Archive | safe sunscreen

2011 Organic Sunscreen List From EWG

It’s out!  It’s a list that I look forward to every year – the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group’s) top sunscreen ratings for 2011. To be listed as one of the 128 best beach and sport sunscreens, the product must contain broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays and have fewer hazardous chemicals that can be absorbed into your body via the skin.  Click here to view these top sunscreens.

A frontrunner in organic sunscreen protection for 2011 has emerged this summer and because it’s Canadian manufactured (yes!!) Green Beaver sunscreen is my first feature for sunscreen articles.  This is a company that has listened to parents and is doing organic sunscreen right!  Here is the list of why this sunscreen is your must have for the months ahead:

~ The Green Beaver Company Certified Organic Kids Non-whitening Sunscreen SPF 30 has a rating score of 1 from EWG. This is an excellent score for ingredients and UVA/B protection.

~ Sunscreen manufactured in Canada (I’m mentioning this again because I love this and it’s important). Help support Canadian made personal care products with buying Green Beaver.

~ Listened to parents that find the white coating from most organic sunscreens and have added a non-whitening component to the sunscreen.

~ Green Beaver is chemical free and fragrance-free sunscreen making this an excellent product for children/adults with sensitive skin or eczema.

~ The manufacturing of the sunscreen includes non-nano based technology.

~  Just a cool tip – Green Beaver sunscreens contain Canadian grown anti-oxidant raspberry extract.

I always shop for my sunscreen at Nayla Natural Care each Spring. I think it’s important to give back my consumer dollars to a store that has blazed the way with providing education and safe products for the last few years. Nayla Natural Care has recently been recommended as a place to shop when buying safe products for your family by Author Gillian Deacon of ‘There’s Lead In Your Lipstick’. Store owner Gwen has always worked hard to provide safe and truly non-toxic options, not just following consumer trends.  There is more that goes into sourcing safe personal care products so I like to support companies that research and educate consumers. And by bringing Green Beaver into her store this Spring, Nayla has continued to provide trust based customer service to her customers.

Here is the packaging you’re looking for with Green Beaver and both formulas are the same (adult or child) and we’ve learned that 30+ is the highest SPF factor we need to purchase for safe sunscreen. It is actually being regulated that sunscreens don’t brand their products higher than 30 in coming years…funny enough I’ve seen a toxic sunscreen a few years back marketed to babies and the SPF was 90.  It’s getting easier parents – the work has been done!  Mineral based sunscreens are the safe products for your entire family for sun care this summer. Green Beaver’s only active ingredient is zinc which is great because it blocks UV rays at the skin,  before it penetrates the skin. Looking to stock up on sunscreen?  Reward two Canadian companies for excellence by one-stop shopping for Green Beaver at Nayla Natural Care.  Green Beaver is pending FDA approval in the USA, so only Canadian addresses can order this sunscreen.  So for now, Canadians can be proud with Green Beaver and US residents can remain proud to purchase California Baby (has rated excellent for another year with EWG) which is not available in Canada.  We both have our ‘go to’ products to keep us safe and chemical free this summer. Here’s the packaging your looking for (note: the adult and child formulas are the same so feel free to load up on the kid’s sunscreen and use for yourself too. I never buy separate sunscreens for myself and the kids…we also use the child friendly packaging on the entire family).

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Starting With The Bathroom ~ It’s Time To Chemical DeTox!

I’m taking a question from the audience with this article because the timing is perfect!  Angie emailed asking where a mom that has no idea how to become eco-friendly should start?  With the number of new parents finding Mommy Footprint I’m going to answer this question room-by-room starting with the bathroom for several reasons  1) more than two years after writing the article ‘Phthalates  Are Making Big News in US‘…today Canada announces they will be eliminating the same class of 6 phthalates in our country 2) I find phthalates to be very scary as they continue to lurk in every corner of a traditional bathroom because they haven’t had the media spotlight our friend ‘BPA’ has been hogging for three years 3) I’m excited to point you to an awesome online store called Saffron Rouge that is making this change easy and affordable by carrying the largest selection of organic brands (that I love) online. Even savvy organics consumers should be thrilled to discover this store because you can request free samples and can ask questions through online chat!

