Natural Sunscreens for the Whole Family

Every Spring as the weather is getting warmer I start to get everything organized for the heat of the Summer- water shoes and sandals, hats, beach essentials, swim suits… and sunscreen. And each year I try to find a natural option that isn’t loaded with chemicals while keeping my family from turning into lobsters (no olive skin/ 5 minutes to bronzed over here, we fair- skinned folks have to build up a tan over a looooong time). There seem to be some general things to look out for, some questionable, and some that you want for sun protection. As I did the research for this post I tried to simplify the information and make recommendations based on what I found* (I’ve also included the sources that I referred to at the end of the post so you can do some research for yourself if you wish). It’s sometimes hard to find quality options in grocery stores, so all of the options below are ones that you can easily find online (you can also find them in natural/ health food stores). See some of the good and bad things to look for in sunscreens and a few suggestions to try this Summer below- just add sun!

 

 

Top to bottom, left to right

Goddess Gardens Organics Baby Sunscreen 

thinksport Kids Sunscreen

Badger Kids Active Sunscreen

Goddess Gardens Organics Natural Sunscreen Spray

Badger Baby Sunscreen

Goddess Gardens Organics Kids Sunscreen

California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen

thinksport Baby Sunscreen 

For more natural sunscreen options available online check out Well.ca and Amazon– if you’re unsure about some of the products you find, Google search them by name and you should be able to find their ingredients listed along with information about how they really measure up (that’s how I discovered one of my old go- tos wasn’t as good as I thought).

One other thing I learned while researching the sunscreens to include in this post: if you like sunscreens in spray form (ie in an aerosol/ pressurized can), look closely at the ingredients, as they may not be cause for concern when applied to the skin, but inhaling them has it’s own set of concerns (this article was informative on this topic). This opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms, so I didn’t include any aerosol suggestions, just a cream that you can spray on without it becoming a mist). 

* Please note that these recommendations are based on research and information I found online. I am not making medical or scientific recommendations, and as with any skincare product if in doubt, apply a small amount to a test area prior to use. 

Sources:

EWG.org: Here and here.

SafeMama.org

WomensHealthMag.com

DavidSuzuki.org

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

 

Ready to Go Beach Bag

I like to think I’ve always been an organized person, but now as a Mom I have to always be a step ahead, especially when it comes to packing up and going somewhere- like the beach! A trick I’ve learnt is to always keep a bag packed and ready, so all we have to do when we want to go somewhere is grab it & go. See below for what I keep in my Ready to go Beach Bag!

Ready to go Beach Bag

1. Plastic basket- Dollar Tree Canada
I know I said ‘bag’ but these are great to put everything in- plus it’s easy to wash at the end of a beach day
2. Sunscreen- Alba Botanica
You can’t go anywhere in the Summer without the stuff & I like this brand’s natural products.
3. Wipes- Seventh Generation
Good to have on hand to clean up spills and wipe sticky ice- creamy hands (and help wipe off sand too!).
4. Outdoor blanket- JJ Cole
You need something to lie on at the beach & I love how easy to clean & travel- friendly this one is- it’s one of my most- used gifts I received at my baby shower.
5. Towel- Carter’s Canada
I love hooded towels for little ones and how cute is this flamingo one???
6. Flip flops- Old Navy Canada
A Summer staple, nothing to add!
7. Water shoes- Carter’s Canada
Perfect to protect little feet from walking over rocks & sand.
8. Sunnies- Carter’s Canada
You’ve got to protect those little eyes and why not do it in style?
9. UV Rash guard bathing suit- Carter’s Canada
I love the built- in UV protection & long sleeves- these are my fav bathing suits for Ari.
10. Sun hat- Old Navy Canada
For added protection from the sun & heat I love wide- brimmed hats
11. Wet bag- Little Alligator
To bring home all the wet gear – just toss the contents & bag in the wash when you get home!

Please note: I did not receive endorsements from any brands to include their products in this post, the items I have included reflect ones that I use and love!


