What’s the best sunscreen? We put more than 20 to the test

Last year, I put 16 mosquito repellents to the test, and found some definite winners — and some losers.

This year, I grabbed 21 sunscreens of various types and tested them. I have very fair skin (ghostlike, my family says) and burn easily. I tried the sunscreens while gardening, while going for a long hike in the middle of Austin in the heat of the day (don’t try this at home) and while swimming at the pool.

Know which sunscreens work best and what to look for in a sunscreen. AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN photos

I also rotated which area of the body each one covered to make sure that each sunscreen got an opportunity to be on both the upper body and lower body, except the ones that were made especially for the face. I tried ones that sprayed on, foamed on, slathered on and apply like deodorant. Some were all natural, some had chemicals by the dozen; some were sunblock rather than sunscreen. They had SPF (sun protection factor) of 21 to 100. Was there a difference?

The good news: All of them were better than nothing at all. The patches of skin left bare definitely reddened.

[cmg_anvato video=”4394829″ autoplay=”true”]

See how we rated them:


Badger Baby Chamomile & Calendula

Type: Very thick cream

Price: $11.48 with $2 off coupon

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 30

Ingredients: Zinc oxide, plus sunflower seed oil, beeswax, chamomile, calendula extract, seabuckthorn fruit extract. The tube says it is non-GMO, biodegradable, 98 percent organic, 100 percent certified natural.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 40 minutes

Scent: Light floral scent

Does it work? Yes. Badger baby was one of the best-performing. It was definitely water-resistant and sweat-proof. It was one of the few spots where there was no coloration of the skin, except the white residue left by the cream. The cream was a bit hard to spread because of its thickness. We could definitely tell where we put it. The scent was OK, but with all those floral ingredients, we expected it to smell better.

Would we use it again? Yes, especially on someone who is fair-skinned or a baby.

Banana Boat Simply Protect Baby

Type: Mineral-based lotion

Price: $7.92

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 50+

Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide. The tube says there are no oxybenzone or parabens, no added oils or fragrances, but there are plenty of glycerides and other chemicals listed in the inactive ingredients.

Water resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Light sunscreen scent.

Does it work? Yes. It was definitely sweat-proof and water-resistant, but it does not rub in or remove easily with soap and water. Days later, my back is still white from where this sunscreen is lingering. It also was not as thick as some sunscreens so it got everywhere, including my car seat.

Would we use it again? Maybe. The great thing is it really works, but with it getting everywhere and being hard to get out, we’re a bit hesitant.

Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple Whipped

Type: Mousse-like whipped sunscreen

Price: $9.97

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 50

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus various alcohols, acids and other chemicals. The bottle also says it is free of fragrances, parabens, oils, dyes and PABA.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Very light sunscreen smell

Does it work? It definitely let some reddening of the skin happen. It also was not sweat-proof at all, and we didn’t experience any water-resistance qualities.

Would we use it again? Probably not. We loved the concept of the whipped sunscreen, but it was incredibly hard to unlock the cap and press down on the top to squirt out the mousse. It also got all over clothes, but it did rub in better than some of the other baby lotion.



H-E-B Solutions Kids

Type: Lotion spray that sprays white for no missed spots

Price: $6.75

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 50

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus a lot of other chemicals as inactive ingredients. The bottle says it is hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Light sunscreen scent

Does it work? Not well. This spray was goopy and gross, which made it hard to spray on hard-to-reach areas. It got everywhere. It also did not protect from pigment changes. In fact, each time, the area where we used this spray was one of the most burned areas. It was definitely sweat-proof, but not as effective on water-resistance after a trip to the pool.

Would we use it again? A big no.

Alba Botanica Kids Sunscreen tropical fruit

Type: Cream

Price: $5.99 with $2 off coupon

SPF: Broad Spectrum SPF 45

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, octyl salicylate, plus natural oils and extracts, as well as oils. The tube also says it is tear-free, gluten-free, biodegradable, with no oxybenzone, octinoxate or animal testing, and with natural fragrances.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Very light scent, not fruity.

Does it work? There was definitely some color change, but not as bad as with others. It was easy to apply, rubbed in nicely and didn’t leave that white residue. It did fine with handling sweat. It wasn’t particularly water-resistent, but it also didn’t come off in the pool, either.

Would we use it again? Yes, because it was so easy to apply, but it’s not the most effective one we tried.


Banana Boat Sport sunscreen stick

Type: Sunscreen stick with Powerstay Technology

Price: $7.92

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 50+

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, plus some other chemicals and cocoa butter.

Water-resistant: Water and sweat up to 80 minutes

Scent: Very light.

Does it work? We did have some skin color change, but not a lot. It was some of the most water-resistant and sweat-resistant of the group. It was easy to use and didn’t feel tacky at all. In fact, you could hardly tell you had it on.

Would we use it again? For ease of use, yes, but we would go over the area a couple of times. Also, it’s unclear how much of the body you could cover before you would run out.

Neutrogena CoolDry Sport sunscreen stick

Type: Sunscreen Stick with Micromesh

Price: $9.97

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 50+

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, also some beeswax, plus parafin and chemicals.

