Choosing a Safe Sunscreen
The long days of summer are here and increased exposure to UV rays is something we all need to be aware of. Are you prepared to protect your skin during this time of increased outdoor activity? We hope to offer some helpful solutions for your summer skin that are safe and simple to implement.
Prolonged sun exposure can lead to premature aging of the skin, wrinkling, as well as suppression of the immune system. Covering up, wearing a hat, limiting exposure during peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and using sunscreen are just a few ways to protect yourself while outdoors.
If using sunscreen, it is important to choose a product that is safe for your skin and also has broad spectrum protection, meaning it effectively protects against significant portions of both the ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) ranges of the light spectrum. The Environmental Working Group (EWG)* discovered that 80% of sunscreens on the market offer “inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients.” One ingredient commonly found in non-mineral sunscreens is oxybenzone. This chemical is a common UV filter in sunscreen and can disrupt the hormone system.
Classic vs. Mineral Sunscreen
Another important factor in choosing a sunscreen is classic vs. mineral. Classic and Mineral sunscreens are differentiated by their active sun protection ingredients. Classic sunscreens use chemical (also commonly referred to as “non-mineral” or “traditional”) active ingredients designed to absorb and dissipate UVA/UVB rays, while Mineral sunscreens use mineral (also commonly referred to as “physical”) active ingredients such as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide to scatter and reflect UVA/UVb rays. Since mineral actives are not absorbed into the skin these formulas are less irritating to sensitive skin and are also less likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream as “traditional” actives are.
COOLA Mineral Travel Set
At Osmosis, we currently offer COOLA brand sunscreen. COOLA uses as many ingredients as possible that are natural, organic, sustainable and locally sourced. Green, yet still luxurious, each of their high performance products protect and nourish the skin with vitamins and age-defying antioxidants, while remaining free of parabens, paba, petroleum and phthalates. Additionally, they formulate with Plant Protection® rather than Oxybenzone, which allows them to achieve clinically tested, broad spectrum and antioxidant-rich protections while using fewer traditional actives. Better for your skin, better for the environment. COOLA also offers both Mineral and Traditional active based sunscreens, using the healthiest active ingredients possible!
This month we are featuring our COOLA Mineral Travel Set, which includes a quartet of COOLA’s bestselling luxury mineral sun care must haves, all in TSA approved carry-on sizes! These high-performance products protect and nourish the skin with vitamins and age-defying antioxidants, while remaining free of undesirable chemicals. All in a reusable, travel-friendly and limited edition COOLA travel clutch! Order yours now just in time for Summer!
*EWG provides information on sunscreen products from the published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) sunscreen guide reviewed more than 1,700 SPF products like sunscreens, lip balms and moisturizers.
Since 2007, they have found a dramatic increase in the availability of mineral-only sunscreens, doubling from 17 percent of products to 34 percent in 2016. Sunscreens using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to rate well in their analysis: They are stable in sunlight, offer a good balance between protection from the two types of ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) and don’t often contain potentially harmful additives.
Oxybenzone is a common UV filter in sunscreen. It is a hormone disruptor and allergen. Sampling by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection has detected it in the urine of 97 percent of Americans. Despite emerging concerns, the sunscreen industry continues to rely heavily on oxybenzone as an active ingredient: it was in 70 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens evaluated for this year’s guide.
Master Pruner at Osmosis
by Michael Alliger
The summer solstice finds us focusing on California native plants used here in the Osmosis gardens. The theme of our garden design is California Asian, that is to say, a garden structured and pruned in the Asian way yet representative of our place here on this continent through the employment of some native plant material in addition to plants from Asia.
The development of Asian gardens has been in play for literally a thousand years. The pruning techniques, plant and stone choices, and spatial relationships have been refined through trial and error as well as bursts of creative genius. The appropriate plant material has been culled from the native landscape again through trial and error. Appropriateness refers largely to prunability: can a plant be maintained at the human scale required by the garden plan while still evoking the essence of the natural surroundings. This process of local plant selection, while age-old in Japan, is in its infancy here in California. It is the goal of the Osmosis garden not only to create a sense of place (home) by using native plants but also to further the cultivation of them. Our garden is somewhat of a proving ground in that regard; experimenting with the possibilities and limitations of the plants surrounding us.
The plant choices we have made vary in their adaptability from co-operative to questionable to doubtful. Among those most easily facilitated are the vine maple, ceanothus, two forms of ribes (currant) and manzanita. The vine maple is pruned as any Japanese maple with reduction for scale and thinning for appearance. Ceanothus gets cutback as the new growth extends after flowering. This plant is best kept full and usually either grouped or with accompanying plants beneath as they tend to defoliate below. Our pink flowering currant represents one of spring’s first blooms while also providing a screen along a path. Most pruning here is done in winter to contain the plant from its inherent wildness keeping it the right height and thickness and out of the path. We have found that by shearing the sprawling ribes viburnifolium we can create a form resembling the Japanese tamamono or horizontal oval. Manzanita has been used in several ways from shearing into O-karikomi style (contoured drift) to general screen to focal point at front entry sign. Each of these is pruned in late spring-summer as new growth follows flowering. The shearing of Manzanita definitely falls into the category of experimentation but has shown to be effective for a minimum of 10 years.
