Sunday, September 11, 2011

Review: Goddess Garden Natural Sunscreen

I've often been known to joke that I'd love to visit Hawaii but I'd have to wear a burka at the beach. Although I grew up in Southern California, I was never a sun worshipper and rarely had any kind of tan. My genetic background is mostly Scottish, Swedish and British and it shows in my blonde hair, whiter-than-liquid-paper skin and my tendency to burn if I think about sunshine for too long. After one or two bad incidents as a child, I learned to stay out of the sun for the most part.

Now I live in Seattle, WA. I love Washington and, in reality, it's great for me because we don't have a lot of really sunny days in a row and I could just slap on some sunscreen when I went out on a sunny day but it certainly wasn't year round. Maybe fewer than ten days in the summer.

Then about three years ago, I developed rosacea. This is an auto-immune disease that makes my face really red, gives me acne-like breakouts and if it's irritated too much, the skin on my face starts to burn and tingle like a bad case of ant bites. It also means I'm extremely susceptible to irritation from many topical products.

So I stayed inside pretty much all the time - which is not actually very good for me.

Now I'm both on my path to losing weight and becoming a runner as well as being the team photographer for my ten-year-old son's soccer team. And I've discovered I like walking outside in nice weather (and running is in that plan, too). Now, I'm not stupid and I still usually wear a hat & sunglasses and I don't stay out all day, but the further I get into my exercise program, the more I resent being stuck inside for long periods of time. I have dreams of even going for outdoor runs in the dead of winter!

I need a good sunscreen that isn't full of chemicals that will irritate my rosacea and is safe. There are a lot of products out there but how do you know their safety?

Well, the Evironmental Working Group (EWG) has a database of sunscreens out that allows you to look up the ones you have or are considering. EWG's Skin Deep is a site I recommend everyone read and user their database. If you look up your sunscreen, you can get detailed information on overall risk and risk for each individual ingredient. It's a GREAT resource.

I've tried several sunscreens so far based on their limited contents and the recommendations in this dabase.

Last year I tried Soleo Organics All Natural Sunscreen. It was pretty thick and required some muscle to dispense from the tube but seemed to cover well and didn't smell bad. It didn't cause my rosacea to react and it didn't leave me with a ghostly white sheen either. I never burned with it on, either. I had intended to use it this year but when I pulled it out, it was separated and smelled rancid. Apparently I don't go through sunscreen fast enough to be able to use the majority of the tube and I've not been able to find a smaller size. So it got discarded because it was costly when I only used about 1/4 of it. (This has an EWG rating of 1: Limited, by the way).

This year I went on the hunt again and tried Mexitan's Sunscreen Lotion. This was quite a bit thinner so it dispensed well and was easy to rub on. It smells very tropical and very nice, actually. It caused no rosacea reaction either. The issue with this product is that, particularly noticeable on my face because of its redness, I was left looking a bit like I was growing mold or had become a zombie with a serious white haze. Ugh. I've kept it because I can still use it on my arms and legs but I wanted a different solution for my face lest someone think the Zombie Apolocolypse has arrived. (This has an EWG rating of 1: Limited, as well).

So back to the database. This time I decided to try Goddess Garden's Natural Sunscreen and Goddess Garden Natural Facial Sunscreen. (EWG Rating 1: Limited on the facial and 2: Limited on the regular sunscreen). I tried them out yesterday at my son's soccer game where I would be in the full sun for two hours, taking pictures.

Both sunscreens were easy to dispense and spread and smelled nice - not too perfumey and not too oily. They soaked in quickly and I could not see a perceptible white haze on my arms or face. My rosacea didn't react at all and my skin didn't feel oily or heavy. Slapping on a hat anyway, I went off to the game and stood in the full sun for the several hours, sweating and hot and even wiping my face periodically. I didn't burn in the least! An extra bonus for me was that I could buy them in smaller sizes than many brands.

I looked up Goddess Garden's story and was happy to learn the company was founded by a mother in need of products for her daughter and has grown a lot since then. I try hard to support smaller niche companies when I can and it makes me happy that I like this product so much.

If you're looking for a great, natural, organic sunscreen with excellent safety ratings that works well, give the Goddess Garden line a try!

(Products bought by myself.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I LUST for these: INKnBURN !

(NOTE: All graphics in this post are copyright INKnBURN)

I occasionally troll through the pages of magazines at my gym and yesterday I found an ad for INKnBURN, a small specialty clothing company in Lake Forest, CA.