July posts sponsored by

Going Natural with Baby: Chemical Free Products

The term ‘natural’ gets tossed around  a lot these days & it can be hard to know if a product really stands up to it’s claims. I’m always on the hunt for natural and chemical- free options to replace some of the current products we use and came across Boo Bamboo Baby almost by accident.
I was giving my friend’s baby a snuggle a little while ago and when I buried my nose in her fuzzy hair to give her a kiss, I couldn’t believe how yummy & coconuty she smelt! When I asked her what she used, she told me about Boo Bamboo. So off I went to find the products & see how they stood up to my scrutiny. I wasn’t disappointed.
The company offers four products in their baby line: a body lotion, bamboo wipes, a body wash & shampoo, and a diaper cream, all claiming to be natural, gentle, & safe. While the ingredients appear convoluted, I looked up each and every one to cross- check them against their natural claims and only came across 3 ingredients that raised minor concerns. I loved the coconut scent in the body wash/ shampoo & lotion (that’s what got me to try them!), but didn’t love that parfum is a listed ingredient. I also appreciated that the diaper cream & wipes were unscented, recognizing that these get used on some of the most sensitive parts of a baby’s body. The products also contain bamboo extract, a source of silica, which has great benefits for skin & hair. If you’re like me, you’ll be sneaking the body wash & lotion for yourself! 😉
All Natural Baby Lotion 
Loved the coconut scent! Rich & creamy. Perfect to moisturize after a warm bath.
Product attributes: all natural & organic ingredients; paraben & DEA free; gluten free. 
Ingredients of Concern: isopropyl palmitate– can be pore- clogging & can cause acne, dry
skin/ skin irritation. 
My rating: 8 out of 10

100% Bamboo Wipes 

I liked that these were unscented and loved the softness of the bamboo, making them a great choice for delicate skin on faces & bums; they stood by the claims of being gentle. They were thick & strong and held up to the challenge of dirty diapers. The pouch also made them convenient to toss in the diaper bag. 

Product attributes: gentle, biodegradable

Ingredients of concern: none. 
My rating: 10 out of 10.

All Natural Baby Wash & Shampoo 
Again, loved the coconut scent. This stood by the claims of being gentle & safe: it got into Ari’s eyes a few times and it didn’t sting (major bonus for babies & kids). 
Product attributes: all natural & organic ingredients; paraben & DEA free; gluten free. 
Ingredients of concern: parfum– a myriad of harmful ingreidents can be hidden under this term; hydrolyzed soy protein; soy concerns me as it is known to be genetically modified. 
My rating: 10 out of 10. 

Soothing Diaper Cream
This cream is thick & rich, allowing for coverage where it’s needed; I liked using it at night to help protect against dampness. If you’ve struggled to find a diaper cream that offers protection without a laundry- list of chemical ingredients, I’d recommend trying this one.
Product attributes: gentle, reduce soreness & severity of diaper rash
Ingredients of concern: none. 
My rating: 10 out of 10.
Final notes: I give Boo Bamboo major bonus points for being vegan- friendly & cruelty free. I also liked that the wipes are made out of bamboo, a renewable resource. If you’ve been on the hunt for some natural baby products, check out this great brand. (They also make a sunscreen for babies & kids– perfect as we head into the Summer!). If you’re looking for some grown- up products to try, they also have adult hair & body lines worth checking out. These products are great for users with sensitive skin and/ or skin conditions, as they help sooth & alleviate conditions such as eczema. Check out the Boo Bamboo website to view products & find retailers.
The website I used to look up the ingredients was Naturopathica– it had a user- friendly glossary of ingredients used in cosmetic & skincare products with an explanation of where they are derived from and what they are used for. 
Photo Credits:
Baby photo: NZ Womans Weekly
Product photos: The Pampered Baby
April posts sponsored by Gary Gallant Travel

