Category Archives: Advice

Just Say No to Spray Sunscreens by Peggy Hall

sprayI just got back from a restful, healing trip to the island of Kauai…a favorite place to enjoy perfect blue skies,
warm water, and breathe in toxic chemicals…Wait…what? Sorry to say that last line is true!

That’s because so many people are duped when it comes to using sunscreen, that they are literally spraying the air with cancer-causing chemicals in an attempt to “protect” their skin.

Here’s what I mean…and why it’s important to you.

Spray sunscreens have become all the rage for some reason (marketing and advertising at its “best”)–which which for the life of me I cannot understand.

Now if you are cringing as you read this because you, too, have been duped into thinking that you are doing something good for yourself–don’t take it personally!

Of course you can put whatever you want to on your skin–just please don’t expose me and other innocent people to the harmful fall out.

Here’s why I personally stay as far away from spray sunscreens as possible.

First of all, when you spray on sunscreen at the beach or pool, most of the product doesn’t even land on your skin. Instead, it is carried off by the wind (to land on me!) and worse–to be breathed in by innocent bystanders.

Why is it so bad to inhale spray sunscreens?

Well, some of you might be old enough to remember when aerosol sprays were banned because they were “destroying the ozone layer”. (Sort of like vintage global warming.)

These days, the sunscreen sprays are far more harmful because they are loaded with cancer-causing chemicals that, when sprayed, create a carcinogenic mist that carries these toxic chemicals right into your lungs, to then be directly absorbed by your blood stream, putting you at risk for lung disease/cancer, liver disease/cancer and other horrid illnesses and conditions.

Sunscreen sprays are are especially harmful to children, whose immune systems are still developing. That means these innocent children are breathing in toxic chemicals that their delicate lungs and liver cannot filter out.

And people wonder why there is such an increase in illness, disease and issues with early puberty, later infertility etc…

The fact that these spray sunscreens contain cancer-causing chemicals  is not my opinion — it is fact.

Read the facts for yourself at

Now grab your sunscreen (yes, even that expensive one you thought was “natural”) and compare it to this list of toxic ingredients.

KEY: Look under the list of “Active Ingredients” — this means the ingredients are active, doing something to change the skin or chemicals in your body.

Oxybenzone: Increases production of free radicals; increases the incidence and frequency of skin tumors
Homosalate: causes severe acne, skin irritation, skin allergies and inflammation
Avobenzone: unstable in sunlight; breaks down into chemicals which damage DNA
Octisalate: pushes more chemicals into skin for greater toxicity
Octocrylene: Increases production of free radicals that damage DNA damage and contributes to the increased incidence of malignant melanomas = CANCER
BHT: contributes to skin tumors and cancer growth
Diethylhexyl 2 6 Naphthalate: causes testicular atrophy
Parabens, including Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylrparaben, Ethlyparaben: these mimic estrogen production; cause problems with ovaries, testicles, infertility,  reproductive issues, thyroid problems.
Octinoxate or Parsol 1789: mimics estrogen in the body, hinders thyroid function
Methoxycinnamate: implicated in cardiovascular disease; make skin more sensitive to the sun, causes allergies; toxic to liver and reproductive organs.
Retinyl palmitate: A type of Vitamin A, when used with sun exposure, this causes more skin tumors to grow, and to grow faster

For now, ditch the spray and do yourself, the environment, and others around you a huge favor!

Living Swell creator Peggy Hall has positively inspired thousands of people just like you to experience an ocean of bright shiny health and happiness by simplifying the ins and outs of what it takes to be naturally healthy and radiant. Peggy is the featured health expert for the ABC Radio Network and is creator of the best-selling Yoga for Surfers instructional DVD series, and the pioneer of the global surf + yoga movement.


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The Surfer Girl and Skin Cancer: Prevention

After two melanoma diagnoses, I will now spend the rest of my life preventing extraneous sun exposure. The first and most obvious prevention method is to stay out of the sun. As a surfer girl, and basically as a human, this is impossible for me. But there are ways to practice sun safety.

Surf Early: I have started limiting my time at the beach to off-peak hours; the sun is the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so before and after are more ideal times to frolic in the ocean or on the shore. The good news is that the waves are better in the morning. So in the future I will plan to be out of the water at 10 a.m., and I will make sure I am am in the shade under an SPF rated umbrella if I remain on the beach.

sportsspf45-webWear Sunscreen: The next thing to do is to make sure to wear an SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen year-round. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Until recently, I have just picked up the ubiquitous drug store brand, but I am now more conscious of the how chemicals can affect me—and the earth—and I check the ingredients on sunscreens to be sure they’re safe. The Environmental Working Group offers a great list of the best sunscreens for you and your family. Lately, I have been using Suntegrity (created by a daughter who lost her mother to skin cancer) and I often share my two-year-old daughter’s Alba Kids SPF 45 when we are out and about. When applying sunscreen, make sure you put on enough (about two tablespoons) and reapply every two hours.

Cover Up: As I round the corner of 40, I am perfectly happy to put my two-piece bikini days behind me. I still want to look stylish on the beach, so I have started checking out SPF clothing lines, such as Coolibar, Cabana Life, and Mott 50. I purchased the ZnO Pants from Coolibar, along with their swim tights that I will try out in Hawaii this summer. I also bought a pair of swim tights for my daughter and will pair that with a rash guard for her. I have yet to find the perfect sun hat. It needs to be cute and cool, block the sun but not my vision—and I want to be able to throw into a beach bag without crushing it. If you have any suggestions, be sure to send them my way!

When I surf, I almost always wear a full suit and I have a 3:2 and a 4:3 that work perfectly for me in the cool California water. And, okay, fine, I will probably get a dorky surf hat, or at least surf during the morning hours with a water-resistant sunscreen on my face, hands, and feet.

