies have raised concerns.

Hormone Disruptor: Animal studies have indicated that oxybenzone may disrupt the hormone system, causing weak estrogenic activity.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives this ingredient a hazard score of “8” (out of 10), and notes that it has relatively high rates of skin allergy.

2—Octinoxate (Octy-Methoxycinnamate)

Octinoxate is reportedly the most widely used UVB-blocking agent in the skin care industry because it is less irritating than other sunscreen ingredients. Also called octyl methoxycinnamate, it’s an organic compound formed from methoxycinnamic acid and 2-ethylhexanol.

A clear liquid, it’s insoluble in water and is used in sunscreens and other cosmetics to protect from skin damage. It absorbs ultraviolet radiation in the UVB range, and is permitted by the FDA in skin care formulations at 7.5 percent.

Three concerns with this ingredient:

Instability: When it’s exposed to sunlight, it is changed to a less UV-absorbent form, which would seem to compromise its effectiveness. According to a 2005 study, researchers exposed various chemical sunscreen ingredients, including octinoxate, to UV rays. The results showed that the exposure reduced octinoxate’s ability to protect from UV rays. In a 2008 scientific article, the authors write, “Upon exposure to sunlight, octinoxate degrades into a photoproduct with less UV-absorbing ability.”

Increased free radicals: In the aforementioned study, exposure to UV rays produced free radicals in the films that persisted even after exposure had ended. That means that this ingredient could be increasing the damage to skin from UV rays, and that the damage could continue even after skin is out of the sun. Some manufacturers combine sunscreen ingredients with other antioxidants in an effort to quench this free-radical damage, but so far we don’t have enough studies to know if that’s helping. 

A 2005 study, for example, looked at exactly what several chemical sunscreens did in the skin to reduce sunburn. The authors concluded: “These findings suggest that sunscreens may prevent redness partly by UV absorption and partly by inhibition of the skin’s inflammatory response. As such, sunscreens might promote instead of protect against melanoma.”

Disrupt hormones: A 2004 animal study found the chemical to have estrogenic activity. Whether or not these same effects would be seen in humans is not yet clear.

The EWG gives this one a hazard rating of “6,” and notes that it’s been found in mothers’ milk, with widespread human exposure.


PABA is a natural chemical found in the vitamin folic acid and also in several foods, including grains, eggs, milk, and meat. Since it is a natural ingredient with a broad range of uses, one would think PABA would be safe for use as a sunscreen. Unfortunately, some studies have raised concerns that it may not be safe to use topically.

PABA was introduced to sunscreens in the 1970s because of its natural ability to absorb UV rays—the ones that cause sunburn. Most sunscreens today, however, don’t use PABA. Like oxybenzone, it was found to increase sensitivity to allergic reactions.

Most sunscreens today, however, don’t use PABA. Like oxybenzone, it was found to increase sensitivity to allergic reactions.

More concerning, however, were studies that showed PABA might damage DNA. In the later 1990s, University of Oxford researcher Dr. John Knowland reported on studies that showed when the chemical sunscreen was exposed to sunlight, it broke down, releasing free radicals that could damage DNA. Results such as these raised the concern that PABA could actually encourage the formation of cancerous cells in the skin.


This is an organic compound made from salicylic acid and “3,3,5-trimethylcyclohexanol,” and is said to absorb ultraviolet rays to protect the skin from sun damage, particularly short-wave UVB rays, which are associated with the DNA damage that can increase risk of skin cancer.

Again, the concern with this one is that it has a mild hormone-disrupting activity. Studies have found that human breast cancer cells, when exposed to homosalate, grew and multiplied 3.5 times more than normal. The estrogenic activity of the chemical has also been observed in human placental tissues, raising concerns about pregnant women who may be exposed to the chemical.

Animal studies have also shown that homosalate may enhance the amount of pesticides we absorb through the skin. Mice that wore a sunscreen containing homosalate along with the common insect repellant DEET, for example, were found to absorb more of the herbicide than mice who didn’t wear the sunscreen.

The EWG gives this one a hazard rating of “4,” and notes that it disrupts estrogen, androgen, and progesterone.


Octocrylene is made by combining diphenylcyanoacrylate with 2-ethylhexanol, creating a clear and colorless oily liquid. Like homosalate, it absorbs UVB and short-wave UVA rays, protecting the skin while also adding a moisturizing property to the formula. It combines well with avobenzone, and is often seen in sunscreen products paired up with this ingredient. It’s also easily combined with other oils, and formulators use it to help keep ingredients more thoroughly mixed in their products.

One of the concerns with this one is that like octinoxate, it acts as a photosensitizer, actually increasing the production of free radicals when skin is exposed to the sun. Free radicals damage skin, increasing the risk of premature aging and skin cancer.

According to a 2006 study, for example, researchers found that octocrylene, octylmethoxycinnamate, and oxybenzone, when left on the skin for about 20 minutes, resulted in an increased generation of free radicals. After 60 minutes, the sunscreens raised that level higher than that produced by the skin alone when exposed to UV radiation. In other words, after the sunscreen is on the skin for an hour, it can cause more damage than if you were wearing no sunscreen at all.