Water-resistant: Water and sweat-resistance up to 80 minutes

Scent: Strong scent that’s nice, but might be overpowering on the whole body

Does it work? No. This area had some of the most color change. It did have some excellent water-resistance, but wasn’t particularly sweat-proof. It also was tacky to the touch and hard to see where it went on.

Would we use it again? No. We love the idea of a sunscreen stick for ease of use, but it didn’t work as well as the Banana Boat version.

No-Ad Suncare 30 Sport

Type: Sunscreen

Price: $6.97 with a $2 coupon

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 30

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, oxybenzone, plus some alcohol, glycerin and a lot less other inactive ingredients than most. It says it is paraben-free, fragrance-free and oil-free.

Water-resistant: Water and sweat-resistance up to 80 minutes.

Scent: It has a heavy sunscreen scent.

Does it work? Yes. We did not notice a color change any time we used it. It stayed on with sweat and water, though it wasn’t noticeably water-resistant.

Would we use it again? Maybe. It worked, but was cold when it went on and slightly greasy. The smell was like wearing a walking billboard for sunscreen.

Neutrogena CoolDry Sport sunscreen spray

Type: Spray

Price: $10.97

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 70

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus some other chemicals.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes, plus it says it “stays on through sweat”

Scent: It smells like a French perfume in a good way.

Does it work? We saw some color change. It was the easiest spray to use, though. When you do use it, get ready to jump. It’s really, really cold when it touches the skin. It also was a little greasy. We didn’t notice any particularly great water-resistance or sweat-resistance.

Would we use it again? Probably not. We wanted it to work better as a sunscreen. It was the easiest to use spray, though.

Goddess Garden Organics Sport

Type: Cream

Price: $12.98

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 30

Ingredients: Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, with some shea butter, coconut oil, safflower seed oil and sunflower oil. It calls itself a “natural sunscreen” with organic ingrediants, and says it has no chemical sunscreen.

Water-resistant: Yes, for 80 minutes.

Scent: I thought it was smelly; my husband thought it smelled good.

Does it work? Yes, there definitely was no skin color change with this sunscreen. It definitely had water-proofing and sweat-proofing abilities.

Would we use it again?Probably not. It was definitely one of the best sunscreens as far as efficacy, but it left a white residue and was smelly. It also never fully rubbed into the skin and left its mark on the seat of the car.

Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Ultra Light

Type: Cream lotion

Price: $7.92

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 30

Ingredients: Avobenzone, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus fruit and flower extracts, shea butter, mango seed butter, paraffin, alcohol and chemicals. It says it is oil-free and breathable, non-greasy and won’t clog pours.

Water-resistant: Water- and sweat-resistant for 80 minutes.

Scent: Smells nice, though sunscreeny.

Does it work? Somewhat. There was definitely a color change, but it wasn’t particularly bad. It definitely had water-resistance properties.

Would we use it again? Maybe. It was some of the nicest feeling of the creams and rubbed in well. It left the skin with a cool feeling and wasn’t sticky. It’s performance was a bit disappointing.

Regular adult sunscreen

H-E-B Solutions Sunscreen Ultra Protection

Type: Clear spray

Price: $8

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 100

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus some oils, flower extracts, and some chemicals.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Stinky sunscreen smell.

Does it work? No. Despite it being SPF 100, when we used it, the area had some of definite color change. This was also the only area where the burn actually hurt. It wasn’t particularly sweat-proof or water-resistant.

Would we use it again? No. It didn’t work, plus it was very oily and runny and hard to put on. It left the skin oily.

Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection

Type: Cream lotion

Price: $8.97

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 70

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus water, alcohol, and more chemicals. It says it is oil-free and PABA-free.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Nice, light scent.

Does it work? It worked better than some of the others, but there was still some color change. It wasn’t particularly water-resistant or sweat-proof. It felt good, but made the skin look oily.

Would we use it again? Yes, but there are better sunscreens out there.

SunBum premium moisturizing sunscreen spray

Type: Light-mist spray

Price: $15.99

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 50

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, plus a few other inactive ingredients including vitamin E-enriched. It says it is paraben-free, oil-free, PBA-free, hypoallergenic, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, oxybenzone-free, non-comedogenic and retinyl palmitate-free.

Water-resistant: Yes, to 80 minutes.

Scent: Smells like sunscreen.

Does it work? Yes, it provided some of the least amount of skin color change. It didn’t have particularly noticeable water-resistance, and it wasn’t sweat-proof. The mist made it difficult to see if it was covering, but the sticky residue left behind helped us figure that out.

Would we use it again? Yes, but the price was a bit prohibitive. Also we could have done without the stickiness.

Hawaiian Tropic Anti-oxidant sunscreen lotion

Type: Moisturizing lotion

Price: $7.92

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 30

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene and some alcohol and oils, flower and fruit extracts, plus green tea extract. It promises to help prevent skin damage and skin aging from the sun.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Nice fruity, floral, coconut scent.

Does it work? Yes, we didn’t see much color change. It out-performed some of higher SPF sunscreens.

Would we use it again? Yes, it rubbed in well, wasn’t greasy, smelled great, and left a nice cool feeling.

