The Abacus - Job Description

Job Summary:

 Work at the grassroots of a fresh local sustainable skincare brand on Vancouver Island with a small team of young professionals and witness how your efforts and ideas can shape a business. This position is focused on tracking inventory as it moves along the manufacturing line. From -raw ingredients and packaging- to finished product- to its final sale and shipment- the Abacus will report inventory levels every month to the team.

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Did you know sunblock and sunscreen should traditionally mean different things? 

Sunblock should refer to a product that blocks UVA and UVB radiation from penetrating the skin... like a shield! A sunblock is a physical filter.

Sunscreen should refer to a product that absorbs into the skin tissue. Ingredients such as oxybenzone and avobenzone absorb into the skin membrane and then also absorb UVA and UVB a giant sinking sand pit! A sunscreen is a chemical absorber.


Here are the ingredients that are physical filters and chemical absorbers...

Why mineral sunscreens (sunblocks) are your BEST CHOICE for sun protection this summer

  1. They are physical filters not chemical absorbers
  1. They protect you against UVA and UVB radiation.
  1. They actually benefit skin health. Zinc oxide is a common ingredient in diaper rash creams, and commonly used to treat skin ailments such as rosacea.  
  2. They have very low toxicity ratings with the Environmental Working Group making them the safest ingredients for the skin and the environment. 

How does the SPF with zinc oxide lotions work?

  • Basically, the concentration of zinc oxide in the final solution will determine the level of SPF. 
  • The more zinc oxide you add, the thicker the lotion... the thicker the shield between the skin and the sun's radiation, which means a higher level of SPF.
  • You can make your own sunscreen using zinc oxide and a natural homemade lotion or come to a workshop

Are there any RISKS associated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide?

YES... Do not inhale zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as a raw ingredient. If you make this product at home please wear a mask.

  • If the zinc oxide or titanium oxide is already mixed into a lotion or cream you are not at risk of inhaling the ingredient. This is only is you are working with the raw ingredient. 
Unfortunately zinc oxide and titanium dioxide could build up (bioaccumulate) in the environment over time. If the entire human population switched to these products with their current rate of consumption we would likely experience new problems in the environment. 

Our best sunscreen is a mindset...

  • Avoid sunburns and extreme mid-day sun exposure by seeking shade and wearing light clothing
  • Do not use sunscreen to stay in the sun longer!
  • Then use Safe Summer Skin Cream when you need too!


 Like what you see? Check out our complete Safe Summer Skin Guide available for a free download!

The sun is about 4.6 billion years old...
Fossils suggest anatomically modern humans are about 200 000 years old...
And sunscreen? Younger than my Grandpa! (only 75 years young)
Sunscreen is just a baby in our evolutionary story but many people use it everyday in the summer.  We should take the time to learn about its history.

    Let me take you back to the beginning… It all began in the OUTBACK.


    Norman Paul, an Australian dermatologist wrote a book called “the influence of sunlight in the production of skin cancer” linking sun exposure to skin cancer

    He recommended Australian’s use sun protection such as veils, clothing, and zinc oxide. He also warned fair skinned Australian’s of reckless exposure to the sunlight.

    Unfortunately, Normal Paul was widely ignored in his lifetime. WHY?


    Have you ever heard of Coco Chanel? I would like everyone to raise a fist…and shake it.

    We shake our fists at Coco Chanel for being TOO DAMN SEXY and popularizing the tan in 1920.

    WELCOME TO THE DARK AGES. (Popularization of the tan 1920-present)


    Coco Chanel went to the south of France and got a burn… and her fans LOVED IT.

    STOP. Take a minute with me to understand how this trend shapes our relationship with sunscreen for the next 50 years...

    Remember this diagram from the previous post?

     REMEMBER: UVB = Burns  & UVA = Aging (Tan)

    During this era (a time when the tan was most desirable) it is important to understand the market is striving to make a product to promote a tan and protect against a burn.

    Therefore sunscreens during this time period were ONLY made to protect you from UVB radiation. 

    Check out this old advertisement from Coppertone...

    Triumphs of the Dark Ages

    1928. Chemical UVB absorbers hit the seen

    1936. L’Oreal releases the first commercial sunscreen.

    1946. Bikini is introduced

    1948. General Electric releases the first sun lamp for home use. “Get that golden summer tan look! GE tan lamp tans like sun”

    1950. Metal reflector released

    1953. Little Miss Coppertone Debuts.

    1978. Tanning Beds released

    An Anthropologists perspective: 

    Traditionally UVB radiation hits the top layer of our skin, as a result we burn and get out of the sun preventing us from further damage deeper into the tissue.