Check Yourself: Finally, it’s recommended that you perform a monthly self-examination of your skin, and be sure to get an annual examination by a dermatologist. It could save your life!

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The Surfer Girl and Skin Cancer: Melanoma

“Do you have a moment to talk?” my doctor asked me over the phone. When I answered that I did, she said, “It’s melanoma.”

A few months before this, I had noticed a mole on my knee. I have a lot of moles, but this one seemed to come on fast and was starting to change colors. I asked my friend who is an ER doctor about it, and she said, “It doesn’t look like anything, but go see your dermatologist.” I also asked the primary physician I share with my daughter during a Well-Baby visit; she said the same thing and gave me a referral. I saw the dermatologist and she said, “It doesn’t look like anything, but we will biopsy it.” So with a small numbing shot and quick use of a knife, it was removed and went off to the lab.

Then I got the call. The good news was that we caught it early. It was only .5 mm deep, which is not very deep by melanoma standards.

The next step was to get it excised—removed along with a 1-cm circle of the skin around it. This I wasn’t thrilled about. When I went to the surgeon, he drew a circle around the mole to indicate the amount of skin he was going to take.  I freaked out. It looked huge. The procedure was relatively painless, but the surgery site is right where my knee bends so the healing process was a bit slow and unpleasant.

Well, when I went back to the dermatologist three months later (I have to go every three months now), I had another mole removed that intuitively felt “funny” to me. Everyone said the same thing again—that it doesn’t look like anything, but get it checked. Again, it was melanoma. This one was even more shallow—.2 mm—and it has healed well since it was on my leg in a non-bendy part.

Since this time, I have met with an oncologist and had a PET scan. Thankfully, the cancer hasn’t traveled into my body. Here is why I am so lucky. I went to see the doctor early. I didn’t wait. Every doctor I have met with said that I saved my life by coming in. It’s hard to imagine that this is all it took.

As a surfer girl, I have spent plenty of time in the sun, but I think of myself as somewhat responsible. I wear sunscreen, but I rarely (if ever) reapply and, often, I wouldn’t put sunscreen on my legs. As a Southern California surfer, I usually wear a full wet suit, and for years I have sat in the shade of an umbrella. I have not tanned in the sun. Okay, okay, when I was a teenager I wore baby oil and “laid out” for hours, but I have never been in a tanning bed. Melanoma doesn’t run in my family, and I tan easily and rarely burn. What I am saying is that I probably only get as much sun as the average Southern Californian beach-goer. If all this makes you nervous, that is my point. I want you to take the following precautions.

The Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Dermatology suggest you avoid the sun during the middle of the day, wear sunscreen year-round (a broad-spectrum with an SPF of at least 30) and reapply every two hours, wear protective clothing along with sunglasses and hats, avoid tanning beds, and become familiar with your skin so you will notice changes. Go and see your dermatologist every year for an annual skin check, and go right away if you notice anything suspicious. I would encourage you to go even if you just have a “funny feeling” about something. Be well, surfer girls!


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Sunscreen Time Again!

My favorite for surf and everyday is from Beauty Counter (here’s my shop,—and you can help support this surfer girl with purchases!).


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Loss of a Surfing Legend: Doc Paskowitz

Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, who passed away today at 93, was a surfing legend with an amazing outlook on life. Watch this Inertia video below to hear him share some wise and inspiring reflections; read this Surfer mag tribute by Matt Warshaw; check out Kelly Slater’s personal goodbye on Instagram; and scroll through the Paskowitz Family’s Facebook page. Moving.

HEADSPACE: Doc Paskowitz from The Inertia on Vimeo.

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Like a Girl: What Does It Mean?

I just saw this fantastic ad by Always on the meaning of doing things “like a girl.” You can only say so much in a three-minute video, but it touches on sexist stereotypes and the socialization of kids—and reminds us that we all start out fierce and full of power. As a grown-up girl, I am proud to say I do everything “like a girl” and wouldn’t want to do it any other way. (Only wish they would have added “surf like a girl” to their list of examples!) Watch.

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Covering Up for Sun Protection: Safe Sunscreen Picks


Cross-posted on my Sideshow by the Seashore blog

There’s so much to love about being in the great outdoors—paddling out for a surf or swimming in the ocean, relaxing on a sandy beach, hiking in a park or strolling along the shore, eating al fresco, reading a book in the front yard. For all of these activities, the warmth and light from the sun can seem magical.

So here’s the “but.” The sun can warm you, give you light, and provide good-for-you vitamin D, but too much exposure can be damaging and cause skin cancer.

Happily, you can still enjoy the sun while protecting yourself with non-toxic products that block the damaging rays. The best way to start is by consulting the Environmental Working Group’s guide to safe sunscreens, which includes recommendations for safe products that contain zinc oxide and other better-for-you ingredients. My safe sunscreen favorites:

Face: The Organic Wear line from Physicians Formula makes a lightweight tinted moisturizer with SPF 15. For more coverage, I use the Supergoop! CC Cream with SPF 35 or Jane Iredale’s PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation with SPF 20. Tip: after applying product to your face, wipe excess on the tops of your hands.

Lips: Badger has a lip balm stick with SPF 15 that I use alone or blended with a lip color product. My favorite tinted lip balms with SPF: Alba Botanica’s Terratints with SPF 15 and the All Good Lips line with SPF 18 from Elemental Herbs.

Body: I like sunscreens from Badger, California Baby, and Alba Botanica’s Very Emollient sunscreen line, which is especially gentle and effective.

For protection that doesn’t come in a bottle, compact, or tube, you can count on hats, sunglasses, and clothing—sarongs and thin cotton tunics are great for covering up at the beach, even when it’s hot.

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