SunBum premium moisturizing sunscreen lotion

Type: Moisturizing lotion

Price: $14.99

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 30

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, plus a few other inactive ingredients including vitamin E-enriched. It says it is paraben-free, oil-free, PBA-free, hypoallergenic, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, oxybenzone-free, non-comedogenic and retinyl palmitate-free.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Nice light coconut scent

Does it work? There was a noticeable color change. It wasn’t particularly water-resistant or sweat-proof.

Would we use it again? No. It was very watery, yet it didn’t rub in very well and went everywhere. It left a glistening residue.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost water gel lotion sunscreen

Type: Water gel lotion

Price: $10.97

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 50

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus water, glycerin, alcohol, and more.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes

Scent: Light, delightful floral scent.

Does it work? Yes, there was some color change, but not a lot. It had definite water-resistance.

Would we use it again? Yes, but note that it is blue in color, which is a bit odd, and it says it’s not greasy, but we found it to be a bit greasy. It was easy to spread and rub in.

Aveeno Active Naturals Protect + Hydrate lotion sunscreen

Type: Lotion

Price: $9.97

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 70

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus water, glycerin, alcohol, beeswax, oat kernel flour and extract and oat protein.

Water-resistant: Sweat- and water-resistant up to 80 minutes

Scent: Nice floral scent.

Does it work? Not really. For SPF 70, we would have expected less color change. It also wasn’t particularly water-resistant or sweat-resistant.

Would we use it again? No. It was hard to spread around and didn’t rub in.

Bullfrog Mosquito Coast Sunscreen + Insect Repellent

Type: Spray with insect repellent for up to eight hours without bites

Price: $6.48 with $2 coupon

SPF: SPF 30, the only one that didn’t say “broad spectrum”

Ingredients: Octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone for sunscreen; butyl, acetylamino propionic acid ethyl ester for repellent; plus aloe and vitamin E.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes.

Scent: Very chemically smelling.

Does it work? No, each time we used it, we saw noticeable skin color change.

Would we use it again? No, not only did it not work, but it was smelly, oily and left the the skin at first tingly and then itchy. It also was not sweat-proof at all.


Neutrogena Clear Face Break-out free liquid lotion sunscreen

Type: Liquid lotion for the face

Price: $8.97

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 30

Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, plus water, silica, bark extract and more.

Water-resistant: Yes, up to 80 minutes.

Scent: Neutral smell.

Does it work? Not really. This area of the face was the most burned area of the body. It also was very liquidy and left the skin feeling really tight.

Would we use it again? Nope. It didn’t do the job, plus pimples followed.

CoverGirl CG Smoothers BB Cream

Type: Tinted moisturizer and sunscreen

Price: $7.09

SPF: Broad spectrum SPF 21

Ingredients: Octinoxate and zinc oxide

Water-resistant: No

Scent: None.

Does it work? Not really. We still had reddening of the skin. We also sweated right through it.

Would we use it again? Yes, as a foundation; no as the only sunscreen.

Take aways

  • You can’t judge a sunscreen by the SPF number. One of the worst was SPF 100. Some of the best was SPF 30.
  • The sprays were less effective then the creams that you spread on or the sticks that you press on.
  • It’s true that those with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are considered sunblocks rather than sunscreens, worked the best. You just have to be willing to put up with white tinting of the skin and that it doesn’t always rub in.
  • Just because it says water-resistant and sweat-resistant doesn’t mean that’s true.
  • Even the most “natural” sunscreens have some unpronounceable ingredients on the back.
  • There are really only about seven different sunscreen active ingredients. It’s about how they are stabilized and how they are delivered to your body.
  • Any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen.

Sunscreen tips

  • Sun damage is cumulative, and it matters how many burns you had as a child and young adult when it comes to skin cancer later in life.
  • A tan is sun damage.
  • You need sunscreen every day, especially on your face, neck and upper chest, which are regularly exposed.
  • Try to avoid going out in the heat of the day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Even if it’s a cloudy day, you can get burned. The clouds only block about 20 percent of the sun’s UV rays.
  • Apply sunscreen on 30 minutes before you go outside.
  • Most sunscreen should not be applied to wet skin unless the label says it can be.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • If you’re in water, reapply sunscreen every 40 minutes to an hour even if it says “water-resistant.”
  • Most people don’t use enough sunscreen. You need an ounce of sunscreen each time or about a shot-glass full.
  • Spread sunscreen in a thick layer. If you are using a spray, you need to rub it in. You might need to spray an area three times and rub it in three times to get it thick enough.
  • Choose a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum,” which indicates that it will protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • SPF stands for sun protection factor. SPF measures the protection against UVB rays. It does not measure protection against UVA rays.
  • Choose the right SPF. An SPF of 30 means its 30 times more sun protection factor than nothing. You want an SPF of 30 or above.
  • New research actually indicates that the higher the SPF the better, which means there’s now a case for an SPF of 70 or 100. Previously, scientist thought there wasn’t much of a difference after SPF 50.
  • The fairer your skin, the more SPF you want to choose.
  • Sunscreen in makeup is not enough SPF, plus you don’t re-apply it every two hours to adequately protect.
  • A layer of sun-protective clothing will be better than sunscreen for protection. You can buy clothing with SPF factor built into the fabric or you can actually wash it in the washing machine with RIT Dye SunGuard to give it an SPF factor of 30.
  • There’s a difference between sunblock and sunscreen. Sunblock will have zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in it. It prevents the UV rays from penetrating into the skin. Sunscreen doesn’t block the UV rays, but it changes them once they hit the skin to make the rays not as harmful.
  • Children younger than 6 months can use a sunblock made for babies, but check with your pediatrician first. Keeping babies that young out of the sun and covered will be a better option than the sunblock.
  • There are slight differences in the formulas of regular sunscreen and sunscreen for children. In general, the one for children is made for delicate skin. The formula for babies should be a sunblock, but not always, so read the ingredients label first.
  • If you see a change in your skin or a mole or birthmark, see a doctor.
  • One in 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70.
  • More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined.

