Sunscreen That Won't Destroy the Coral Reefs

Shannon Smyth
Your sunscreen is killing the coral reefs around the world. That's not an exaggerated statement. But wait, if I can't wear sunscreen in order to protect the coral reefs, how am I supposed to protect myself from sun damage and skin cancer? Turns out it is two specific ingredients in your sunscreen that are doing the damage, and there are alternatives! Scientists have identified the culprits to be oxybenzone and octinoxate, both really great at doing their job to protect you from UV rays, not so much when it comes to marine life and coral reefs. These two ingredients act parasitic in nature by robbing the reefs of nutrients. As the reefs die, so does the ecosystem it had sustained. Considering that most of this earth is made up of ocean and it is a vital resource, it's pretty important to act now that we are aware of one contributing factor. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are not only in sunscreen, but are often the sunscreen in your favorite moisturizer. But for the sake of this article, we'll focus on providing an alternative to the sunscreens that have become a Summer staple in your beach bag. To do your part, look for sunscreens and moisturizers with titanium oxide or zinc oxide and that are biodegradable. Sunscreens that are coral reef safe: Coral Safe All Natural Biodegradable Sunscreen, SPF 30 Beauty by Earth Mineral Biodegradeable Sunscreen SPF 25 Stream2Sea Biodegradeable Mineral Sunblock SPF 30 Reef Safe Biodegradable Sunscreen Lotion SPF 45+ These are just a few coral reef safe sunscreens, but there are plenty at varying price points on Amazon. Many do appear to be a bit more expensive than the kind you'd find at the drugstore, but if it means helping to save our oceans, it's worth it to do your part. Do you have a favorite reef safe sunscreen not mentioned? Please feel free to tell us in the comments! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Or check out our natural bath and body line!

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Block Island Organics Review

Shannon Smyth
Block Island Organics Skincare review via @agirlsgottaspa Block Island - a gorgeous island located in Rhode Island. Yes, many people get confused - "isn't Rhode Island an island?" they ask me. I go on to list many islands found in Rhode Island - Patience, Goat, Aquidneck, Hog, Hope, Prudence Island... and so many more. My grandparents owned a home on Aquidneck Island, right on Naragansett Bay, that as a child I had hoped to one day inherit. Unfortunately they sold it years ago (I still hope one day I can buy it back.) I spent countless Summer vacations on Prudence Island, which I hope to one day bring my children to. And Block Island, the place where a number of US Presidents have visited, as well as Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh, is another prestine and spectacular piece of beauty in RI. Nostalgia aside, I became obsessed with an organic skin care line named after Block Island that I want to share with you. Block Island Organics is a safe, effective, and non-toxic suncare and skin care product line created by brother and sister, Lauren and Will von Bernuth, and Will's wife, Kelly. I've had the opportunity to test out their Purifying Facial Cleanser, Revitalizing Night Cream and Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 for a few months now. Block Island Organics Purifying Facial Cleanser review via @agirlsgottaspa Block Island Organics Purifying Facial Cleanser: A cruelty free and vegan formula of goodness. I use this cleanser in combination with my Michael Todd Soniclear Classic. It's a clear cleanser that glides on your skin and doesn't really have a fragrance to it. It doesn't lather, as it is sulfate free and it rinses clean. Block Island Organics Revitalizing Night Cream review @agirlsgottaspa Block Island Organics Revitalizing Night Cream: I'm going to admit that I don't just use this as my night cream, but I use it as my day cream in combination with the Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30.  It's not a thick cream at all and applies just like a lotion. This night cream is rich in vitamins C and E and has kept my skin hydrated, as well as blemish free. Block Island Organics Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 review @agirlsgottaspa Block Island Organics Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30: This sunscreen is like a very thin lotion upon application. It smells deliciously of eucalyptus when you first apply it, but then the scent fades. It absorbs quickly, is non-greasy and hydrates skin with aloe, shea butter and coconut oil while blocking UV rays with zinc. It's lightweight enough that I can mix a little with my Night Cream and wear it during the day under my makeup. Block Island Organics skin care review @agirlsgottaspa This is such a great organic skin care line that I hope you will discover for yourself! You can learn more about this cruelty free and vegan line via Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Disclosure: press samples

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Sunscreen Pills - Do They Really Work?

