Tag Archives | Green Beaver sunscreen

DIY Sunscreen Without Chemicals or Zinc Oxide

It’s taken since the beginning of the summer to source, make, and test this DIY sunscreen recipe. I’m super proud of the fact it’s an effective recipe, made along with my friend Michelle who is a local holistic health nutritionistWe are not doctors, experts in the field of cancer or product manufacturing, but we are two moms on a journey to remove products we see as possibly harmful for our 6 children combined. What changed my thoughts over the last year from buying organic sunscreen to making my own?

DIYorganicsunscreen

There have only been a few times in my life where I totally couldn’t wrap my mind around subjects that should have been easy. Sunscreen has always been one of them. Long time Mommy Footprint readers will know how many sunscreen articles I’ve written trying to get to the bottom of ingredients and why titanium dioxide vs zinc oxide are better choices. The topics of 1) preservatives that make products shelf-life stable and 2) nanoparticles and non-nanoparticles are confusing topics that haven’t been researched enough for my liking. And once you remove the zinc and titanium ingredients from organic sunscreen, you start actually looking at ingredients you are left with and think “Hey – I could make this!” It’s very empowering to find your own ingredients that you can pronounce and understand how each one works within a recipe like sunscreen. Most importantly with this recipe, once you learn the SPF levels of oils and products you have in the kitchen – you’ll really be surprised.

And although I still have mad respect for organic sunscreen companies that have paved the way to cleaner ingredient lists and done SO much to educate consumers (Badger and Green Beaver in particular), I know that sunscreen originated in labs and was created with chemicals that just might have spiked the skin cancer rates over the last 50 years. Cancer rates have increased every year, even with all our knowledge of how to better protect our skin. So rather than just go without sunscreen this summer, Michelle and I have done our research and are happy to follow this recipe from Health Impact News. What ingredients were important to source and use? Red Raspberry Seed Oil and Carrot Seed Oil. Check out the SPF ratings for these two products and you’ll see why. Site reference here:

Carrier Oil SPF
Red Raspberry Seed 28 – 50
Carrot Seed Oil 38 – 40
Wheatgerm 20
Soybean 10
Macadamia Nut 6
Jojoba 4
Sesame Seed Oil 2 – 4
Shea Butter 3 – 6
Coconut 2 – 8
Olive 2 – 8
Avocado (unrefined) 4 – 15
Castor Oil 6
Almond Oil 5

So the recipe we adapted and followed from Health Impact News is:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup shea butter
1/8 cup sesame or jojoba oil (next time we’ll swap out for avocado oil)
2 TBSP beeswax granules (use more if you want it more water resistant)
1 TSP Red Raspberry Seed Oil
1 TSP Carrot Seed Oil

Click here to get full instructions on how to make your batch of DIY coconut oil sunscreen. Scroll down to Instructions.

You can use essential oils to scent the sunscreen, but the woodsy smell of the carrot seed oil was enough for our batch. My kids did complain slightly about the woodsy scent, but nothing compared to the fuss they made when we first started using organic sunscreen scented with lavender. ;0

You can use whatever essential oils you would like for scent, but make sure to stay away from phototoxic essential oils, which includes the citrus family and a few others. When these essential oils are exposed to the sun, they can cause the skin to burn faster.  **This is really important information**

Another surprise while we made the sunscreen, Michelle’s hubby was hedging bets that the exercise to make our own sunscreen was going to be much higher than just buying a bottle of organic sunscreen from the store. And we agreed. But then he started doing the math (bless him) and surprised all of us to learn that it was cheaper to make our batch of sunscreen than buying store bought organic sunscreen. And we still have lots of ingredients left over to make more! Here is the breakdown in cost:

1/4 cup (60ml) Coconut oil – ~$ 1.25
1/4 cup (60ml Shea butter – ~ $6
1/8 cup (30ml) Jojoba – ~ $3.75
1 tsp (5ml) Red Raspberry Seed oil – ~ $5
1 tsp (5ml) Carrot Seed Oil – ~$9
Bees Wax ~$.80

We took the average cost of our ingredients to figure out how our homemade sunscreen compared to the average store bought ‘clean’ one.  All of our 6 ingredients are organic and/or Fair Trade. The approximate total cost to make this sunscreen is around $26.  When we put it into the jar we ended up with around 220 ml of sunscreen.  The average price of ‘clean’ sunscreen that we purchase is around $19 and the size of container is around 100ml-125ml.  Our homemade sunscreen works out to be cheaper.

Who did this recipe get tested on?  We finished it at the beginning of August, and although the excitement has been high to share, we completed testing first. My lovely teenaged friend who has worked so much this summer and seen very little sun came with us to the pool and used this sunscreen on a very hot day. No trace of burning or pink. My children have very good base tans but we just returned from a week in the desert and they wore the sunscreen and only deepened their tans. And finally, Michelle’s daughters are very fair skinned and she is loving the results of the sunscreen too!  We are still trying to avoid mid-day super hot sun when we are spending a long time outside, and Michelle uses sun shirts, so please continue to use common sense and respect for the sun and UV. If you don’t already have a base tan, you’ll need to reapply this sunscreen recipe every few hours or more often if swimming. The good news is you’ll love how your skin feels after. If you really dislike the white zinc results from store bought organic sunscreen, you’ll love how this recipe immediately soaks into skin, has little scent, and makes your skin very soft after a day outside.

This recipe for homemade coconut oil sunscreen uses a variety of oils and is safe for the whole family, though you want to make sure children don’t eat any of it. Also, when not in use, store the mixture in the fridge to help extend the shelf-life and prevent it from going rancid.