RELATED: More sunscreen tips

Sources: Dermatologists Dr. Ted Lain, Sanova Dermatology; Dr. Samantha Hill, formerly of Specially for Children and Dell Children’s Medical Center; and Dr. Lakshmi Atkuri, Scott & White Clinic — Round Rock; and Patricia Agin, formerly Coppertone’s scientific affairs leader at its Solar Research Center, and skincancer.org.


CDC’s new autism numbers show increase, but there’s more to that

New estimates of the prevalence of autism from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are out. Now 1 in 59 8-year-olds are on the autism spectrum. Previously, the number was 1 in 68 in 2016.

The numbers come from the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network – which looks at health and education records of about 300,000 kids.

RELATED: Mom shares the less-than-pretty truth about raising a child with autism

Maddox Pipkin, 4, and his mother Vanessa Pipkin sit in their seats on an American Airlines plane during the Wings for All event. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman 2016

One of the reasons the numbers might have gone up, according to the CDC, is better tracking of children who are minorities — specifically Hispanic and black. The numbers come from 11 communities in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin. They represent about 8 percent of 8-year-old children in the United States.

Autism also now has many different types of people under its big umbrella. In 2013 when the American Psychiatric Association delivered its new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, what it calls DSM-5, it changed the way some kids with autism were labeled. It created a spectrum of disorders and did away with labeling high functioning people as having Asperger’s syndrome and brought more people under the autism label.

RELATED: How a child with autism found an education beyond special education

RELATED: How a teen with autism found a way to communicate through music and poetry

Austin researcher Laurence Becker has been studying  these savants. In May he’ll be premiering a documentary on seven savant artists. “Fierce Love and Art” will premiere at 7 p.m. May 12 at a theater that is still being finalized. Tickets are $10 a person, $25 for a family. Go to fierceloveparents.com for more information.

The  CDC says more needs to be done to identify kids with autism earlier in their lives so that therapy can begin sooner.

It gives these facts:

  • Fewer than half of the children identified in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network received their first autism diagnosis by the time they were 4 years old.
  • Although 85 percent of children with autism had concerns about their development noted in their health records by the time they were 3 years old, only 42 percent received a developmental evaluation by that age.
  • This lag between first concern and first evaluation may affect when children with autism can begin getting the services they need.

Read more about how to tell if your child might be showing signs with these two stories:

Is your child on track? The CDC develops an app

Does your child need Early Childhood Intervention program?

And, if you haven’t heard about Julia, the “Sesame Street” puppet with autism, learn more here:

“Sesame Street” continues autism awareness episodes

Dylan Flint, 7, and Liesa Randel get their boarding passes for the Wings for All flight. Wings for All event at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport allowed families with children with autism to practice going through security and boarding a plane.  Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman 2016

Summer is coming up and that means travel. Read these stories below:

14 tips to traveling with a child with autism

Wings for All helps kids with autism board a plane


Two events for moms (and dads) this week

New parents and parents-to-be will want to attend the Mother of All Baby Showers. It’s happening 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Dell Diamond (VIP ticket holders get to come in 30 minutes early). It’s billed as a one-stop shop for information and products.

“I am proud to be partnering with Austlen, Doona, Shipt, Nuna, Baby K’tan, Rising Stars Dentistry and Orthodontics and many other companies of all shapes and sizes,” said Amy Lundy, creator of The Mother of All Baby Showers, in a press release. “Our event provides something for everyone whether you’re planning for a pregnancy, have a baby or getting ready to send your child to preschool.”

Expect to find giveaways, minispa treatments and swag bags. Tickets are $9 and include a seat at the ballgame. The VIP tickets for $70 include a Cribette playard, a 20 percent discount to one of the retailers stores and a swag bag.

If you bring an unopened package of diapers for the Austin Diaper Bank, you get a free general admission ticket. Register at  bit.ly/MOABSaustin.

Love Child is hosting a popup shop with 30 vendors Sunday. Love Child

Love Child, the Austin-based online magazine for moms, is hosting a Mini Market, Goods for Moms and Their Minis, 30-vendor popup shop 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the South Congress Hotel. It’s free to attend and the first 20 attendees get a free goody bag. Find the invite here.