Shannon Smyth
Do sunscreen pills and drinks really work? Expert advice via @agirlsgottaspa With increasing frequency, I'm finding that I'm getting pitched more often to review sunscreen pills and drinks. I am a true skeptic when it comes to replacing what I know already works (topical sunscreen), and has worked for YEARS, with something so new that claims the same benefits. So I set out to find out the answers to the following questions about sunscreen pills: Do sunscreen pills really work? Do sunscreen pills offer the same protection as topical sunscreen? If sunscreen pills work, how? Are sunscreen pills meant to only be a supplement to topical sunscreen or to actually replace it? Are there side effects to sunscreen pills? Maybe you've had these same questions... "Sunscreen pills contain an active ingredient that may play a role in protecting cells from damage from UV rays. The active ingredient is an extract from a fern plant. This botanical appears to serve as an antioxidant that increases the skin's threshold for sun exposure before sunburn and damage. The benefit is not enough on its own though. The pills don't have an SPF rating because they are not applied topically, but it may provide about as much protection as a topical sunscreen with SPF 3 to 5." says Sally Rafie, PharmD, BCPS, who is a Pharmacist Specialist at UC San Diego Health System and Assistant Clinical Professor of Health Sciences at UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. While sunscreen pills, which contain polypodium leucotomos extract, have been clinically shown to have photoprotective properties and when taken orally, can help fight UVA and UVB rays, Dr. Jill Waibel, Board Certified Dermatologist, and owner of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute says she is a bit skeptical and doesn’t believe that these pills should be used as a single and sole protectant from the sun. Something that I kept hearing repeated as I reached out to dermatologists and estheticians for this article. As she told me, "They should always be taken in conjunction with a sunscreen that has an SPF 30. There is no better way to protect yourself than with sunscreen, so make sure you don’t skimp on the sunblock regardless of other methods you’re using to help protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays." While I knew little about sunscreen pills and sunscreen drinks prior to doing the research for this article, I can say it only reinforced for me that just a pill (or a drink) cannot give you the same physical protection that topical sunscreen can. Additionally, while the brands that pitch me say it is "clinically proven," I do think it is a misleading statement. The tests done have only been by the brands themselves (and honestly "clinically proven" means nothing and is more or less marketing words), and although they claim to work, they usually leave out mentioning that they work as a very low SPF and not the amount recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, which is SPF 30. Essentially sunscreen pills work as an anti-oxidant, which can help repair damage and provide some protection from UV rays, but not to the same strength and degree as something that is applied directly to your skin. As for side effects, Dr. Waibel told me that sunscreen pills have not been extensively studied, so the side effects, if any, are unknown at this time. So I'm going to skip the beauty trend of sunscreen pills and sunscreen drinks and stick with what I know works - topical sunscreen. Our favorites? Sun Bum (and their lip balm), Supergoop (their gradual self-tanner is good too) and MDSolarSciences. What are your thoughts? Have you tried sunscreen pills and drinks? What has your experience been? Leave a comment and let us know! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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Sun Bum SPF Lip Balm Review

Shannon Smyth
Sun Bum Flavored #Sunscreen #LipBalm #Review One of the most under-protected parts of your body when it comes to sun exposure, is your lips. I'm definitely guilty of applying lip gloss regularly, most without SPF, which is like a big UV magnet. Anyone willing to admit the same? Amanda raved over Sun Bum's Continuous Spray Sunscreen, and when we recently gave away Sun Bum's SPF Lip Balm during a Twitter Party, which comes in delicious flavors, I was intrigued. A lip balm that protects and tastes good? Count me in. Sun Bum Pink Guava SPF Lip Balm Sun Bum SPF Lip Balm provides SPF 30 broad spectrum coverage, and come in flavors like Pink Guava, Pomegranate, Mango, Banana, Key Lime and Coconut. When applied, there is a small amount of shine, so it's perfect for those of us who are lip gloss fiends. The lip balm is clear, so there won't be any color applied to your lips, but you'll love the scent, taste and knowing that you are protecting your pout from damaging UV rays. They're completely affordable at about $4 too! Have you tried them? Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! for more beauty reviews! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle tooShannon on G+ *Disclosure

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Summer Protection with MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme SPF 50

Gail Lewis
md-solar-sciences-mineral-creme-broad-spectrum-spf-50-uva-uvb-sunscreenNo summer beauty routine is complete without the incorporation of a great sunscreen.  Which for me means one with at least an SPF of 30, one that isn't greasy feeling and oily looking and one that does not leave my skin looking chalky.  And I've found my perfect sunscreen for summer just in time for a Memorial Day weekend teeming with outdoor activities. MD Solar Sciences Mineral Creme SPF 50 Broad Spectrum UVA-UVB Sunscreen is the perfect combination of natural, lightweight, matte with an SPF of 50 and is pretty much invisible on skin with the exception of a really pretty glow.  The Mineral Creme rubs in quickly and easily and best of all I can't even feel it on my skin...even after reapplying it my skin never felt greasy or clogged. This is absolutely the best sunscreen for my face.  In the summer my skin is more prone to breakouts than at any other time of the year and MD Solar Sciences Mineral Creme SPF is specifically formulated for acne prone skin.  Besides feeling and looking amazing on my skin, this sunscreen also contains antioxidants, naturally derived Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide and does not contain parabens, allergens, gluten, fragrance or irritants.   Aesthetically, I just love the packaging of this sunscreen with its pink tube with the lime green cap; it just screams summer.  For me this sunscreen had absolutely no cons and I am elated that I found the perfect sunscreen to use all year round! (Shannon also did a review of their Mineral Lotion SPF 50.) Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! for more beauty reviews! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! *Disclosure