Okay so first – why should a person detox their bathroom?  Once you understand that becoming more eco-friendly in the bathroom isn’t just about helping our environment by not washing chemicals down the drain, but more about not letting chemicals soak into your body…it’s much easier to not want to purchase that container of shampoo for $.99 at Walmart.  Or – and I cringe typing it – the Johnson’s & Johnson’s crap for the next baby shower you attend. The movement behind removing chemicals that surround your most intimate place of refuge (the bathroom) is not about ripping off consumers – it’s about trying to help them flush the phthalates (chemical from these products) out of your body.  Are you trying to get pregnant?  Are you pregnant?  Do you have young children?  You are the consumers being targeted with detoxing your lives…but how I see it…you are the perfect candidates for this action!  I still haven’t answered poor Angie’s question and if she’s new to Mommy Footprint…she might not be used to my rambling.  Here I go Angie…

Want to start a household detox of chemicals?  I would recommend starting in the bathroom. It will be the most affordable room to start in because you will streamline what beauty products you’re using and replace with less, while purchasing quality, organic items. Never throw traditional bathroom products away just to ‘green’ your life. Put them on a top shelf because we all run out of things and it’s the perfect time to use this stuff up! To start checking the products your currently using in the bathroom, you’ll need to discover EWG Skin Deep Database. This stands for Environmental Working Group and they created a database that ranks most beauty products…from shampoo, conditioner, makeup, sunscreen, etc! You might find that some of your products are actually quite safe and eco-friendly so they can stay. The products that rank poorly should go on that top shelf. Now what? If you’re a newbie – you’re finding the site Saffron Rouge at the perfect time because US customers get free shipping over $50, Canadians get inexpensive shipping rates, and you can request free samples of products when you place an order. (Do you see what I mean about the timing of this article? It’s perfect!)  If your plan is to simply replace traditional beauty products when they run out – you can skip the EWG Skin Deep Database checking because Saffron Rouge uses the EWG as one of their tools for sourcing so the safety is already in place for the consumer.

I’m a huge fan of one stop shopping so don’t only green your beauty products in the bathroom but purchase the only cleaner you need.  Yes, I’m still talking about Dr. Bronners and I’ll keep talking about it for a longggg time. It is the only cleaner I have in my house – it’s all you need and it’s so safe for your family!  This liquid soap (the cleaner) and the bar soaps (for body), body lotions, and shaving gels for men are all available here. So many of the brands available are amazing and it’s easy to narrow the scope with budgets and preferences because of the range that’s available.  So I’ve got you covered for personal care and cleaning in the bathroom. If you have a Glade Plug-in or other artificial air fresheners that plug into the wall or are sprayed in a bathroom (Febreeze, etc.) this is the rule breaker for putting on a top shelf.  These need to go immediately. They are so incredible toxic to your health, pets, children, fertility, and babies. To make a statement I would take them to the hazardous waste dept in your area,but if you don’t have time….just recycle. What is your replacement?  Open a window and put some plants into your bathroom.  Anything that is marketed to ‘air freshen’ is only masking odor with chemical fragrance ….only outside air can help ‘clean’ the air. Read more on plant suggestions and air quality tips here.

Daily products that have antibacterial ingredients should be looked at too. Did you know that washing your hands with regular bar soap is effective for fighting the flu and colds?  Some products that contain antibacterial properties also contain triclosan which is a chemical that was created for surgical scrub rooms in hospital? Children should not be using products containing triclosan or microban antibacterial protection. Two places to check in your bathroom are plastic handles (toothbrush, toilet bowl scrubber, hair brush, etc.) that are packaged with antibacterial marketing, containing microban protection. Triclosan can often be found in hand disinfectant or toothpaste. Gross I know and more information can be read here on these chemicals.

Since Angie does have children..I’m going to take this bathroom detox one step further. The bath toys sitting in your tub? Are they a soft plastic?  Chances are they contain phthalates and the chemicals that make the plastic soft are what Canada is legislating to have banned by the summer. Think of your child or baby sucking on one of those bath toys like a sponge with chemicals on it.  I’m sorry….but the image really helped me when I got rid of them a few years ago. I love bath toys because all my kids enjoyed playing in the water but the soft, plasticized bath books and bathtub toys need to go.  I’ve used the Green Toys tea set and Boon bath toys with my smaller children. Naturally finished wooden products made for the water are another great option for tubby fun for older children.

