Thursday, July 28, 2011


I'm Katelyn and this is my blog. A year and a half ago I quit my job in retail and started learning about a lot of random stuff: dogs, cooking, computer programming, cosmetics, fertility, etc., etc. And while this information will not make me a judge at a dog show or a professional chef, I realized that I had a lot of things that I wanted to share with people. My interests do tend to have a couple of themes: good design and living well.  I am above all a creature of comfort with an eye for beauty.  Consequently you're going to see a lot of recipes, art that I think is neat,  and lifestyle things I've been researching.

In the last few days I've been doing a crazy amount of research on natural cosmetics and household products. This all started with an insane search for a sunscreen that would be safe for Daisy.  This is Daisy:

Because of her light-colored coat and the St. John's Wort she is taking for anxiety she is extremely prone to sunburn. Since this pup will eat anything, I wanted to make sure that if she licked some of the sunscreen off she wouldn't get sick. After a discussion with my vet and much googling, I found out that there really is not a good pet sunscreen. Furthermore, I found out that over 90% of human sunscreens are toxic and may actually cause skin cancer. Here are what I consider the important points:

There are two types of sunscreen: those that chemically block the sun and those that physically block the sun. Most sunscreens on the market are the chemical kind. These chemicals are very toxic. I know "toxic" is a sort of catch-all buzzword for bad stuff, but I'm talking about serious stuff like chemicals that bioaccumulate, that are linked to birth defects, cancer, etc.  For example retinol, a common ingredient in many skin products, causes birth defects and can cause free radicals that cause skin cancer.

The physical kind of sunscreen usually contains zinc oxide as its main ingredient, which only penetrates the outer layers of your skin and physically blocks the sun (older formulations used to be really white in color). These are much safer especially if you opt for one that doesn't have a lot of other hazardous chemicals like parabens and formaldehyde.  Unfortunately, if ingested, zinc can be toxic to your dog.  So for now we're keeping Daisy inside during peak hours and keeping her from sunbathing belly up by the window.

The Environmental Working Group has a scary report on sunscreens. They also have an awesome database with safety ratings for thousands of cosmetics including sunscreen. The lower the rating the better. After some digging around in this database I found that many of my favorite products rated really high and I decided that I wouldn't keep anything above a 2 rating (the highest "low risk" evaluation). And so began the search to replace all of the personal care products in my home with safer natural versions. More on that next time.