Allow me to confess to the fact that I have tattoos - a lot of them - and I like standing out from the crowd. I like edgy designs and, honestly, they are few and far between in running gear. Right now I have a wardrobe of solids and, really, it's pretty boring. But I have come into some strong preferencs that limit my choices in exercise clothes a LOT:
  • I can't stand short sleeve shirts to walk/run in.
  • I can't stand built-in or shelf bras.
  • I can't stand cotton.

See - rather an ugly list of negating factors to most of the mass-market exercise gear for women. So far the best I've been able to do is wear one of my zip up hoodies in glaring tie dye on my way to the gym.

After staring lustfully at INKnBURN's website, I now have the following on my wishlist (you can click on the image to visit the page on INKnBURN's website):

Run or Die Blue Tank
Blue Green Leaf Tech Tank Top
Lust Tank Top
Sun Totem Tech Tank Top

Aren't they amazing?? I'm in lust. I'll need to scrimp and save but, someday, these will be MINE.

Oh, and as an added bonus, they have matching arm warmers! Maybe this will mean I don't have to put on a jacket I will only wear until I get too warm and then have to take off and figure out what to do with!

Blue Run or Die 4ARMS

Green SaLeafs 4ARMS
Lust 4ARMS
Sun Totem 4ARMS
I've got their web page bookmarked and have already subscribed to the newsletter and set up a wishlist. I'd love to get the Run or Die tank in the green and red, also - maybe someday.

I really encourage anyone that wants striking and bold running gear to check out INKnBURN. They have some gorgeous designs for men as well as women and even childrens' sizes!

Now to start saving for mine!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Garmin Foot Pod Placement

I've been doing well with using my Garmin to track my walking but indoors I need to use the Garmin's Foot Pod to track walking on the treadmill because, well, you are walking but not going anywhere!

The Garmin Foot Pod is actually a small accelerometer you are supposed to attach to the laces of your shoes so it lays along the top of your foot. Well, this would be great if I wore shoes with laces....

Since I wear my VFF Komodo Sport shoes to walk in, I don't have laces. I have one velcro strap across the top of my foot and I initially put the Foot Pod on that strap. While it worked, it had some issues with both flopping around a bit and messing up my readings and with having to be taken off and put on again if I switched shoes to wash a pair (great plus of the VFF) or if I was outside for a walk and didn't need the Foot Pod.

When I walked on different treadmills at my gym and looked at several weeks of data comparisons between the Garmin and the treadmill readouts, the Garmin Foot Pod seems to be about .2 mph faster than the treadmill readout. Not enough that I'm willing to go through the hassle of calibrating it.

But after one day where I was somehow getting a blister on one foot and took off my VFFs to walk barefoot on the treadmill, I decided I needed to figure out how to wear the Foot Pod to get reasonable accuracy but be shoe-independent.

So, like any self-respecting geek, I googled around for other people's solutions. There were a lot of people "guessing" that it wouldn't work except if you made a sorta shoelace foot net to put it on - but I did find a few people who said they had tried or were going to try an ankle strap. Most of these were using hair ties or rubber sports bracelets but I saw someone refer to the ankle RoadID.

BINGO - I have two of these (I bought a spare).

Over the last week, I've experimented with the Garmin Foot Pod on the ankle RoadID. I have the Foot Pod on the neoprene strap and the reflective thinner strap wraps over it to keep it secure and reduce extra movement.

The most comfortable position with the least movement seems to be with the Foot Pod on the back of my ankle with the narrow end down (the end that would normally point toward your toes). Using this placement, I looked at some more sets of data and I'm getting about the same error factor as I do with the Foot Pod on top of my foot. So I'll call this a GO.

(Note: I'm using the 2nd generation Foot Pod but have ordered the newer 3rd generation one to try this also)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Small Signs of Progress: Heartrate Changes

Since I gave myself shin-splints a few weeks ago, I've been limiting myself to walking daily. No running. I worried for a while that I would feel like I was stuck because I wasn't progressing to running but I think that was a false concern.

I've been able to walk faster from week to week and I've settled for walking for an hour, most days (a few days I've been the butt of Mother Nature's joke on females and just couldn't go far or fast - but I still went). I started out with under three miles in an hour, now I'm up to over 3.1.

I've also been paying attention to my heartrate and using it to help judge how fast I should be walking. I like my heartrate to be in the 120s during the bulk of my walk. When I first started out, 2.8 mph would have my heartrate in the high 120s easily. And if I slowed down, my heartrate would take several minutes to slow to the 110s.

Today I noticed that walking at 3.4 mph had my heartrate in the low to mid-120s and when I slowed down, it took under a minute for my heartrate to drop.

That's progress that may not show on a scale or as running, but my body is slowly adjusting and getting healthier.!