Tag Archives | organic 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?


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.



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).



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.



All-Natural Tips For Managing Childhood Eczema

The Mommy Footprint site began after I became frustrated with the medical advice being offered for my daughter’s eczema 2 years ago.  Only after I sent an email to 5 moms with kids that suffered with sensitive skin, did I get answers. My Isabella hasn’t had an outbreak in over a year and I have a ‘recipe’ of tips that have been very effective. I’m not a Doctor and don’t claim to have a cure for eczema, but because all of my suggestions are completely natural – there’s no harm in trying. After writing out the ‘eczema recipe’ for parents in stores, gymnastic facilities, and over email, it’s time to Mommy Footprint my routine in one article. I realized a few months ago when the routine changed, how effective it really was when Isabella’s skin started to react.  More on this later…

Step 1: Personal Care Products

Many traditional soaps, lotions, shampoos, etc. contain phthalates and synthetic chemicals. For this reason, they are not healthy for any one’s skin, but especially not a child with sensitive skin. For children with eczema, organic skin care is a must. And try to really streamline how often you are applying even organic products to a child’s body. Do you use soap or shampoo on your baby/child everyday? If so, this is just not necessary.  I never use soap on my daughter or very occasionally if she has paint or really dirty feet and I wash her hair once every 3 months. Even if you’ve sourced all organic care products – you don’t need to use them often on a young child. A child or baby with eczema should only bath in clear water – no bubble bath, paint tablets that change the color of the water, etc.  Also, a big step that I missed at the start of Isabella’s journey is proper maintenance of cleaning my bathtub. There are two problems to eliminate before your baby or child with eczema takes a bath: residue from mommy or daddy’s personal care products and residue from cleaning products. The solution is to wash the bathtub before your child takes a bath and only use organic cleaning solution with a microfiber cloth. Right now I use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps to clean my tub and a Norwex microfiber cloth. For the longest time I kept forgetting that my soap and shampoo/conditioner left residue in the bathtub and that would aggravate Isabella’s skin. This point was proven when I worked for 3 consecutive days and my husband was in charge of bath time. I was taking a bath each morning to get ready for work, then he was giving the kid’s their baths that evening without cleaning the tub first. For the first time in a year, Isabella started getting little red bumps and was on her way to having an eczema outbreak.

Step 2 Laundry Routine

The first question a Doctor will ask when you bring in a child with eczema is “do you use dryer sheets?” I’ve written before about how toxic dryer sheets are for the entire family and removing these from a home will immediately improve your home’s environment. But let’s take this a few steps further for children with eczema. Your laundry soap is important to change to no fragrance and no dyes. I love my Ecos liquid laundry detergent and yes, it’s okay for front loading washing machines. Ecos also has a built-in soy based fabric softener which eliminates the need to use dryer sheets or traditional fabric softener that is terrible for sensitive skin. If you can’t find Ecos (I buy mine at Costco or Planet Organic), find a detergent that is marketed for sensitive skin with no fragrance.

Step 3 Household Environmental

My girls like to help clean-up so I needed to ‘green’ those areas if Isabella was going to be helping. Hand soap for dishes was the first area because Isabella loves to play in the sink with bubbles and dirty dishes. I make sure I always have eco-friendly brands available and luckily, these are easy to source.  Isabella also loves helping wash windows. I would never let her spray Windex to ingest, but she uses the Norwex window cloth that only requires spraying water.

My organic cleaner and microfiber cloths have been an amazing solution to spraying toxic cleaners in my home. The Dr. Bronner’s solution is great for cleaning hard wood, counter tops with a microfiber cloth, is made with organic oils, and naturally deodorizes with a wonderful peppermint scent.

Step 4 Direct Skin Contact

If I could afford it, I would replace all my kids t-shirts and PJs with bamboo. But for now, I try to make sure only cotton is against Isabella’s skin.  This is especially important with PJs or nightgowns.

I always find skin irritation occurs when I use crappy sunscreen on Isabella’s skin. I try to only use non-toxic, organic sunscreen.  I never use lotion on her skin either. When she has an outbreak or rash I use Spectro cream because it’s so effective with dry skin.

We haven’t explored play makeup yet, but I invested in non-toxic face paints and they keep all of my kids totally entertained and rash free after we apply them.

This long road of trying to prevent eczema outbreaks and dry skin has been very successful by improving the condition of our home with replacing toxic products that contain chemicals. Isabella was my inspiration for starting Mommy Footprint, born from knowing there is real value in parents sharing experiences and lessons learned in their journey. The cortisone cream that I used on Isabella never worked and I wished I had tried the natural route first. I hope these tips help any parent that are currently watching their poor child or baby experience the discomfort that eczema causes.  If you have any tips to add, please post a comment to this article.

Related Articles:

Treatment for Childhood Eczema

Dryer Sheets & Fabric Softner – A Household Toxin

Are Cosmetics Killing Us?

Gaia Natural Baby Lends A Hand With Childhood Eczema



Top Organic Sunscreen 2009

Last year I had a near impossible quest of sourcing where to buy organic sunscreen for my children when the hot summer weather rolled in.  California Baby was rated #1 by the Environmental Working Group for health hazard score (chemicals within the product) and sun hazard score (UVB and UVA) in 2008.  My quest to purchase California Baby in Canada turned up being very difficult, but after trying Badger Sunscreen and TruKid I was happy with my selections.  Because both of these sunscreen were so effective and safe for my kid’s skin, I was pleased, but one of my children complained bitterly about the very strong scent from the Badger sunscreen brand ~ so I’m always on the look-out for new products.  Since writing my article last July about sunscreen selection and safety, I’ve learned about a Canadian e-store that does carry California Baby Sunscreen called O’Baby Organics.  Since California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance SPF 30+, California Baby Sunblock Stick Everyday/Year Round SPF 30+, and Badger Sunscreen SPF 30+ were rated number 6, 7, and 8 out of a possible 1,104 sunscreens in the EWG skin deep database for 2009, they are definitely worth mentioning again.  Both of these brands have proven to be strong leaders in the cosmetics industry for not using harmful chemicals within their sunscreens, while providing very effective blocking for both UVA and UVB rays.

For 2009 the top organic sunscreen is Soleo Organics.  I’m so excited thanks to the EWG watch dog group, there is another tested and safe sunscreen option for families this summer.  Here is a picture of the Soleo sunscreen packaging, picture courtesy of Saffron Rouge website:

Saffron Rouge Organic Beauty is widely available to Canadian and US customers and they currently carry Soleo Organics Sunscreen SPF 30.  We love more options this year for non-toxic, safe sunscreens, so with the weather heating up this beautiful spring, start sourcing these brands right away.  I remember checking widely available American websites for California Baby products last year (Target, Amazon, etc.) and this brand was available by wait-list only.  Cross off one more product from your list, shop early, and ensure you are protected from the sun this year.  With parents having a heightened awareness that traditional sunscreens contain harmful chemicals, organic sunscreen companies are predicting stores selling out of popular brands early this summer.

For related articles:

Safe Sunscreen Guide For Children

Just Arrived – 2008 Safe Sunscreen Report From EWG!



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