Here’s a list of the vendors:

Dads, (and moms, too) learn to do your daughter’s hair with these easy steps

Oh, dads, we feel your pain. It’s time to get your daughter ready for school, her hair is a hot mess, and you’re not sure what to do with it. Even the ponytail, which seems simple, just isn’t.

Jessica Tellez pulls Ashlynn Bradley’s hair into a ponytail at Urban Betty Salon. Deborah Cannon/For American-Statesman photos

Urban Betty Salon hair stylist Jessica Tellez is teaching a daddy/daughter hair styling class. She’s starting what she calls the 101 class: that’s ponytails and buns. Pigtails and braids are more complicated, and she’ll save those for the 2.0 class. Here are the basics on creating ponytails and buns.

[cmg_anvato video=”4368095″]

Basic ponytail

1. Spray a detangler such as Bumble and Bumble Prep Primer on the hair.

2. Use a Wet Brush, which can be used on wet hair or dry hair, to brush out thehair. The Wet Brush is made to not hurt.

3. Start at the bottom of the hair and brush to the end, then go higher up the hair and brush to the end. Take it at a section at a time until everything is detangled.

4. Pull the hair into a ponytail by combing underneath, then supporting the bottom. Brush the top of the hair while holding the bottom in a ponytail to smooth out the top.

5. Hold the hair with one hand. With the other hand, use two fingers to spread the ponytail holder.

6. Hold the ponytail holder over the ponytail and grab the ponytail with that hand. With the other hand, pull the ponytail holder over the ponytail to its bottom side and pull the ponytail through. Continue to keep a tight grip on the hair with the top hand.

7. Twist the holder and pull the hair through again and again. Be sure to hold the ponytail with the other hand until the hair is secured by the holder.

8. If you mess up, remove the holder, brush the bottom of the ponytail, the sides and then the top again, and repeat steps 5-7.

ALSO IN PARENTING: Wendy Mogel wants to teach you how to talk to your kids

[cmg_anvato video=”4367726″]

Basic high ponytail on ethnic hair

1. Spray a detangler, conditioner such as Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil Primer, on the hair.

2. Comb out the hair.

3. Use only the side of the Wet Brush to move the hair into place and move the primer through the hair. Brush underneath and the sides and then the top.

4. Move the hair into a ponytail, holding the base of the hair. The hair will naturally stay where you have placed it, but it’s still a good idea to hold onto the ponytail you are forming with one hand.

Stylist Jessica Tellez pulls Josephine Pitts’s hair into a top ponytail at Urban Betty Salon on Friday, March 23, 2018. Deborah Cannon /For AMERICAN-STATESMAN

5. With the other hand, use two fingers to spread the ponytail holder.

6. Hold the ponytail holder over the ponytail and grab the ponytail with that hand. With the other hand, pull the ponytail holder top piece over the ponytail to its bottom and pull the ponytail through. Continue to keep a tight grip on the hair.

7. Twist the holder and pull the hair through again and again. Be sure to hold the ponytail with the other hand until the hair is secured by the holder.

Josephine Pitts shows off her top ponytail at Urban Betty Salon on Friday, March 23, 2018. Deborah Cannon /For AMERICAN-STATESMAN

[cmg_anvato video=”4367730″]


1. Create a ponytail using the steps above.

2. Secure it with a holder.

3. Add more primer to the hair to give you more grip.

4. Twist the hair by holding the ponytail at the end and turning it hand over hand until it is all twisted throughout.

5. Twist the hair around itself like a coiled snake against the head.

6. Lock it into place by using bobby pins. Grab the side of a coil at the top and stick it into the hair. Grab another pin and go through the side until they lock in place.

7. Continue to alternate pins in a crisscross shape until you feel the bun is secure.


Brush hair every night and have your daughter sing “Happy Birthday” three times while doing it to make sure you are doing it enough.

Use shampoo only at the scalp. Use conditioner at the ends. Make sure all of it gets rinsed out.

When brushing, start with the bottom layer of the hair. Put the top layers in a clip on the top of the head to get them out of the way. Once you get the first layer, add another layer, brush it out, then another, until all the hair is smooth.

Daddy/Daughter Hair Class

When: 10 a.m. April 21

Where: Urban Betty Salon, 1206 W. 38th St., Suite 1107

Tickets: $75, technically sold out but contact the salon if you’re interested in a future class

Information: urbanbetty.com, 512-371-7663


Watch some super spellers, celebrate art and more fun weekend events for families in Austin, March 23-25

It should be a beautiful weekend for going out and stirring up some family fun. Expect highs in the low 80s and clear skies, except Sunday, when it might rain in the morning.

Spellers Nihar Saireddy Janga, left, of Austinm Jairam Jagadeesh Hathwar, right, of Painted Post, New York hold a trophy after the finals of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Austin Regional Spelling Bee. Watch 47 students in fourth through eighth grades compete to move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. $10.1 p.m. Sunday. Zach Theatre’s Topfer Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd. austinspellingbee.com

Blanton Museum of Art. Block Party. Many activities including kids art-making. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Free. Blanton Museum of Art. 200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. blantonmuseum.org

Dance Through India. Celebrate different dances. 2-4 p.m. Sunday. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road. austintexas.gov/aarc

Rodeo Austin. Watch the pigs race, the bull riders, barrel racers and more. $5-$8 fairgrounds admission, $20-$36 rodeo seats. Through Saturday. Expo Center, 9100 Decker Lake Road.

