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“Choosing a safe sunscreen for your family is such an important job as a mom. I’ve tried to explain the science behind what makes something a safe sunscreen, and what we need to look for when choosing a product.

ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SAFE SUNSCREEN

As the sun gets stronger and days longer, this is the time of year when I’m asked how to choose a safe sunscreen. I started paying more attention to sunscreen ingredients when I had to put it on my first born child. Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about what’s safe and what’s not. I’m also covered in moles from head to toe, and I see them now on my kids too. I’ve had a least 10 surgeries to have them removed, and often needed a second round to remove the margins. My family has a history of skin cancer, and my husband’s family has a history of melanoma. I’m truly diligent about sun protection, and it comes from both safe sunscreen and protective clothing.

Safe Sunscreen: Mineral based ingredients

The ingredients to look are zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both. These are mineral based ingredients, which physically block the sun from absorbing into your skin. They are your safest choice, as they don’t disrupt your hormones, and don’t actually penetrate your skin. Zinc in particular is healing for the skin. Think about all the diaper rash creams on the market, they all use zinc oxide, which has a healing mechanism. Even more interesting, there are studies that show zinc may help your body assimilate Vitamin D from the sun better. As our sunscreen wears off, we are going to be exposed to some sunshine until we reapply, which will produce Vitamin D on the skin. If that gets absorbed better from the presence of zinc, it’s a win, win.

Unsafe Sunscreen: Chemical ingredients

Despite us growing up with chemical based sunscreen, we now know they are harmful to our health. The chemical sunscreens block our skin’s ability to breathe. That’s not a good thing. Studies also recognize that many of the chemicals being used are disrupting our hormones. This is so important, especially on little bodies! These are the chemicals you don’t want to see on the ingredient list of your sunscreen:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Benzophenone
  • Butylparaben (always run when you see “paraben” anywhere!)

Additionally, methyliosothiazolinone should also be avoided. It’s a skin allergen, and was deem unsafe by the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety back in 2015. Yet it’s in 44 sunscreen on the market today in the US. It’s a chemical preservative and it doesn’t belong getting absorbed into your body.

Why Chemical Sunscreens are not Safe

Here’s the problem. As you sit in the sun, the chemicals bake into your skin. As a toxin, this is absorbed and then travels to your fat cells. They STICK there. Once you have a toxin that has found a fat cell buddy, they stick. Curious where they stick…you guessed it, cellulite- in all the places you don’t want it. Reducing your total toxin exposure everyday is a key part of achieving a weight loss goal. It makes a big difference.

Second, chemical sunscreens actually alter the integrity of our cells, increasing carcinoma risk. This means a sunburn is actually less damaging than what a chemical sunscreen does to your skin cells. Crazy, but true.

Third, if chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body? Sunscreens using chemical ingredients are being banned in Hawaii and Australia due to the toxicity in the wildlife that’s killing coral reefs. Mineral sunscreens do not pose the same risk to the environment.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”If chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body?” quote=”if chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body?”]

safe sunscreen Food as sunscreen

Foods that Increase Sun Protection Naturally

This is a fun thing! There are plenty of plant foods rich in antioxidants that actually help protect your skin from the inside out. While I still support using sunscreen, I’ll happily layer on these foods for extra protection.

  • Watermelon
  • Green Tea (try it iced!)
  • Leafy greens
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes

It’s the pigment rich foods that tend to boost an internal SPF. Tomatoes showed a 30% increase in sun protection after study participants ate a tomato rich diet. Maybe that’s an extra good reason for a caprese salad at lunch with extra basil, right?

Eating plenty of greens can also help us capture sunlight in our cells, which is then translated into energy via our mitochondria. (Sayer Ji- Green Med 2015 Chlorophyl)

Safe Sunscreen and Skin Cancer

I can’t gloss over the fact that skin cancer rates are on the rise. However, the use of sunscreen is also on the rise. Shouldn’t the cancer rates be doing down?

What’s happening may be related to our lack of Vitamin D as a society. Those of us living in the northern latitudes are certainly vitamin D deficient most of the year, and the supplements we may take are not the same as vitamin D generated from sunshine. Vitamin D from the sun is created via the absorption of UVB rays, to create D3 sulfate. What we buy from the store is just D3, and what is fortified in foods is just D2. These are both water soluble, versus D3 sulfate that is fat soluble.

Why is Vitamin D so important? A deficiency in this “hormone” is actually more likely to cause an overall increase in cancer risk, including skin cancer. So as we block all the sun we can to avoid premature aging and skin cancer, we may be setting ourselves up for an increase in cancer rates.

Adding to this concern, studies now show melanoma is more likely to occur in places where the sun doesn’t shine. There is a study that shows there is a reduced likelihood for melanoma for adults and children who play outside. (source) This isn’t the same case for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, so we all still need to be mindful about our sun exposure, but maybe it’s time to play more outside without sunscreen in the early hours of the day. Let our skin soak in the vitamin D created, and don’t wash it till the end of the day. Vitamin D needs nearly 12 hours to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream.