Shore Pine at Osmosis
Among the plants still in the discovery stage or requiring fairly adept pruning would be the shore pine and Douglas fir (surprisingly!). Without too much difficulty the shore pine can be pruned in the style of Japanese black pine by a skilled technician.
The Douglas fir lends itself to pruning quite readily as it exhibits the ability to freely break bud on bare wood, a characteristic rarely found in a conifer. This back budding allows for wholesale cutback and general pruning. The possibilities are seemingly limited only by the imagination and talent of the pruner. We have two that are documented to be over 50 years old and neither is over 7’ and both are full and lush shrub forms.
The tree with which we have had some success though cannot whole-heartedly recommend is the Monterey cypress. While this tree, known along the Pacific coast for it’s fabulous windswept shapes, can reach 40 to 60’ our specimen has remained at no more than 18’ with serious reductive pruning. The tree’s rapid growth and susceptibility to disease and infestation from hard pruning relegate it to doubtful in an ornamental garden.
We have barely touched the surface in our survey of native plants though some of the others tried include huckleberry, snowbell, and hazelnut. To find ourselves at the initiatory stage of this endless exploration gives a greater context to our deployment of Asian pruning and design techniques while lending a more familiar feel to exotic aesthetics.
Douglas Fir at Osmosis
Pink Flowering Ribe at Osmosis
Have you ever wondered how you could possibly make time for self care when you have kids? Are you feeling guilty that you haven’t spent quality time with your family in a while? At Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, we have a solution. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to prioritize self care as well as family time. Sound a bit like having your cake and eating it too? Well it is, and you deserve it! Read on to find our Top 5 Tips on How to Parent and Enjoy Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary.
- Meander towards the coast on a scenic drive. Connect with your family as you enjoy the variety of landscapes that Sonoma County has to offer: from oak-studded hills to scenic valleys, from redwood groves to windswept beaches. Osmosis is located in the historic town of Freestone at the beginning of the Bohemian Highway. Nestled between river and coast, redwoods and vineyards, Freestone is close to everything wonderful in West Sonoma County.
- Indulge Mom while discovering the world-famous California Coastal Redwoods in a way you never imagined. Mom begins her great escape by settling into the warmth of a Cedar Enzyme Bath. This warm and fragrant treatment offers myriad health benefits, from improving circulation to relieving joint and muscle pain. This is followed by the Osmosis Fusion Massage in a secluded Pagoda along the forested banks of Salmon Creek. Her journey of quietude concludes in the Japanese style meditation garden where she is invited to walk, lay, sit, or meditate while experiencing its ethereal feel that is unmistakably calming. At the same time, Dad and the kids head down Bohemian Highway to Sonoma Canopy Tours just 6 miles away. They have two unique courses that feature zip lines, bridges and rappels for most ages and abilities. As well as panoramic forest views and deep ravines.
- Nourish the Family Unit with Fresh Baked Bread, Artisan Cheese and Gardens. After a couple hours of high adventure, it is time to come together and grab some fresh bread at Wild Flower Bakery in Freestone, (please note their business hours of Fri., Sat., Sun., and Mon. from 8am-6:30pm). This quaint, storied bake shop has organic French breads, scones & other treats, plus specialty coffees is a great way to break up the day. Visitors are welcome to wander in their garden located just beside the bakery. It features herbs, vegetables and flowers and picnic tables. Don’t forget to pick up some hand crafted artisan cheeses along the way at Freestone Artisan Cheese just a short walk through town.
- Rejuvenate Dad while discovering windswept beaches. A cedar enzyme bath is a good place to start for Dad. This fermentation bathing ritual involves immersing your entire body in a mixture of soft and fragrant ground cedar and rice bran with living enzymes that stimulate metabolic activity inside and out. Next up for Dad is an Osmosis Men’s Signature Facial, specially formulated for men’s skin care needs, including a series of hot towels and a relaxing foot treatment. At the same time, Mom begins her bonding adventure with the kids at Doran Beach Regional Park. This family friendly beach has a wide, 2-mile stretch of beach on Bodega Bay and is ideal for walking, picnicking, playing in the sand, flying kites, surfing, and bird-watching.
- Conclude the Day’s adventure with Dinner & Shopping. After Mom, Dad and the kids have been wonderfully nurtured, it is time for the family to come together to enjoy some food and shopping. The Barlow brings together the very best wine makers, food producers and artisans, creating a space that offers a direct connection between the consumer and the makers of the local products they love. It’s a place to share food and enjoy art, wine and time together.