The EWG gives this one a hazard rating of “3,” and notes that it has rather high rates of causing skin allergies. A 2014 study, for example, recommended that this ingredient not be used in sunscreens for children, because of the risk of causing contact dermatitis. It’s also been found to have widespread exposure in the U.S. population.


This one is similar to homosalate, as it’s made by combining an ester of salicylic acid with 2-ethylhexanol. It may be called “octyl salicylate” or “2-ethylhexyl salicylate.” Like other chemical sunscreens, it absorbs UV light, protecting the skin, and because it’s made with a fatty alcohol, it also has an emollient property, which manufacturers like because it makes the formula more water resistant.

Though it absorbs UVB rays within a certain range, octisalate is thought to be a weak sunscreen and doesn’t protect at all from UVA rays. Because of that, it’s rarely used alone. Instead, it’s typically combined with other chemical sunscreens, like avobenzone, on which it’s said to have a stabilizing effect. The chemical degrades fairly quickly, though, when exposed to sunlight, so is unlikely to add much protection, particularly after you’ve had the product on for awhile.

Octisalate is also called a “penetration enhancer,” meaning that it can increase the amount of other ingredients passing into the skin. That means if there are other potentially hazardous ingredients in the formula (such as preservatives or fragrances), it can usher these ingredients much more deeply into the skin and potentially into the body.

The EWG gives this one a hazard rating of “3,” and notes that exposure to it is widespread.


Considered the safest of all of these options, avobenzone is still a chemical sunscreen, and lacks the stability of many of the other ingredients, meaning that it can break down into unknown chemicals once it’s applied to skin.

A synthetic dibenzoylmethane derivative, avobenzone absorbs UV rays over a wide wavelength, and is considered an effective broad-spectrum sunscreen. Since it’s one of the few that can protect against both UVA and UVB rays, it’s found in a great many sunscreen products, as well as in other products meant to protect from UV rays, like makeup and lip care products.

The EWG gives this one a low hazard rating of only 2. It has no evidence of causing hormone disruption, and doesn’t penetrate the skin very deeply. The problem is that it is not very stable, and once exposed to UV rays, it breaks down and degrades, compromising its ability to protect the skin. One study found that after 2 hours of sunlight exposure, avobenzone lost 85 percent of its ability to absorb UVA rays.

Avobenzone was also found to react with octinoxate, leading to the destruction of both chemicals and loss of skin protection. Manufacturers address the issue by combining the chemical with octocrylene and oxybenzone, which help enhance the stability of avobenzone. Studies have shown various rates of degradation even after these chemicals are added, however.

Another concern: studies have found that the chemical “presented a pronounced phototoxicity” when applied to skin and exposed to UV rays, meaning that it increased skin irritation and damage. Later studies suggested that the levels of the chemical would have to be higher than what is usually found in sunscreen products to cause this type of damage, because avobenzone typically doesn’t absorb far into skin, but again, this depends on the formulation, and whether its paired with other penetration-enhancers.

A 2009 study also found that avobenzone could damage key building blocks in the skin like thymidine, tryptophan, and tyrosine. Other research has suggested it can produce free radicals and cause DNA and protein damage. Manufacturers blend it with free radical scavengers to try to counteract this action.

Finally, avobenzone is considered one of the most common UV filters to cause allergic reactions and contact dermatitis.

Isn’t It Best to Avoid Harmful Chemicals in Sunscreen?

There is more research that needs to be done to determine exactly what the dangers are when it comes to chemicals in sunscreen, but we just don’t feel comfortable using them with what we know so far.

Do you use natural sun protection? Let us know in the comments!



EWG – The Trouble With Sunscreen Chemicals

Environmental Health Perspectives – Concentrations of the Sunscreen Agent Benzophenone-3 in Residents of the United States

Free Radical Biology and Medicine – Sunscreen Enhancement of UV-Induced Reactive Oxygen Species in the Skin

Skin Cancer Foundation – Guide to Sunscreens

Photochemistry and Photobiology – Unexpected Photolysis of the Sunscreen Octinoxate in the Presence of the Sunscreen Avobenzone

Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology – Sunscreens – What's Important to Know

Melanoma Research – Sunscreen Ingredients Inhibit Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase

Toxicology – Endocrine Activity and Developmental Toxicity of Cosmetic UV Filters — An Update


Photochemistry and Photobiology – Photoaddition of p-Aminobenzoic Acid to Thymine and Thymidine

Safe Cosmetics – Homosalate

Free Radical Biology and Medicine – Sunscreen Enhancement of UV-Induced Reactive Oxygen Species in the Skin

Actas Dermo-Sifiliogr√°ficas – Sun Protection in Children: Realities and Challenges

Wisderm – Avobenzone

Toxicology in Vitro – Skin Phototoxicity of Cosmetic Formulations Containing Photounstable and Photostable UV-Filters and Vitamin A Palmitate

Photochemistry and Photobiology – A Blocked Diketo Form of Avobenzone: Photostability, Photosensitizing Properties and Triplet Quenching by a Triazine-Derived UVB-Filter

The following post Check Your Sunscreen Label For These 7 Ingredients was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.