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Sun Bum Continuous Spray Sunscreen Review

AmandaOnAir2 comments
Sun Bum Continuous Spray #sunscreen #review

As you may have read, I was diagnosed with Melanoma just a couple of years ago. Life after Melanoma requires a lot more preparation when spending time out in the sun and while I was once a sporadic sunscreen user, I am now a faithful daily user.

Something I’ve learned over the past few years of trying almost every sunscreen available … they are NOT all made the same! They come in a variety of forms, apply and protect differently, and most of all feel different.

I may be jumping the gun here, but I already started online shopping for our honeymoon in October and sunscreen was top of the list.  Being prepared for nice weather and vacation means my sunscreen and sun safety product arsenal gets restocked.

As I was doing some shopping for the honeymoon, I added Sun Bum’s Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 70+ ($15) to my shopping cart. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sun Bum and a friend of mine swears that it’s the only sunscreen she’s ever used that doesn’t feel like a thick film coating her body. I’ve been dying to try it! 

When it comes to SPF, I always reach for the higher numbers. No matter what level SPF you choose, it's important to keep in mind that you still need to reapply regularly.

The one thing that bothers me about reapplying sunscreen is that by the end of the day, I typically feel like I am coated in guck. I'm thrilled to report that using Sun Bum’s Continuous Spray Sunsreen SPF 70+ left behind no guck, no coating, and no sticky film. AMEN!

This can is a winner and at $15, you're getting a superior product that won't break the bank. I’ve been using it daily and my first impression was a lasting one … I literally said aloud “Ahhhh, it’s light!” I absolutely LOVE how light this formula is. It’s not sticky or filmy, and it applies clear. That is one of my favorite things about it.

It applies clear and it absorbs into your skin with one stroke of your hand. Unlike many other sunscreens, it doesn’t spray on as white streaks that need to be rubbed in. Not only is that a time saver, but it looks and feels better too.

Have you ever used a sunscreen that applied white and left your skin looking milky and painted on? Those just aren't the kind of sunscreens you can wear day to day. Sun Bum is the kind of sunscreen you can (and I have been) literally wear daily, anywhere, and you don’t even realize you have it on.

With other sunscreens, I've been hesitant to wear nice clothing while wearing it because I didn’t want to ruin my clothes, this ultra waterproof and sweat proof light formula is a dream for everyday use.

It’s also a great pick if you’re active outdoors in the summer or vacationing. This is an everyday sunscreen you an apply over your regular moisturizer and not develop a thick film. It applies perfectly clear, feels light, and the scent is gentle and pleasant…kind of vacation-y.

SUN BUM sunscreen

And if my friendly nod of approval and adoration isn’t enough …  here’s a super important seal of approval. Sun Bum Sunscreen is tested, approved and recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation, you can be assured you’re getting the best in skincare.

So far, I only got my hands on Sun Bum’s Continuous Spray Sunscreen, (which is available in SPF 15+, 30+, 50+, and 70+) but Sun Bum products are available in a variety of forms.

Sun Bum Continuous Spray Sunscreen review. #sunprotection #sunbum

I already have my eyes on the Sun Bum Face Stick. Considering how effortless and light the spray sunscreen is, I can only imagine how perfect the face stick is going to be!

Sun Bum products are:

  • Paraben Free
  • Oil Free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Won’t Clog Pores
  • Anti Aging
  • Photostable

If you’re looking for a day to day sunscreen that easy and light, I highly recommend giving Sun Bum’s Continuous Spray Sunscreen a try. If you’re new to spray sunscreen – hold the can 4-6 inches away and spray! Sun Bum’s Continuous Spray Sunscreen mists on and rubs in with one swipe. It is THAT light.

Continuous spray means it’ll keep coming until you’re done spraying! This can sprays with ease and allows you to use all the sunscreen you want with one long spray!  

Speaking of using all of the sunscreen you want, did you know the average person only uses 1/4th of the amount of sunscreen they need/should? Apply liberally friends! Practice safe sun!

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! for more beauty reviews! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!