Sherwood Forest Faire. Travel back in time to merry ol’ England with this fair. 10 a.m. to dusk, Sunday and Saturday. $12-$22. 1883 Old U.S. 20, McDade. sherwoodforestfaire.com

Easter Bunny photos. Noon-6 p.m. Various times through March 31. Hill Country Galleria Central Plaza. Free, but photos available for purchase; hillcountrygalleria.com. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Barton Creek Square; simon.com/barton-creek-square. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Lakeline Mall, simon.com/mall/lakeline-mall.

March for Our Lives Austin. Noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second St. marchforourlives.com

Teen Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt. Who says Easter egg hunts are just for kids? 6:30 p.m. Friday. Dottie Jordan Recreation Center, 2803 Loyola Lane. austintexas.gov

Safe Baby Academy. Learn how to care for your baby. 9 a.m. Friday, CommUnity Care Clinic, 2901 Montopolis Drive (in Spanish). 9 a.m. Saturday, CommUnity Care Clinic, 2901 Montopolis Drive.

Toybrary Austin. Family Concert and Picnic with Much 2 Much: 6 p.m. Saturday. Free. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane. toybraryaustin.com

Zach Theatre presents “Goodnight Moon.” The classic children’s book comes to the stage. 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $18-$24. Kleberg Stage, 1421 Riverside Drive. zachtheatre.org

“Hurry Up and Wait” from Pollyanna Theatre.

Pollyanna Theatre presents “Hurry Up and Wait.” Wendy and Harry plant a garden and must learn patience. For ages 2-4. $6.75. 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. thelongcenter.org

BookPeople events: Carolyn Cohagan reads “Time Next”: 2 p.m. Saturday. Armstrong Community Music School: Tuesday. Tiny Tails Petting Zoo: Wednesday. We Love Numbers: Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

Barnes & Noble 11 a.m. Saturday story times at all locations: “Little Blue Truck.”

“Anasi and the Golden Box of Stories.” For ages 5 and older. 2 p.m. Saturday, Old Quarry Branch.

Express Yourself Through Media and Technology. 1 p.m. Saturday, Ruiz Branch. 10:30 a.m. Saturday, St. John Branch.

Bow Wow Reading With Bonnie the Dog: 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Yarborough Branch.

Fix-It Clinic. Learn how to fix your broken stuff. Noon Saturday, Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Mayor’s Bookclub. “Exit West.” 1 p.m. Saturday, Manchaca Road Branch.

Thinkery. Namaste and Play: Sense-ational: 9:45 a.m. (2-year-olds), 10:45 a.m. (3-year-olds), Fridays. $20 a class, $140 for the series. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers: Light It Up. Learn about light. 9 a.m. Saturdays. For birth to age 3. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org

Take Apart Art: Ages 4 and up. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave. thinkeryaustin.org





A new feminism: Author Elle Luna wants women (and men, too) to find their power to tell their story at SXSW

Artist, author Elle Luna is trying to create feminine power one woman at a time with her new book “Your Story Is Your Power: Free Your Feminine Voice,” (Workman Publishing, $17.95), which she co-authored with author and psychotherapist Susie Herrick.

The book takes women through three different parts of their world that might be holding them back. The first is the water they are swimming in: All those messages, those advertisements, those rap lyrics, those movies, that tell women that they are less than men. The second is their family story that might inform how they view the roles of women and men. The third is their own personality and how the nine Enneagram personality types might be leading women to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Susie Herrick, left, and Elle Luna have written “Your Story Is Your Power.”

Luna will talk about the book and lead participants through a conversation about how we think about women in her talk named after the book at 9:30 a.m. Monday, room 10AB at the Austin Convention Center.

Luna was approached by her editor to write the book, which came out last week, in response to the 2016 election and the 2017 Women’s March. Women have continued to speak out in the ensuing months. “It is exciting,” she says. “Emma (González) in Florida standing on the front steps saying, ‘ENOUGH!’ … and Tarana Burke and the Me Too movement … She recognized that women need a safe place to share stories of sexual abuse and harassment.”

Luna, 36, whose previous book was “The Crossroads of Should and Must,” was given nine months to put together the book, which included 450 paintings. She brought in Herrick, who is the author of “Aphrodite Emerges,” and who has been studying feminism and misogyny.

“We’ve really been looking at the stories we tell ourselves,” Luna says. She benefited, personally, from Herrick’s wisdom that comes from being about two decades older than her.  “We were both stuck in similar ways in our lives at different times,” Luna says. “She had been down this path.”

Luna, who grew up in Dallas, has a bachelor’s degree in English and art history from Vanderbilt University and a master’s of fine art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She spent her early career doing design for tech startups in Silicon Valley before she rented out a warehouse in 2013 and began painting again. In addition to being an author, Luna organizes #The100DayProject, which invites people to do something creative for 100 days and post it beginning April 3. About a million people in 65 countries have done so — everything from art work to embroidery to vegan cooking.