Monday, April 16, 2018

It’s Your Time: Turning the Midlife Crisis into your Midlife Awakening

Contributed by our friend Sheree Clark, host of It’s YOUR Time

Have you ever looked at old photos of yourself and wonder where your life—where you—went?

As women we seem to spend most of our lives in a caregiving role. We take care of spouses, kids, employers, employees, customers, friends, our businesses…and often, even our parents.

It’s a huge juggling act to balance all the competing priorities. To constantly feel as though we’re leaving one thing early to get to another thing late. To always be running on empty.

What would it feel like to put that energy toward yourself? To focus on taking care of you?

Can midlife actually mean a new life?

Midlife is a time of unique challenges. (Believe me, I’ve been there!) If you feel like you’re hopelessly stuck in a midlife rut … searching for a fresh start … I want you to hear me: This is not all there is. In fact, I believe that the midlife “crisis” is actually a midlife awakening.

It can be different.

It does get better.

It is YOUR time to shine.

Let’s just imagine it is actually possible…

So, how can you be the best possible version of yourself in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond? What would it feel like to be strong and healthy and not constantly obsessed about whether or not you should eat carbs or if your drinking has gotten out of hand?  What would it feel like to actually have work—or a relationship—that you were passionate about? Or if you could find the time to connect to your own creativity, maybe to write or paint or dance?

Take the First Step: Get Unstuck

Most of us have some area in life where we feel a little “stuck.” Maybe you:

— Need help finding what you really want to do…and support so you have the courage to actually do it

— Want better health, sounder sleep, more vitality…the energy to sail through your day

— Simply feel like you’ve taken care of everyone else for too damn long and now it’s YOUR turn

Have you ever heard the expression: “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got?” It’s true. And next week, next month, two years from now it’ll still be true. The truth is, unless you take some focused action, you’ll simply be older.

Like nearly everything else—making a shift in your life starts with a vision. It begins with you knowing, and then believing in, and then manifesting what you want for your next chapter in life.

So how do you do that?

You slow down, if just for a moment.

You get focused (yes, it’s possible).

You reconnect to the childlike you. The little girl who hasn’t yet been told that she’s not smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough to ask for—and get—what she wants for herself. What she dreams of having in her life.

Because somewhere in there, buried under all the shoulds and oughtas and “but I promiseds,” is a clear-eyed sense of what fits for you. Of what you are—or could be—good at. Of what you were once good at. Of the things that you did and loved before you got married, or pregnant or were promoted, or were diagnosed, or before your parents needed your help.

How do I know so much?

Because I have been there myself. I’ve had my own midlife awakening.

Why I cried at church

Like many people, I’ve had changes I wanted to make in my life for years before I summoned up the courage to take a leap. One defining moment for me came on a Sunday at church when I actually cried—not because the sermon was so moving—but because I knew that in less than 24 hours I had to “go back to work.”

Now, lots of people have the Sunday Night Blues when they think about going to a job they’ve grown to dislike.

The trouble was, I owned the company.

You see, for 25 years I had co-owned an advertising agency. Initially, my business partner was also my life partner (when we ended our personal relationship we decided to retain the professional aspect). In our time together, we built a successful business from nothing, received over 1,000 awards and employed scores of talented people. We survived two relocations, a major flood, 9/11 and even an IRS audit.

Our decision to close was not made easily or lightly. But the time had come, and we each wanted to do other things with our lives. Especially me. I had found that my real passion was in the healthy lifestyle arena—and the fast-paced, cutthroat advertising business was about as far from that as you could get. For what felt like an eternity, I felt like a total fraud. So after that Sunday at church…

I told my partner I wanted out—and there was no turning back.

And now? My work and home lives feel “integrated.” I don’t dread Mondays. I have more energy at age 60 than I did when I was 40 and self-medicating to get through each stressful week. I am out of my cycle of feel bad, eat bad, feel worse…it’s a though I’ve had an honest-to-goodness midlife awakening. And I can honestly say I have never been happier.

So, what about you?

Before you were a spouse, parent, colleague, boss, caretaker…you had a grand vision for your life. And it’s a pretty safe bet that over the years you’ve made compromises that may have long ago clouded that dewy-eyed ideal. What if you made a trip to revisit your earlier dreams and see if there are any worth resurrecting? If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.

And I can help you with the first step.

I want to invite you to attend my free interview series It’s Your Time: Turning the Midlife Crisis into Your Midlife Awakening. I’ve hand-picked authors and experts I admire and I asked them tough and sometimes personal questions. (This event is like having your own, personal appointment with 30 midlife specialists—professionals you’d have to pay to see in their private practice—at absolutely no cost.)

Have you had a midlife awakening? Let us know your experience below!

The following post It’s Your Time: Turning the Midlife Crisis into your Midlife Awakening was first published on Annmarie Skin Care.