Amazing Mom: Lisa, Ned and Macs

Do you remember my post a while back about teething? At the recommendation of many of my Mom friends, I added an amber bracelet to my teething arsenal and one of my suggestions was to try an amber necklace/ bracelet as a natural option to help sooth your lil one’s pain. I am never without it, and since Ari has cut three teeth since I wrote that post, I speak honestly when I say that it has eased the teething experience for our family. When I recently featured Steveston Village Maternity one of the owners, Beth, recommended I check out some of the great local brands they carry, including Ned and Macs
Since two of my goals are to offer natural solutions and to support local ladies in business whenever possible, I am always trying to find opportunities to combine the two. This week’s Amazing Mom Lisa and her business, Ned and Macs, do just that. Lisa is a great example of a local Mom trying to bring a natural solution for a common problem to the market. It’s partly thanks to Lisa’s own mum in New Zealand that this business exists and that she is able to offer a product previously not available here in BC- Baltic Amber teething necklaces. 
It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing a lil one wearing an amber necklace, and these accessories are more than just a cute fashion statement. If it’s something you’ve been considering, why not support a local Mom and business when you decide to give one a try? If you’re curious about amber and it’s healing properties, check out the information following the Amazing Mom feature questions. And now for a little from this week’s Amazing Mom

1.    
What
kind of products and/ or services do you offer?
Genuine Baltic Amber
Teething Necklaces – in 8 colours!
2.    
What
is the price point?
They retail for $29.90.
3.    
How
long have you been operating and how did you start?
Soon after the adoption
of my first daughter in 2009, she surprised me by teething at 11 weeks!!! I am
a New Zealander, and I knew of Baltic amber as a natural teething remedy, so I
set out to find an amber necklace in North Vancouver. I couldn’t find one in
any baby store, or even online anywhere!!! So I contacted my mum (still living
in New Zealand) and asked her to Fed Ex one ASAP! When my daughter was wearing
it, many of my friends- also new mums- started asking me what it was and what
it did. They then wanted one, friends of friends wanted one – of course…..and
Ned & Macs was born.
4.    
How
did you decide what to do?
Not being from a business background
– AT ALL, I just decided to ‘wing it’! I did some research, asked local baby
stores if they would be interested in stocking a natural teething remedy, found
a supplier, designed a logo, ordered supplies, got a small business license, and
left the ‘numbers/legal’ stuff to my professionals!
5.    
What
is your favourite part of what you do? What is the biggest challenge?
Truly believing in the
product and being able to build awareness of a natural remedy to teething.
No-one loves seeing their drooly, red-checked, cranky wee one going through
teething.
The challenge – as for any
momprenuer – is fitting it in to a busy working schedule (this is not my ‘real’
job, but just my ‘hobby business’). I am often working on the computer with an
infant hanging off my leg (as I am now!), or sitting down to fill orders when
my kids have just gone to bed (right about when all I want to do is sit on the
couch with a cup of tea!!!!).
6.    
Any
advice to other ladies/ moms looking to start their own business?
Go for it! But plan for a BUSY – or
more busy- schedule. Make use of people around you for the complicated stuff!
It’s way more fun to look after the more fun side of the business yourself. A
good accountant and legal advice is key!
Lisa & her lovely family

About Baltic Amber (courtesy of  the Ned and Macs website)

– Amber is a fossilized plant resin- not a stone
– Baltic amber is sourced from trees in the Baltic region of Russia and is completely organic
– It is a natural anti- inflammatory and analgesic (pain reliever) 
– It’s healing properties are released as it warms against the skin of the wearer

For more information or to order a Baltic Amber teething necklace, check out the Ned and Macs website.

Logo and images courtesy of Ned and Macs

Like Nature Intended: Going Natural with Baby

It’s becoming a topic increasingly in the forefront of discussion: going natural and chemical free. More and more people are seeking to live cleaner lives by examining what they consume and use in their homes and making the necessary changes to do so. However, the transition can be a challenging, albeit worthy one. 