    Burning could be our evolutionary mechanism to reduce our level of UVA exposure.

     Sunscreen originally developed to prolong our sun exposure and reduce our ability to burn. We essentially created a product to remove our evolutionary mechanism telling us to GET OUT OF THE SUN. 



     After 40 years of cooking in the sun, skin cancer is on the rise. The FDA announces that over exposure to sun may lead to early aging and skin cancer. (A notion originally suggested by late Norman Paul)

    Now, there is a market push for a sunscreen product that protects for BOTH UVB and UVA radiation.

    The Era of Cancer and Concerned Parents. (1978-present) 

    1970. Teen cancer rate increasing by 2%/ year (USA)

    1972. The FDA made sunscreen an over the counter drug rather than a cosmetic cream. (Now regulated)

    1974. SPF (sun protecting factor) is accepted for labeling on sunscreen products

    1978. The first SPF 15 lotion is released into the market

    1980. Studies are showing that UVA radiation is also considered dangerous and could increase the risk of skin cancer.  

    1981. Coppertone announces the first UVA chemical absorber – oxybenzone (now the most widely used sunscreen ingredient in over 1500 brands)


    • People are concerned about their risk of skin cancer, and more importantly their children’s risk of skin cancer.
    • As a result the market is focusing on making products for convenience and western lifestyles.
    • There is now a wide variety of sunscreens available in the market. From waterproof, to aerosal, to SPF 100, to sport SPF, to daily moisturizers, to lip chaps, to bug repellents.



    • Sunscreen is a product that has been around for less than 100 years.
    • It originated as a mechanism to prolong sun exposure and reduce sunburns.
    • It evolved into a product to protect against UVA and UVB radiation. But many sunscreen ingredients such as oxybenzone are dangerous to human health. (Sunscreen continues to evolve to fit the perceived needs of its target market. It is a 400 billion dollar industry.)
    • We are sun worshippers, and although the rest of the world seems to follow the advice of Normal Paul (take shade, wear clothing, use zinc oxide), we follow the footsteps of the beautiful Coco Chanel.

       Stay tuned… next time we will dive into the Science of the ingredients.

      Sunscreen. I heard that sh**t was flammable

      But, if you don't use it you're at risk of getting skin cancer... 

      What a dilemma.

      Join me on a pseudo journey through a Seeds of Change Workshop on Sunscreen and Safe Summer Skincare


      Why do YOU use sunscreen?

      Is it to reduce your risk of skin cancer?

      Did You Know...

      Skin cancer rates are going up exponentially?

      Skin cancer is the most common cancer accounting for 1/3 new cases in Canada. It is predicted that 1/73 women and 1/59 men will deal with skin cancer in their lifetime.

      Three types of skin cancer

      1. basal cell carcinoma
      2. squamous cell carcinoma
      3. malignant melanoma.

      The first two, “the carcinomas” are less dangerous. They progress slowly, and are hopefully caught and surgically removed. 

      The melanoma (I like to think meanie) accounts for 5% of skin cancer cases. It is more serious and can be fatal.

      Skin cancer has been linked to SIX things...

      1. Family history
      2. Moles
      3. Freckles
      4. Sunburns (UVB radiation)
      5. UV radiation
      6. Tanning beds (UVA radiation)
        While the first three are related to genetics, the last three are related to human behaviour.


        Risk of skin cancer can be reduced by minimizing sunburns, UV damage, and avoiding tanning beds.
        You can use sunscreen to reduce your risk of sunburns and UV damage. 
        THEREFORE sunscreen CAN play an important role in reducing your risk of skin cancer. 


        UV Radiation. The A B C's.

        UV ABC's:

        • UVA radiation (longer wavelengths) is associated with aging and melanoma.

        • UVA radiation (longer wavelengths) is used in tanning beds. Using tanning beds before the age of 30 increases your risk of skin cancer by 75%. 

        • UVB radiation (shorter wavelengths) is associated with sunburns. It is also associated with basal and squamous cell carcinoma. (Skin cancer at the top skin tissue)

        • UVC radiation (not pictured) has the shortest wavelengths and does not reach the earths surface.

        What does "BROAD SPECTRUM" mean on a sunscreen bottle?

        It is a term used to imply UVA and UVB protection, however It is NOT regulated and is a form of marketing. 

        Unfortunately, there are no rainbows in your sunscreen. 

        What's in your sunscreen.

        Action steps:

        1. Go home and read your sunscreen bottle.
        2. See if they market "broad specturm" or if they specify UVA and UVB protection
        3. Compare the active ingredients with the chart above and check the toxicity rating, and the level of UV protection.