A few bonus tips for the bathroom include sanitary product recommendations for women.  Have you ever thought that bleach on a tampon is toxic and the place it’s going is super absorbent?  This was the only product I couldn’t finish using up after I researched the article about tampons and pads. The thought of the bleach just made my stomach turn. I wrote an article regarding why women should use more natural alternatives and if you ask someone that’s tried a Diva Cup or reusable pad – they love them!  Saffron Rouge carries natural personal lubricants, all-natural deodorant and highly rated sunscreens.  These products are difficult to source so spend some time and poke around their site.  You can’t beat their everyday savings and product knowledge experts that are available through on-line chat to answer your questions.  If you have any for me – please post a comment and let’s discover that a household detox is actually much easier than it used to be. Writing this article almost 3 years after first discovering phthalates and writing about them has me pleased that Canada is taking action against this chemical but at the same time I’m sad at the lack of consumer knowledge. Forward this article to the people you love and ask them to start a chemical detox. It’s not about consumerism…it’s about making healthier changes in our lives with products we need to purchase for our home. Feel the power of educating yourself and starting a chemical cleanse.

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Time To Detox – Miessence Can Help

What is your chemical exposure like within your home?  The easier areas for myself have been kitchen and cleaning products to de-tox. A little harder and more intimidating is your personal hygiene because there is so much false information with marketing and green washing within the beauty industry. If you want to detox your bathroom, beauty products, shampoo, facial wash, right down to deodorant and shampoo, check out Miessence. The one-stop shopping experience at the Miessence site makes finding your ‘must have’ products easy, whether it be all natural deodorant, hair products, makeup, etc. It will also be a little more affordable with the 20% discount Miessence is offering on the entire site until November 29th.  Use the code ‘elyo20′ at checkout and save money!  The Miessence products would make awesome stocking stuffers or gifts for loved ones. I noticed there is even hair gel!  I know an 8 year old boy in this house that would love some gel that is truly void of chemicals (do you know how hard it is to find gel, deodorants, shampoo all on one site??!)

Why Miessence in the world of organics? For me, I have two criteria besides the actual products themselves (which in this case I have tested): how knowledgeable are the people selling it and how does it rate with the experts?  In the vast world of social media which I’m fairy entrenched, some of the top advocates for human health are Miessence representatives. Erin Ely from Miessence is always reaching out to support the topics of how to improve health and the environment and is a trusted source for me with questions regarding personal care products. This is actually very important when purchasing products that you are ingesting, inhaling, & rubbing on your skin and hair. Also, the trusted folks at EWG have given the entire line of Miessence products a very solid rating across the board.  I have also been testing the lemon shampoo, conditioner, and facial cleanser for the past month and I’m very happy with the results. My skin just loves the daily cleanser..it is incredible.

Why should you be using organic makeup and personal hygiene products?  It is vital to reduce our chemical exposure. In my opinion, it’s our daily intake of household toxins that  has boosted the numbers of prostate and breast cancer and why so many suffer from infertility and more terrible health problems. From the food that we eat, to the plastic that seems to encase everything we purchase, to the chemicals and perfumes that we ingest and inhale…our chemical exposure has never been so high. I am hopeful that the small changes I make on a daily basis help my own family’s health and that is why I share these recommendations with you. It’s why 3 months ago I completely stopped using all products and adopted the ‘no poo‘ strategy to my beauty regime but I realize washing your hair with vinegar and baking soda can sound a little extreme to most people. This is where Miessence can help – you can replace the bulk of your bathroom’s personal care products easily and in one place. I haven’t worn deodorant in years and I rarely wear make-up , but in this world, those decisions are not realistic for people that go to work outside the home or still enjoy a daily beauty regime. This is why I’m writing about Miessence – it is a great fit for anyone, regardless of the degree of ‘green’ a person chooses to go with beauty.

