KIOS: Grooming, Part 5: Lotions and Sunscreen

This post is part of my series, “Kickin’ It Old Skool: Why and How We Are Old-Fashioned” or KIOS for short.  If you’re new to the series, please read my disclaimer before continuing on.  I’m keeping a table of contents to this series here so you can see what I’ve already written about and what more there is to come.

I used to be obsessed with lotion and sunscreen.  I had a special face lotion with SPF 15.  I had two kinds of lotion for my body.  I had scented lotion for when I wanted to smell nice. Understandably, when we travel now, my toiletries bag is much lighter!

Lotions (or what we use to nourish our skin):

The only “lotion” we currently use is oil.  We primarily use almond oil for our skin (both face and body) and I sometimes use coconut oil, too.  We have some stronger hand salve for when our hands are really dry (for example, from too much dish washing in the drier months of winter).  We also keep diaper creme around for baby bottoms, although we don’t use it much because we use cloth diapers.

Why don’t we use lotion any more?  It is practically impossible to find reasonably-priced lotion that does not have a long list of unpronounceable, sometimes toxic ingredients.  In order to keep the lotion liquid, safe, and able to absorb quickly without feeling greasy, manufacturers have to use a long list of preservatives and other additives.  So even though I have lots of warm fuzzy feelings about Eucerin (having grown up in ultra-dry-air Alaska), we don’t have anything like that around anymore.

I also don’t use anything special on my face related to skin tone or aging or wrinkles.  I’ve decided to accept that my face is going to change as I get older and that I don’t need to fight it.  The grandmother of a good friend of mine had an amazingly deeply wrinkled face.  She was beautiful and I hope that as I age, I’ll be able to embrace my wrinkles with grace, just like she and my grandmothers did.

I have, however, been wanting something a little bit more than just almond oil for my face and I listed a few ideas below that I am considering.

Sunscreen (or how we keep our skin safe):

Sunscreen is a really difficult issue.  I have very fair skin which burns really easily so I have to be very careful in the sun.  Skin cancer is a very real threat and we certainly don’t take that lightly.  However, we also are extremely wary of the chemicals used in almost all commercial  sunscreens because the active ingredients are potential hormone disrupters.  I am particularly conscious of avoiding chemical sunscreens when I am pregnant and/or nursing because I don’t want to risk transferring those chemicals to my babies.  While there is some disagreement about the dangers of chemical sunscreen, we’d rather err on the side of caution.

The other problem with constant sunscreen use is that we like to get a little bit of unprotected sun every day for Vitamin D production.  That’s good for health and sanity!

So here’s what we do for sunscreen and sun safety:

1. We do our best to stay out of the sun, particularly during the strong midday hours.

2. When in the sun, we wear hats to shade our faces and necks. (That reminds me that I need to get us all hats for this summer!)

3. We try to get about 1/2 hour of unprotected sun per day for Vitamin D production.

4.   If we do have to be out in the sun, then we wear non-chemical (i.e. mineral) sunscreen.  This tends to be really expensive so we were grateful to find a fairly inexpensive option last summer.  The ingredient list is still long, with lots of unpronounceable ingredients but at least the active ingredients are not so offensive.  There is also some debate about the safety of nano or micronized mineral particles (which this sunscreen does have).  So basically we’ve chosen what is to us the lesser of two evils.  We try to limit our use of it to only when we’re actually going to be in the sun for longer than a few minutes.

5.  Even when we are out in the sun (like at the beach, for example), we stay in shade as much as possible.  The beach umbrella and my hat were my best friends when we were in Greece last summer.


About lotion:

This pineapple-infused facial lotion and this body butter both sound fun!

I’m probably more likely to make this simple cream, which sounds wonderful for my skin.

If I do buy lotion, I’ll probably buy a hard lotion bar.  Nik bought me this peppermint-rosemary one for Christmas a couple years ago and here’s another post about another company which makes them.

About sunscreen:

This EWG database is helpful when determining which sunscreen to buy.

Here’s a good summary of why the sunscreen issue is so difficult for us.

Here’s a little post about sun and Vitamin D production although this too is a controversial topic so I would suggest doing your own research before deciding what to do for yourself.

I’m so paranoid about getting sunburnt that I’m not sure if I would be brave enough to depend on sunscreen that I’d made myself.  Here’s some information about doing so if you’re interested.

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3 Responses to KIOS: Grooming, Part 5: Lotions and Sunscreen

  1. Karyn says:

    A few things. I LOVE my hard lotion bar.

    I vaguely remember someone mentioning to me last summer at the pool that they used straight coconut oil for sunscreen. But now I can’t remember who that was. I haven’t researched it–on my long list of things to check into. 🙂 We, too, avoid sunscreen and go the hat and swim shirt route.

    And…this post reminded me of something I forgot to ask last time you mentioned almond oil. I have a bottle, and I’ve used it off and on. I would love to be consistent, but i haven’t figured out a good system for getting it on my skin. I feel like whenever I use it I end up with a mess in the bathroom. Suggestions?

    • Laura says:

      Karyn – I’ve heard that coconut oil actually magnifies the sun when it’s first put on but once it’s soaked in for awhile (I’m not sure how long), then it can have a sun protection effect. I’m not sure how strong it is though. Plus I’m so nervous about getting burnt that I haven’t been willing to experiment to see if it works!

      When I use almond oil, I put just a little bit into the palm of my hand, then close the bottle and wipe off the lid against a dry section of my hand. This usually takes care of the drips, which are what make the mess for us. (And yes, I know exactly the mess you’re talking about.) If I just need a bit of oil for my face, I usually pour out hardly any onto my hand and then close the lid and wipe it off. The excess that wipes off the lid is often close to enough for my face.

  2. Pingback: KIOS: Grooming, Part 8: A Side Discussion About Fragrances (and why you should avoid them) | Salmon and Souvlaki

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