First, everyone defines ‘natural’, ‘green’, ‘chemical free’, etc differently, so you have to determine what these terms mean to you and what you seek to change. Second, you have to learn what chemicals, toxins, etc are present in what products you use (and even the food you consume), so you know what to look for and eliminate them. Finally, you have to find the natural alternative to the naughty ingredients you are eliminating and find products to replace the old baddies. There is usually trial and error at this point, since you have to find products that you like and/ or that fit your budget. This still seems to be the biggest stumbling block for those seeking a more natural lifestyle- it’s costs green to go green.
For years my Mum has been encouraging us to be more critical of the products we use, and inevitably having a baby who depends on you to make choices for their greater good is a good kick up the bum to do so. Will and I have been transitioning the foods we eat and products we have in our home to more natural ones, but having Ari makes me want to speed up the process, especially where baby toiletries are concerned.
So, to take my own advice, I have defined what natural & clean living means in my home. We try to buy organic produce (and local when possible), eat food that we prepare ourselves and can pronounce the ingredients, and use as few chemicals as possible. I mixed a batch of home made laundry detergent a while back and have been happy with the results; I also do not use chemical solvents or materials for my furniture DIY projects.

While that’s all well & good, the biggest stumbling block for our house still lies ahead: identifying, eliminating, & replacing common products that harbour toxic ingredients. This runs the gamut from the contents of my makeup bag, to Ari’s baby wash, to Will’s deodorant… it’s ridiculous and scary to think what lurks in products we use everyday and use on our bodies.

It can be hard to decide where to start and overwhelming to navigate. I thought since I’m going to be doing the research anyway, others can benefit from my efforts and I can share my own journey with you. Please keep in mind my intention isn’t to come across as preachy or make already nervous parents even more paranoid. It is to offer you information and resources that you can review and use at your discretion. Since there are so many areas you can address when adopting a cleaner, greener lifestyle, my advice is to do so in stages, and prioritize.

The following info may be a lot to take in at once; there are a lot of terms that I only discovered while researching this post. I have done my best to try and narrow down the info and jargon into a reader- friendly format and have provided the links to my sources so you can check out the original articles for a more in- depth look.


Personal Items (Adult & Baby)
According
to US research, approximately 1 in 8 of the 82,000 ingredients in
personal care products are industrial chemicals[1]. There
is a ‘dirty dozen’ list of ingredients* you should look to avoid when buying
products such as make up, shampoo, and other personal care products[2]. (The
following info is from the David Suzuki Foundation website; I’ve listed the
general info below, but check out the link at the bottom of this paragraph for
a more in- depth description of the ingredients & info)
1.
BHA & BHT- used as a preservative in make up & moisturizers
Bad because: suspected
endocrine disruptors & may cause cancer (BHA)
2.
Coal tar dyes (p- phenylenediamine & colours listed as ‘CI’ followed by a 5
digit number- found in hair dyes & other products
Bad because: may cause
cancer & can be contaminated with heavy metals that are toxic to the brain
3.
DEA- related ingredients- used in products such as moisturizers & shampoos
(products that are creamy and foamy)
Bad
because
: may cause cancer if it reacts to form nitrosamines
4.
Dibutyl phalate- “used as a plasticizer in some nail care products”
Bad because: “suspected endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant”
5.
Formaldehyde- releasing preservatives- includes ingredients such as DMDM
hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, among others (see the David Suzuki Organization
website for more)
Bad because:
these chemicals slowly release formaldehyde, a known carcinogen
6.
Parabens- used as preservatives in a variety of cosmetic products
Bad because: “suspected endocrine disruptors and may interfere with
male reproductive functions”
7.
Parfum/ fragrance- any combination of fragrance ingredients used in countless
products (including those marked ‘unscented’); this umbrella term can hide in
excess of 3,000 ingredients[3]
Bad because: some ingredients linked to cancer
8.
PEG Compounds- commonly used in cosmetics as a cream base
Bad because: can be contaminated with 1,4- dioxane, which may cause cancer
9.
Petrolatum- found in hair products & products such as lip balms &
moisturizers
Bad because: it is a petroleum product & can be contaminated with polcyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer
10.
Siloxanes- found in cosmetics that “soften, smooth, and moisten”
 Bad because: “suspected endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant”
Tips:

If you’re trying to replace current products you use that contain some of the
ingredients listed above, check out the Think Dirty App by the David Suzuki Foundation; simply scan the barcode of a product you use & receive info on the ingredients, toxicity concerns, and suggested alternative products
– Don’t just trust the label because it uses terms
such as ‘natural’ and ‘organic’- read through the ingredients and learn what to avoid
– Seek alternative natural based replacements, such as olive oil & baking powder
– Check out some recipes & try making your own! (Check out Voyageur Soap and Candle Co Ltd for ingredients to make your own, ready- made products, & recipes)
*
Further information can be found on the
David Suzuki Foundation website here.