My favourite Miessence product has been the facial cleanser. Skin care is something that is much harder to remedy with a home-made recipe so it’s been wonderful to use this silky soft cleanser and know that it’s good for my skin. I think with Christmas coming, it’s also the one area that women will splurge and will add to their own list to Santa. Safe and organic moisturizer for your skin is also a wonderful treat, a great product to add to the everyday items like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and deodorant.

So treat yourself to better health this year and pickup some Miessence products. The research is there – limiting your chemical exposure is important and it doesn’t need to be difficult.  One more thing you can tick off the Santa list.

I wanted to mention a new campaign that’s started on Facebook helping consumers by calling out companies that ‘pink wash’. This term is similar to green washing (telling consumers a product is eco-friendly when it’s not) as pink washing is a label on companies that market proceeds from their sales that are donated to breast cancer research (if they money actually reaches the cancer societies), while doing nothing to remove the chemicals from within their product that actually cause cancer!  If you would like more information on this Facebook fan page, click here or search Pinkwashing Hall of Shame on Facebook.

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Sun Protective Clothing Top Recommendation For Kid’s UV Protection

It still feels weird to say it but the top recommendations from experts this summer with keeping children safe from harmful UV rays are protective clothing, shade and sunglasses. It’s a different way of thinking for parents focused on finding sunscreens every summer, but this year, clothing is recommended as a first step for skin protection – even before sunscreen. With only 8% of all sunscreens being recommended from EWG for 2010, the role of sunscreen is shifting. Once I wrapped my mind around this new information I started researching sun shirts for my boys and protective sun suits for my twins and I found everything I needed at Organically Hatched. This online store has everything you need to protect your family with a full arsenal of sun safety products – from UPF 50+ sun protection clothing, to 100% UV ray blocking sunglasses, organic sunscreen, to recycled sand toys, and more!  I’m so impressed with their sourcing and I especially love the brand of sun shirts and suits I received to review for my kids. The NoZone shirts are North American made (Canada) and after checking with the very helpful owner from Organically Hatched, I’m assured the protection is chemical free.This is the reason I’ve put off buying sun shirts for the last few years…I couldn’t get a answer to that question from stores that import their sun protection clothing from overseas. NoZone clothing is made with quality polyester that provides the same protection as spandex/nylon blend, but is also very durable.

A bigger surprise with the sun shirts and toddler swimsuits has been how much my kids love them. Having no previous experience with sun protection clothing, I’ve been delighted to discover how very effective their UV protection is and this is so important for all parents. I can still remember last year my family’s first visit to the beach that resulted in minor burns for my girls. This year they’ve already been out wearing their adorable one piece swimsuits and I’m very pleased with how effective the clothing’s sun protection is. I also can’t believe how much easier my life is because I only need to worry about putting sunscreen on ear tips, faces, and necks rather than entire bodies. I got the long sleeve sun shirts for my boys – hoping that the long sleeves would not be uncomfortable after they’ve been wet, but I didn’t need to worry because the boys love their shirts. Not only are they gorgeous colors, but the fit is perfect and roomy which is not usually the case for my beefy 8 year old.  The shirt’s material dries very quickly (doesn’t get  heavy when wet), and because they have a zipper in the front – I’m not having to squeeze their heads through a tight neck hole. Only people with kids know how important it is for them to like what they’ll be wearing for hours at the beach and I’m thrilled with the feedback from my kids. Even my girls that love wearing regular bathing suits are completely happy with the fact they wear their sun protective suits outdoors and their bathing suits at our local indoor pool. The boys are ecstatic to avoid last summer’s 20 minute sunscreen application process in exchange for a 5 minute sunscreen application and comfortable shirts.

I’ll mention again that the NoZone brand is made in Canada! I really trust the fact these items are produced in North America and love supporting North American made items. The colors they offer in their sun protective clothing will please any parent and child. I spoke with a representative from NoZone about their shirts and how they protect from the sun. I received a very helpful response to my concern that the clothing isn’t treated with chemicals.  Here is the response.

NoZone shirts are tested to be UPF 50+ and this is the highest rating and it blocks out both UVA and UVB rays. The material is woven together tightly enough that the suns damaging rays are not able to get through the fabric. We do not treat the shirts in any way. The sun protection only comes from how tightly the fabric is woven. Our shirts/ suits are 100% polyester but UV protection clothing is available is a range of different fabrics. We choose polyester for its durability, quick drying properties and several other benefits to the wearer.