Luna definitely taps into her artwork for this book. It mixes words with artwork and painted words of quotes from famous people. Luna was inspired by Instagram and the way that people scan for information and are drawn to images. She sees it as a book that appeals 50 percent to the left side of the brain and 50 percent to the right side. It’s one that can be scanned, then glanced at, then read, then delved into more deeply depending on what you are ready to get out of it.

It’s for teenage girls and mature women, too.

The book uses the symbol of a labyrinth for discovering your power — which Luna and Herrick think of as electricity rather than strength or dominance over another person.

The labyrinth has two parts, the spiral and the meandering. The spiral represents going inside of yourself deeper and deeper and then coming back out. The meandering is the process of discovering. It’s very rarely a straight line.

“This book is how do we create that safe space internally where we can get really close to the water we are all swimming in and begin to wake up and flip on the light.”

For Luna, it’s the idea of when you find your power and work on the internal, then you can work on the external.

“In my own experience, when I stopped taking it internally, like hell was I going to take it externally.”

Working on the internal, that’s what helps women speak up. “That is what changes everything,” she says.

It’s figuring out why you get stuck in the ways you get stuck. She likens it to bowling and the book is the bumpers that help you avoid rolling a gutter ball. It helps you see where you want to go and helps you get there rather than making the same mistakes over and over again and winding up in the gutter again.

For Luna, it was about working on the voice in her head and how she talked to herself. Now she tells herself: “You need to say something nice to me, be my advocate.”

Sometimes the labyrinth can feel like taking two steps forward and 20 steps back, she says. “I’m still in the labyrinth.”

“Your Story Is Your Power” looks at the messages we are telling our girls and our boys. It looks at the fairy tales of Cinderella, Snow White and Beauty & the Beast. “What are we really telling girls, that they have to be beautiful housekeepers, slender and demure, get the prince and become the queen?”

While the book focuses on the messages girls receive, Luna also recognizes that boys are also receiving messages, too. One friend told her about being taunted as a 10-year-old when he recognized the beauty of a sunset and pointed it out to two friends. The response was “Who are you, a girl?” “Girl” was a derogatory term.

The men who have showed up at events for the book have expressed sadness for what they recognize the women in their lives have gone through, she says. Luna recalls one man who was from Israel and told a story about being in a synagogue where only the men could turn the Torah scroll’s rollers. When a friend’s daughter ran forward to try to touch the Torah, she was yelled at. He told the story with tears in his eyes because he knew the message that that girl had received.

For women, Luna wants them to work on the internal, but also help lift up fellow women. Right now her goal is to get more women to vote by helping to make sure their friends are registered, by helping to take people to the polls to vote.

“How do we stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough’? Now we’re not going to be quiet and be cute. We’re going to rock the boat until we right the ship.”

“Your Story Is Your Power: Free Your Feminine Voice”

9:30 a.m. Monday

Austin Convention Center 10AB


Austinite creates alphabet book of all things uniquely Austin

“A is for Austin, our local home base. It’s the beautiful setting where this story takes place.”

So begins Lori Otto Samocha’s love letter to her hometown. In “W Is for Weird: An Austin Alphabet,” Otto Samocha writes of the things that make Austin unique. “I always felt, as all Austinites do, that there’s something special and unique about the city,” she says. “There’s a sense of charm, a sense of honesty.”

Her love of Austin is strong. The advertising writer has never left home. She went to Westwood High School, then to the University of Texas for undergraduate and masters degrees. After living around Austin, she moved back to the northwest Austin neighborhood where she grew up.

While she doesn’t have children, some of her friends do. She wanted the book to be a primer for the next generation of Austinites, living here or living elsewhere, but with Austin roots. “There’s a lot of Texas books out there, but Austin isn’t Texas,” she says.

In colorful puffy letters with illustrations by Lauri Johnston of what that each letter represents, the book tells what makes Austin, Austin. The first three letters were easy: A is for Austin, B is for Bats, C is for Capitol. Other ones were more tricky. She did her research, both by asking friends and by researching the history of Austin. That’s how V became for Violet Crown, the nickname that notes Austin’s purple-hued sunsets.

Sometimes she had to get creative: X became for Crossroads at SXSW. Y is for Y’all.

Lori Otto Samocha, left, and Lauri Johnston

It took her about a month to figure out what each letter was, but three years to turn the ideas into a self-published book. “We both have day jobs,” she says of herself and Johnston. “This was our passion project.”

She hopes families will use it as a guidebook to go explore the city. She also hopes schools will use it as well for the basis of a fieldtrip curriculum, maybe even develop a passport to the city to check off all the things they see that are also in the book.

She would love to do a second version of the book with all the words she couldn’t get in — especially Mount Bonnell. M for Music and B for bats were already taken.

But first, she’s reading the book on Saturday at BookPeople during story time and Johnston is leading an art activity for kids to create their own Austin letter.

