Summer is almost here which means longer days and lots more sunshine! While being outside is good for our health, too much sun exposure can be damaging but so is using products with toxic chemicals (like chemical sunscreen). So, how can you protect your skin from the sun naturally?
That is exactly what we’re going to cover on this post. But before I give you my list of 5 summer essentials I want to remind up that adequate levels of Vitamin D are essential to our well being. 15 minutes of sun exposure a day can keep your levels up so before you go on lathering yourself in sunscreen and covering yourself in clothes, make sure you get those 15 minutes of sun exposure a day.
Can sunscreen be harmful?
There have been numerous reports of sunscreens being dangerous, being linked to cancer and containing endocrine disruptors. However, it’s important to note that there are 2 types of sunscreen:
- Chemical sunscreen: which is first absorbed into the skin and from there it absorbs the sun’s rays.
- Mineral sunscreen: which sits on top of the skin and deflects the sun’s rays.
Most reports you read about sunscreen being dangerous are speaking about chemical sunscreen. Generally, mineral sunscreen is safe and the way to go. However, it’s also important to check the label for the rest of the ingredients to make sure your sunscreen is indeed non-toxic.
As of right now, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only ingredients that have been deemed safe to protect your skin from the sun. So your best bet is to stick to sunscreen which have one of these 2 ingredients as an active ingredient.
According to this report:
FDA is proposing that all current and potential new ingredients be adequately tested for safety, including with studies to determine whether the ingredients penetrate the skin and can cause endocrine disruption, cancer or other health harms.
FDA has put the entire sunscreen industry on alert by proposing that in just two instances do we have enough safety information about ingredients to determine whether they’re safe and effective: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. For 12 other ingredients, the FDA has said there isn’t enough data to determine whether they’re safe. In particular, FDA raised concerns about the substantial skin absorption of oxybenzone, its potential to affect hormone levels and the increased absorption susceptibility of children (FDA 2019). Lab studies shows that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones, and physicians have reported sunscreen-related skin allergies, which raises important questions about unintended human health consequences from frequent sunscreen application.
This is actually good news and the reason why we are seeing so many more non-toxic sunscreens available!
Which are the best non-toxic sunscreens?
There numerous brands that are safe and non-toxic. We have personally tried several of them and while they are effective not all of them are easy to put on, especially when you have children. Other sunscreen leave your skin looking white, which is not how most of us like to walk around.
Our top picks for non-toxic sunscreen are:
- Goddess Garden Organics: they have a great line of products, from facial sunscreen to a type of spray sunscreen for children.
- Badger: Although their range of sunscreen is not as big as Goddess Garden, they use safe ingredients and their sunscreen rubs in very nicely, without leaving a trace.
- Earth Mama Organics Baby Sunscreen: Earth Mama has an entire line dedicated to safe and non-toxic baby products. They have been around for years and their product are safe and effective.
You can check if the sunscreen you have at home is safe by using to this database from the Environmental Working Group. It will give you a rating for your sunscreen, ideally you want it to be rated as 0 or 1.
UV Protective Clothing – the perfect complement to sunscreen
A simple way to protect yourself from sun rays without having to cover yourself in sunscreen is by using clothing that UV protection. This is the easiest way to keep the little ones safe from the sun, especially while at the beach or pool.
Both of my kids have UV protective bathing suits, which means that when we go to the pool or the beach I just have to worry about putting sunscreen on their faces. And if your kids are anything like mine, the less sunscreen you have to put on, the better!
Best UV protective clothing:
Our favorite brand is Land’s End, they have a comprehensive line of UV protective clothing for the entire family. What I love about their line is that not only do they have bathing suits but they also have beach clothes with UV protection, like this cute dress.
Land’s End is where I have found clothing for my husband, myself as well as my children. These are some of our favorite picks:
- Men’s short sleeve shirt
- Women’s UV protective bathing suits
- Children’s UV protective bathing suit
- or check out their entire line with UPF 50 protection
But sometimes, even if we’re careful, we might get a little sunburned. If that happens you can make a simple sunburn relief spray that soothes your skin and helps your skin get back to normal faster.
DIY Aloe Vera Sunburn Relief Spray:
- 2 tablespoons of witch hazel
- 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel or spray
- 10 drops of Vitamin E oil
- 3 drops of Chamomile essential oil
- 2 drops of Lavender essential oil
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together and put them in a 2oz spray bottle.
To use: Make sure to shake well before each use. Mist the spray onto your sunburned skin for relief. Spray as needed.
It’s that simple and it makes your skin feel so good!
Alternative, you can buy an aloe vera plant and use that if you’re sunburned. Just break a chunk off the plant and apply the gel directly on our skin.
If your skin feels like it’s burning and you’d like to put something cold on it, just place the soothing spray or aloe vera plant in your refrigerator or freezer until it’s cool and then apply on your skin.
Plastic bottles: are hot plastic water bottles dangerous?
As a general rule we avoid plastic in my home since a lot of plastic products contain endocrine disruptors and we rather be safe than sorry. A good rule of thumb is: avoid unnecessary exposure to possible toxic chemicals and stick to glass or stainless steal.
However, sometimes you might end up with a plastic bottle, maybe because you forgot to bring your own water bottle or you were at a party and that’s all they had. If this happens, it’s best to drink that water before it ends up sitting in your car in the heat.
According to this article from Today.com:
A 2014 study analyzed 16 brands of bottled water sold in China that were kept at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for four weeks and found increased levels of antimony — listed as a toxic substance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical in certain plastics that can mimic estrogen and has been under scrutiny for years
But of the 16 brands, only one exceeded the EPA standard for antimony and BPA, a University of Florida news release noted.
“I don’t want to mislead people, saying bottled water is not safe. Bottled water is fine. You can drink it — just don’t leave it in a hot temperature for a long time. I think that’s the important message,” Lena Ma, the study’s co-author and a professor of biogeochemistry of trace metals at the University of Florida, told Yahoo Health.
So ditch the plastic bottles and switch to stainless steel or glass. Our favorite non-plastic bottles are:
- Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottles
- YETI stainless steels bottles and tumblers
- Pura Kiki stainless steel bottles
- Lifefactory glass bottles
- Contigo glass bottles
Let’s not forget the bugs!
Another important thing to keep in mind during summer are mosquitos and using safe bug sprays. Click here to see a list of ingredients in bug spray you should use with caution or avoid.
For every day bug sprays, you can use alternatives that have toxic-free ingredients.
What are some of the best bug repellents?
- Make your own bug spray – safe for kids ages 6 and up
- NOW Foods Bug Ban spray
- Badger bug spray
- Bug Protector tick repellent
If you’re dealing with a lot of mosquitos in your yard, you can plant flowers that will keep the mosquitos away, like citronella, lavender, basil and rosemary.
Alternative you can use an essential oil diffuser with this Bug Ban essential oil blend to keep the mosquitos away while you’re out in your yard. This is great if you’re hosting a party or hanging out in your yard!
There you have it – 5 summer essentials to stay safe in the sun and keep the bugs away this summer!
One little hack I have to share with you is to always keep sunscreen and bug spray in the car, especially if you’re spending the summer with your kids. You never know when you will end up staying out longer than expected and it’s better to be prepared for sun and mosquitos.
Now that you know what’s safe, all there is left to do is to prepare yourself with non-toxic sunscreen and bug spray and make some amazing memories with your kids! Remember, we only get 18 summers with them so enjoy them.