What is UPF you ask? It’s not a Mommy Footprint typo – UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much UV protection is provided by fabric…similar to SPF rating in sunscreen. A fabric with a rating of 50 will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. This means the fabric will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure significantly, because it blocks 98% of the UV radiation. This combined with sun hats, sun glasses and a recommended sunscreen will make all the difference with sun protection this summer for children.

A very cool item I noticed while writing this article and gives you insight to the excellent sourcing Organically Hatched delivers are the Aqua Sandals. I’ve never seen water-friendly kids sandals that are made of materials free from BPA, PVC, and Phthalates. WIth the price tag of only $14.99 this is a great product for parents looking for sandals that aren’t made from normal material PVC.

Pictures will be coming soon of my kids in their shirts to show how easy and light they are for children to wear. My boys have the full sleeve shirt in the below picture and they look so handsome against the ‘Marine’ blue colour. It’s been a great start to the summer having this added protection for my kids – check out Organically Hatched and enjoy one-stop shopping for your family’s sun protection.

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Sunscreen Surprising Truths Part II

In Part I of learning about safer sunscreens, we shared the latest findings on sunscreen safety from EWG (Environmental Working Group) and they are surprising!  Most of the points listed in their article about  ‘surprising truths‘ don’t need further explanation, but here is one that I’ve always struggled to understand. It’s the topic of nanoparticles and mineral (organic) sunscreens. We learned from Part I of this series that not every sunscreen (chemical sunscreen or organic sunscreen) is safe to be using, however it’s the mineral (organic) sunscreens made with zinc or titanium that receive the highest ratings for safety each year from EWG. My thanks to Gwen, owner of Nayla Natural Care for taking the time to write this great article on mineral sunscreen and the issue of nanoparticles. Take it away Gwen!

What is zinc oxide and titanium dioxide?

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are natural minerals found in the earth. Both have many uses such as ingredients in paints, foods, vitamins, cosmetics, and of course sun block. The reason why these minerals are used in sun blocks is that they have remarkable properties that give them the ability to reflect light and this is exactly what we want our sun block to do. Both of these minerals are excellent choices for sun protection because they both provide broad UVA and UVB protection.

What are nanoparticles?

Defined, a nanoparticle is a solid particle measuring between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is equivalent to a billionth of a meter. Manufacturers using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide must break down the natural particles before adding them to the sunscreen. If they didn’t, the particles would remain large and your sunscreen would go onto your skin as a thick and very white paste. Think of the pictures of lifeguards with thick white strips of sun block on their noses and ears. Not the most visually appealing look right?  To lessen this “white” look, natural sunscreen manufacturers use a process called micronization. Micronization is the process that breaks down the particles so they are smaller and will give the sunscreen that more appealing look once applied. Natural sunscreens will still leave a whitish tinge to the skin, but because of micronization, you will not look like the lifeguards.  =)

Some sunscreen manufacturers such as Thinksport, Thinkbaby and TruKid do not use nanoparticles in their sun blocks (but use micronization). The zinc oxide and titanium dioxide particle sizes in these formulas are greater than 100nm. Badger uses particles that range from 70nm to 300nm in size, so yes, a small fraction of their zinc oxide is made up of nanoparticles, but they assure that the nanoparticles in their formulas are safe. Badger also uses a special coating process on all of their zinc oxide particles that makes the zinc oxide “less likely to generate free radicals and will be less reactive with the skin than uncoated zinc oxide.” For more information on Badger’s stance on nanoparticles and to learn all about the coating process they use, please click here.

How will I know if my sunscreen contains particles that fall within the “safe range”?

The best way to know is to visit the sun block manufacturer’s website. Most manufacturers will post the nanoparticle info in the FAQ section like Badger has done. If you cannot find the info on the company website, contact them by email or by phone. If you are buying from a retailer, contact the retailer and ask them the questions you want answered before purchasing your sunscreen. You want to be sure that you are buying the best and safest thing for your family, so spend the time doing the homework and be confident in your purchase.

Related Posts:

EWG Sunscreen Guide & Surprising Truths Parents Need To Read

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