“W Is for Weird: An Austin Alphabet”

By Lori Otto Samocha

$21.65, Honest Acron Press

Lori Otto Samocha reads “W Is for Weird,” 10:30 a.m. Saturday story time. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. bookpeople.com

New CDC figures for Zika-related defects in babies in the U.S.

Remember the Zika outbreak of 2016? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some statistics about the number of babies with Zika-related birth defects that year in the 15 states that had local outbreaks, including areas of Texas.

Maria da Luz Mendes Santos holds her daughter, Heloyse, who was born with microcephaly. Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times

Here’s what it found:

  • 3 out of every 1,000 babies born in those areas had a birth defect possibly associated to Zika in their mother
  • Half of those had brain abnormalities or microcephaly
  • 20 percent had neural tube defects or other early brain abnormalities
  • 9 percent had eye abnormalities without a brain abnormality
  • 22 percent had nervous system damage including joint problems and deafness

But here’s the weird thing: Most of the babies born with Zika-related illnesses were born to mothers who didn’t test positive for Zika, either because they were not tested, were not tested at the right time or had no evidence of the disease in their bodies.

The CDC is expected the numbers to rise as data is collected on babies born in 2017.


New technology allow doctors to treat and reverse a stroke more than six hours after it happened

You might have heard that once a stroke happened, if you didn’t get to the hospital and seek treatment within six hours, the damage was done. It is true that the sooner you get to the hospital, the better, but new studies and new technology are allowing doctors to treat the stroke 16 to 24 hours after it happens.

Advanced brain imaging using a RAPID CT Perfusion scan can see where the blood flow is being blocked and how much blockage there is. If it shows that the affected area of the brain is getting some blood flow, just not enough blood, “that’s a brain you can save,” says Dr. James Waldron, a neurosurgeon and medical director for endovascular neurosurgery at St. David’s Medical Center.

Then doctors can do a mechanical thrombectomy, which means they go in through the groin and thread a stint retriever to the area of the clot and retrieve the clot. Doctors are then able to reopen the area that was closed off or limited. This lessens the damage the stroke has caused or sometimes even reverses it.

“We get some miracle patients,” Waldron says, those that couldn’t speak or couldn’t walk who then afterwards are able to walk out of the hospital. Most, though, are able to do some physical and occupational therapy to improve their condition.

RELATED: Austin Speech Labs helps people find their words after stroke

One study found that by doing the scan and then the thrombectomy, 45 percent of the patients were able to go home, instead of 17 percent. They might still have some deficit left from the stroke, but they are able to take care of themselves.

The thrombectomy isn’t for every case. Sometimes the damage is irreversible. “My goal is to keep people alive, but if they need a feeding tube, if they can’t meaningfully interact with family, they would say they wouldn’t want that.”

This new technology, though, is only good if patients recognize the signs of stroke and if the medical professionals treating them know to send them to a hospital with the imaging technology.

The sign of stroke are FAST:

Face — ask them to smile and see if one side droops

Arms– ask them to lift both arms up and see if one floats down

Speech — ask them to say a simple phrase and see if it is slurred or strange

Time — call 9-1-1 and take them to a hospital with a stroke center

While many of the people Waldron sees are older, he is seeing some younger patients. Many of them have diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, smoke or have another pre-existing condition that puts them at risk.

RELATED: Is there a link between Alzheimer’s, strokes and diet soda?

RELATED: Is there a link between pregnancy and stroke? Yes, says new study




Does ibuprofen cause infertility in men?

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States seems to indicate that taking ibuprofen will lower the amount of testosterone a man produces. That might be true, but then people have taken  it one step farther to say that the decrease in testosterone leads to infertility.

Dr. Lisa Hansard of Texas Fertility Center says making that assumption “is a big stretch.” What the study needed to look at to determine fertility levels is sperm count.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

What the ibuprofen did is lower the luteinizing hormone level in these men. LH sparks testosterone production, but often when one level is low, the body will compensate by raising another hormone level, Hansard says.

“It’s really reaching,” she says. “The vast majority of men who have fertility issues don’t take ibuprofen and the vast majority of men that take ibuprofen don’t have fertility issues.”

Too much testosterone can be a bad thing. Often men will come to Hansard with infertility issues thinking that if they take supplements to boost their testosterone levels, that will solve the problem. In fact, some of those supplements might be causing the problem.

Male factor infertility — that’s infertility that is related to sperm — is the most common cause of infertility in couples, making up about 20 to 25 percent of infertility problems.  Other causes can be structural issues in women, endometriosis, female hormone issues or unexplained causes.

Most studies have focused on female infertility. More needs to be done to understand male infertility, Hansard says.

When a couple comes to her, she looks at both people if the cause isn’t already known. If it is male factor infertility, then it’s about working with the sperm he does have by doing things like artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization.

This isn’t the first time that ibuprofen and reproduction has been called into question. A study in rats showed that ibuprofen use in moms may have caused their male babies to not have testicles that descended. That study, though, hasn’t been replicated in humans.

“It’s really premature to try to connect those dots,” Hansard says.

What we do know about ibuprofen and fetuses is that it can cause a part of the heart to close up early, causing damage or even death.

Tylenol has recently been called into question as well during pregnancy because of a possible link between it and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.