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Review: MDSolarSciences Mineral Screen Lotion SPF 50

Shannon Smyth6 comments
When reflecting back on my memories of my 6-year old self, I recall sitting on the counter making chocolate chip and walnut homemade cookies in the kitchen of my Aunt Patty.  I was in love with her. She had a brilliant smile and at the time, she was my favorite aunt. My mind quickly moves to the next memory of sitting on her bedroom floor as she lay in her bed instructing my Uncle David to give me a small orange stuffed lion and an over-sized teddy bear (pictured.) They debated back and forth whether she should give me her comic book collection. They decided no because I was too young. I didn't understand why she was giving away her stuff to me. Next she asked me to go into the living room, sit on the couch and, "Do not turn around no matter what." Tell that to a 6 year old and what did I automatically do? As my beloved Aunt Patty, all of 29 years old, attempted to rush down the hall to the bathroom I snuck a peek at her. My eyes grew wide and my mouth fell open in horror. My aunt was bald. I quickly turned around and quietly cried. I could not comprehend what was happening. My memories are blurred for the month after that day and I remember all too well standing in a funeral home sobbing as I stared at my Aunt Patty in her casket. My mother told me to go tell my Uncle David that I was sorry for his loss...but I couldn't because who was sorry for my loss? My Aunt Patty died from Melanoma. A skin cancer that is the most common form of cancer for ages 25-29. Although you can get melanoma regardless of age, a person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than 5 sunburns at any age.* (Skin Cancer Foundation) MDSolarSciences, a skin cancer prevention and sun protection company, was founded by leading dermatologic oncologist Dr. Robert J. Friedman. Not only does MDSolarSciences sell broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen, but they also have clothing, eyewear (coming soon) and UV detection products AND they are committed to educating the public. I had a chance to try their Mineral Creme Broad Spectrum SPF 50, which is for both adults and children, as well as for those with sensitive skin. Upon first look, it is immediately clear that this sunscreen is like no other. It comes out of the tube like an aloe vera type lotion would--thin in consistency, but not too thin. When applied you will notice in an instant that this product is silky smooth...and the "white residue/ashy" look you are used to with typical sunscreens? Not happening with this one! As you smooth it over your skin, it disappears! And it is so lightweight, you honestly will forget you have it on! (But still remember to reapply every 2 hours when outdoors having fun in the sun!) There is no fragrance, which a long time ago as a teenager that typical coconut scent was everything--now protecting my skin trumps that. Every time I use sunscreen, I am always reminded of my aunt. Have you tried their sunscreens? If you want to protect others of the risk of skin cancer, please share this post with them. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! for more beauty reviews! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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Suncare: UVA and UVB protection

Shannon Smyth3 comments
Protecting your skin from UV rays is a daily task. I know several people who have had a Melanoma and Melanoma Cancer. When caught early, it can be taken care of; however, I did have a favorite family member pass away when I was 6 years old from Melanoma Cancer. My aunt was only in her early 20's when she died. So this is not something that can happen at an older age--but at any time in life. What's the difference between UVA and UVB and how do they affect our skin? #suncare #skincare #skincancer #melanoma So let's talk about what we can do to protect our skin from the sun's damaging rays. First, what are UVA and UVB rays and where and how do they affect us?

How UVA Affects Us:

Can pass through window glass. Is not affected by a change in altitude or weather. Is present all day and every day of the year. Penetrates deep into skin layers. Is 5% of the sun's rays. Is 20 times more abundant than UVB rays. Affects long-term skin damage.

How UVB Affects Us:

Cannot pass through window glass. Causes sunburn. Causes tanning. Helps the body with normal vitamin D production. Varies with the season. It is more intense in the summer than in the winter. Varies with weather conditions. Is more intense at midday than in the morning or late afternoon. Is more intense at high altitudes and near the equator. Is protected against by the SPF in sunscreens. Is related to more than 90% of non-melanoma skin cancer. SPF (sunscreen protection factor) is your key to protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays. The SPF # is what predicts how long your skin can be in the sun with a low risk of burning or damaging your skin. SPF 30 is best, while the higher SPF only provide minimally more protection. While water resistant sunscreens help maintain sunscreen on your skin through perspiring and water activity, it is only for a few hours and it is best to reapply sunscreen every two hours regardless. Should you get a sunburn, you will feel the effects within 2-6 hours of the burn. In more severe cases, sun poisoning can occur. I have had sun poisioning in the past, and it is not fun! While we're discussing using sunscreen in the spring and summer months, it is incredibly important to wear it year round. UVA and UVB rays are ever-present regardless of season. The intensity may vary, but you are still at risk for sun damage to your skin. As you age, dark spots will begin to emerge showing sun damage from years ago. I can certainly see the age spots on my face, but it is even more disturbing when I have my skin looked at under UV light when getting a facial and see just how extensive the damage is. Check out our post on sunscreens that won't detroy the coral reefs which includes our favorite sun protection products. If you're not convinced you need to always wear sunscreen, check out our Q&A with a Melanoma survivor. How do you protect your skin from the sun year round? Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Or check out our natural bath and body line!

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