These Top 5 Tips, are only a suggestion to the myriad of good times and relaxation a family can have together while spending the day in West Sonoma County. Feel free to substitute any adventure with some of the links below. We also invite you to explore our website to further customize your your experience to fit your families needs.
Sonoma Canopy Tours
Wild Flower Bakery
Freestone Artisan Cheese
Armstrong Redwoods State Park
Burke’s Canoe Trips
Bodega Bay Kayak
Vertex Climbing Center
Sonoma Country Regional Parks
by Michael Alliger
Welcome to the spring edition of the Osmosis garden journal! As we know, calendar spring begins in March as does the emerging of new growth on plants. However, from a plant grooming standpoint we consider spring to be from approximately mid- April through mid-June here in Sonoma County, Northern California. During this period the tender new growth of plants begins to harden (toughen) up. It is at this point that we can plan our first prunings. Because everything’s happening at once, things can get rather rambunctious without a plan. At Osmosis, we map out a strategy of pruning priorities based on a number of factors. These are: plant role, plant requirements, future development, and degree to which new growth is contrary to garden’s design.
Regarding role, the key or focal trees are noted first while background plants are last to be addressed. There is middle category of auxiliary plantings (sheared shrubs, smaller accompaniment trees/shrubs) that are attended to on an as-needed basis.
With respect to timing, it is helpful to distinguish flower growth from foliar growth. Some plants like plum or camellia flower before shoot and leaf growth. As flowers are finishing, foliar growth begins. Therefore a plant like camellia, if properly tended to the year before, will need no pruning until new shoots have emerged and hardened up after flowering. Though grooming (deadheading, cleaning, insect inspection, etc.) may be ongoing, Rhododendrons, flowering slightly later than camellias, are pushed back on the pruning calendar a little further and for the same reason.
Some trees have special characteristics which must be respected. Japanese maples for example have very thin, delicate leaves as well as thin skin-like bark. Because of this tenderness, it’s important to prune Japanese maples before the onset of prolonged heat and drought, especially those exposed to afternoon sun. Vigorous males will sometimes push out a second flush of growth requiring pruning in summer, but beware.
With any pruning it is paramount to keep in mind the purpose of the pruning, usually two-fold: containment and aesthetics. Since scale (relative size) is so important to Japanese-style gardens the spring cutback is critical. For a natural look this reduction of height and width must be accompanied by thinning in order to achieve balance of the three dimensions including density.
In regards to containment, garden pines such as Japanese black and mugo are growing vigorously in spring. Their growth manifests as long tubular-like shoots known as candles. It is from these candles that needles emerge. They are also the mechanism by which pines accelerate their extension in space. A note on flowering: pines produce both cones often found on the candle tip and pollen sacs around the candle. At the right (or wrong) time these sacs can emit an almost suffocating amount of yellow pollen if brushed. Mugo pines that have achieved their appropriate design height should have all the candles cut back. This is known as candling. Some thinning may also be required to keep the plant from becoming too internally crowded. As far as black pines go there are scores of theories as to how best achieve containment and the desired styling. They all begin with the candles: whether or not to remove them; if so, when; and to what degree. At Osmosis we remove all except the smallest candles. This pruning neatens the tree, keeps it right-sized and leads to future development into the Japanese style. This style is achieved via the secondary growth that occurs over the summer following removal of candle. For maximum value of secondary growth it’s important that candling occur neither too early nor too late. The approximate time for candling is at the unfolding of the needles from the candle.
There are many other trees and shrubs at Osmosis, which are among those pruned as needed. They are tough enough to take harsher conditions and have few to no special requirements. These include among others juniper, nandina, oak, magnolia and dogwood. Many of these will be addressed in our summer edition.
Along with weeding the most important early spring task in the garden is the testing and preparation of the drip irrigation system. Each valve, line and emitter must be checked to be certain that water is being appropriately delivered to needy plants. In a garden (5 gardens, actually!) the size of Osmosis this annual refurbishing can be quite a project though we couldn’t get along without it. Along with clearing and checking the lines, the emitters and laser tubing are repositioned to compensate for the past year’s root growth.
Also at this time begins the monthly fertilizing of the Japanese bog iris and other water plants.
Rhododendrons often require additional acid fertilizer the regular application of which is begun as the flowers fade usually in middle May.
The very popular chamomile beds at Osmosis barely make it through the summer what with the nocturnal visits of raccoons and possums as well as the ever- disturbing tactics of gophers and moles. Consequently, these beds are re-done each spring at this time. Other shallow plantings such as woodland moss, elfin thyme and Irish moss are done now as well.
As rains diminish the containerized plantings which are not on irrigation must receive regular waterings and a schedule is set up for this.
Please enjoy this precious season as plant growth returns reminding us of our place as nature’s stewards.