Baby Items
Bottles & Nipples
It’s
not just the quality of food you give your baby that you should think about,
but what you use to feed them. For bottle feeding, avoid nipples made of latex
rubber, (latex contains a carcinogen, nitrosamine, that is released when
the baby sucks on the nipple; latex can also harbour bacteria as it breaks down[4]) and
bottles, etc made of polycarbonate (the plastic containing bisphenol- A,
aka BPA, a chemical known to disrupt hormones[5]). Also
be aware of plastics containing phalates & avoid using them for
the same reason.
Tips:

Seek out nipples made of silicone & look for brands that are BPA &
latex free (don’t recognize what it’s made of? Do some research first)

Use glass bottles whenever possible
Commonly found brands, such as Gerber, Playtex, & Evenflo, offer the
above options
Toiletries
Like those listed above (see personal items), there
are a myriad of ingredients present in baby products that you may want to
avoid.
This includes products that may contain 1,4 dioxin
and those that may contain formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, and other ingredients
such as oxybenzone, boric acid, and sodium borate, among others[6]
(see here for a
comprehensive list of ingredients).

Laundry
There
are two things to address here: the clothing, etc and the products
you use to clean them. First consider what material is used: is it natural or
synthetic? Is it dyed? What other chemicals (such as pesticides and
formaldehyde) have been used to treat the fibres and fabric? Second, what do
you use to clean & refresh your sheets, towels, clothes, etc? Detergent and
other chemical residues found in fabric softeners and other treatments build up
over time in the material, causing repeated regular exposure to chemicals over
time[7].
Tips:
– Consider
investing in organic cotton sheets & bedding

Avoid fabrics that are ‘wrinkle free’ or have been treated against moths &
other pests
– Soak
items overnight to reduce/ remove residue[8] (some
treatments & residues cannot be removed completely, but you can reduce the
concentration of build up & subsequent exposure)
 
        – 1/2- 1 cup vinegar or
 
        – 1/2- 1 cup pickling salt or
 
        – 1/4- 1 cup baking soda (rinsing several times to
remove baking soda residue)

Purchase or make your own detergent that is chemical free
So with all of this in mind (and all of that new vocab!) I think the important thing to keep in mind is this: decide if this is a priority for you. If it isn’t, that’s totally fine. If it is, you will then have to figure out what you want to address and what your plan will be to change the products you use in your house. Maybe you only want to try chemical free cleaners or change up the products you use on your kids. Whatever your approach and however dedicated you want to be is something only you will know. I hope you will at least give it a try and see if it makes a difference.

One final note: for this post, I used sources that I felt were reputable and informative: The David Suzuki Foundation, The Less Toxic Guide, & Earth Mama Angel Baby. I hope you will check them out and see what other info you can dig up. 

Image Sources:
https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/70874296/neon-green-troipcal-plant-photography 
http://www.katespade.com/all-that-glitters-davie/PWRU3604,en_US,pd.html
http://www.abodeliving.com/bathroom/product/227


[1] http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/dirty-dozen-cosmetic-chemicals/
[2] http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/dirty-dozen-cosmetic-chemicals/
[3] http://davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/fragrance-and-parfum/
[4] http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/?fetch=babycare
[5] http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/?fetch=babycare
[6] http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/mama-resources/expert-panel/diba-tillery-rn-bsn/protecting-our-babies-from-toxic-chemicals
[7] http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/?fetch=babycare
[8] http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/?fetch=babycare