You will know when you are ready to make and trust using your own homemade sunscreen. When the idea of it no longer sounds crazy, but a really smart, practical, idea.

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Choosing A Safe Sunscreen

I’m just back from Shoppers Drug mart (a very large Canadian drugstore) because I wanted to try an experiment. Using only a few tips in my memory, would I be able to find a sunscreen that didn’t contain ingredients I want to avoid? I know where to shop for organic, highly recommended sunscreen brands, but I distinctly remember the feeling of hopelessness when running out of sunscreen on vacation and having to purchase sunscreen in a rush, on the fly, without any notes in front of me. I can recommend sunscreen brands all day, but this article is being written to help empower you to find sunscreen based off ingredients – not brands. Even easier for mamas with iphones, etc., you can just Google Mommy Footprint Choosing A Safe Sunscreen and you’ll have these tips at your fingertips. But I’m winging it old school tonight and I was shocked to discover that only 1 brand met my criteria and it’s not one I would ever purchase because it was 30ml for $38. But the Lise Watier Sun Smart brand didn’t’ contain any of the below ingredients to avoid. BUT – out of the 50 of so brands on the shelves I did manage to narrow down a sunscreen brand I would purchase if I was stuck and really needed something for the kids. The Ombrelle Kids 30 SPF for sensitive skin sunscreen had 10.5% mineral based active ingredient, but did have 3 parabens listed in the ingredients. The bottle was large and under $18. This is what I would have chosen if stuck. Even with the parabens, it contained the least number of ingredients on the naughty list below. =(

Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium as the only active ingredient. I prefer zinc vs. titanium because Gwen from Nayla told me that zinc stops UVA1 and UVA2 while titanium only reflects UVA2. Both of these ingredients are known as physical blocks rather than chemical blocks which stops harmful rays at the skin level, rather than having them penetrate the skin. Another tip from Gwen is that Zinc is a counter irritant that is ideal for people with sensitive skin (another bonus for Zinc) which is why this ingredient is used in diaper creams. While we are talking about diaper creams I received an interesting opinion from the pharmacist I was working with tonight at the drugstore. I was explaining to her the scenario of being ‘stuck’ for a sunscreen and wanting a zinc, non-chemical brand when shopping in a big box store. She pointed out that diaper cream could work for this purpose. I went and looked at some brands and with zinc being listed as the only ingredient – she’s right! If you needed something to cover small parts (neck, face, ears) for a smaller child or baby, a zinc based diaper cream would go on very thick but would be an excellent block of harmful rays.

Parabens – may mimic estrogen; therefore this preservative is really not ideal for women or children. Paraben chemicals can also can trigger inflammation for people with sensitive skin. The ingredient may have a butyl, ethyl, mthyl, and propyl at the beginning of the word paraben (e.g. butylparaben) – so just look for the word paraben. If it’s embedding within a word on the ingredient list – this sunscreen contains parabens.

SPF numbers – just stick with SPF 30 and 30+ sunscreens. A perfect example of the greenwashing out there is Coppertone 90 SPF for Babies. First of all – babies aren’t supposed to use sunscreen and the 30 level of SPF protection is just as effective as inflated numbers since these super high numbers give sunscreen users a false feeling of protection causing them to reapply less.

Avoid 3 ingredients octinoxate, oxybenzone, and avobenzone.

Oxybenzone is also known as Benzophenone-3 and is known to cause estrogenic activity; these chemicals are also linked to development of the brain and reproductive organs. This is a chemical that you usually see listed in the ‘old-school type’ brands of sunscreen – watch for this ingredient.

The sunscreen that the pharmacist recommended to me had octinoxate in the active ingredients. When octinoxate is in a sunscreen that contains avobenzone, they destabilize each other causing the skin damage. Octinoxate even on it’s own is not a stable chemical block and it does not filter UVA rays. The side effects of octinoxate is it can product estrogen like effects and should not be used by women or children.

Avobenzone can produce free radicals in your body because it’s a chemical that absorbs ultraviolet radiation energy. Also in sunlight, avobenzone degrades and becomes ineffective within 1 hour. To summarize, while ingredient reading – stay clear from octinoxate, oxybenzone, and avobenzone.

Just by ingredient reading and sticking to titanium or zinc based sunscreen brands and avoiding parabens, octinoxate, oxybenzone and avobenzone I was able to quickly shortlist all of the sunscreens (which will save you and the nice sales person helping you a lot of time). Words like mineral based sunscreen, physical block sunscreen, nanoparticle free sunscreen, and zinc based sunscreen will also assist you with finding a safer brand for your family.

My best tips would also include not relying solely on sunscreen for your sun protection needs. If you have a baby – don’t use sunscreen. Instead use sun shirts, hats, and possibly a UV protectant tent at the beach. I still put sun suits and shirts on my children so that we only need limited sunscreen on their neck, ears, and face which helps prevent using massive amounts of sunscreen. Also, shopping online for sunscreen is a great way to find safer sunscreens since you have the information at your finger tips for top rated brands. So far this season I’ve used Badger sunscreen and Green Beaver – I’m very happy with both brands. To read my review on Green Beaver sunscreen click here.

Hang in there parents! There have never been a larger selection of safer sunscreen brands out there – we just need to continue to weed out the chemical filled brands and this can be done by ingredient reading. If you have any questions on sunscreen or personal care products, simply post on the Mommy Footprint Fan Page.

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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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