Safe Sunscreen Picks

How do shop for safe sunscreen? First, look at the ingredient label on the back. Skip the marketing on the front label and flip that bottle over. Look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in the ingredient label. Make sure you don’t see “fragrance” or methyliosothiazolinone on the ingredient list either.

Next, check the bottles against the Environmental Working Group sunscreen ratings guide. Enter your choice and shop for those with a #1 rating. These are some of my favorites. (and yes, I am a Beautycounter consultant as I joined many years ago to support their mission to educate women about safer skin care. And the discount)

 

safe sunscreen beautycounter nontoxic

The new sunscreen line from Beautycounter was updated with the addition of California poppy, which boosts the effectiveness of zinc oxide to block blue light. This makes it an excellent non-toxic safe sunscreen to avoid premature aging from blue light. In addition, the zinc oxide used is very fine, so you won’t be walking around covered in a white film. The newest formula is non-greasy and actually feels good on the skin. All of the sunscreen has an EWG rating of a 1.

In addition, there is a new sunscreen mist option available. It’s an air-pressured can, not a spray using chemical propellants. Also, it’s a non-nano particle zinc oxide so it’s not harmful to children. Those chemical spray sunscreens may be handy, but they are damaging to the skin AND your kid’s lungs if they are inhaled.

In addition to Beautycounter, I’m also happy with these brands and usually shop for them on Amazon. (However, I only use Beautycounter on my kid’s faces as they have very sensitive skin. Other sunscreens would make their eyes itch and get red so I stick with Beautycounter.) 

SPF Clothing

I think sun coverage during the day is another great awesome to protect our skin, and wear a lot less sunscreen in general. I don’t need all that much sunscreen on my kids when they wear sunscreen shirts and bottoms. My favorite brands to pick from are Cabana Life, Hatley, Mott50 and Coolibar. You will find me on the beach in this navy stripe Cabana life rashguard shirt this summer.

Add a big summer hat and you are golden! Well…fair I mean.

ultimate safe sunscreen guide safe sunscreen kids babies

I hope this long post about safe sunscreen is helpful, and I’ve added in a lot of information. Bottom line, enjoy your time in the sun safely, get some vitamin D, and choose a nontoxic mineral based sunscreen. Happy summer.

As we finish the first 30 days of the new year, are you evaluating your resolutions? Many of you created goals focused on food and fitness choices. Maybe you want to do something different, or give something up. Are you on track? Or did January get the best of you? What if I told you January isn’t the best time to make major changes. After a month of parties, overindulging, late nights, and travel, we are exhausted to start the new year. Why are we setting ourselves up for failure by creating lofty goals this month? What if what we need to do is not making sweeping changes, but start small.

Small changes are manageable, and often the caveat to bigger changes happening down the road. Trying to make a major shift in your lifestyle while recovering from the holiday season is a quick way to fall off the wellness wagon. If I tell you to just do 4 jumping jacks a day, I bet you can handle it. And maybe you will do a little more. The key is to start small. Enjoy those little victories. Focus on building your energy stores first, and then tackle those next hurdles to create a healthier lifestyle.

If you are wondering where to begin, here’s some tips to get you started. I see victory in your future…

Sit down to eat.

This is a simple task, yet a hard one for some. Sitting on a subway doesn’t count. Sitting in front of your computer at a desk isn’t ideal either. I’m talking about making space to sit at a real table, preferably with food and friends, to enjoy a break. Let your body relax and get out of that fight-or-flight mode that interferes with your digestion. Settling in for a real meal may help eliminate some of that digestive upset that you may have been experiencing.

Modern menu planning free printable

Get a free meal planning worksheet here.

Plan ahead.

If there is one small change you can make to set yourself up for successful change, it’s meal planning. Start with those meals that derail your healthy habits. Is it your snack choices? Plan those first. Is it breakfast? Pick out some new recipes to try that will provide you with the fat and protein to sustain you throughout the morning rush. Map your plan out in a way that works for you, on paper or in an app. Taking away the need to make a choice when you are suffering from decision fatigue is the best way to prepare you for sticking to a plan.

 

Focus on adding, not avoiding.

Too many detox programs are calling for you to give up your favorites when your tired body may not be ready. Post holidays, you are exhausted. Let’s instead think about what will nourish your body. Think hearty, richly colored soups and stews. Load them up with different colored vegetables than you normally eat. Now you are opening up your senses at the table and engaging with the new experience. There won’t be time to think about what you won’t be eating.

 

Chew your food.

Yes, this is an easy one, but often overlooked. As we embrace the colder months, it’s a time to slow down. We eat too fast and chewing is the first thing to go. We have to remember that our stomachs don’t have teeth and we need to do most of the work to breakdown our food. Focus on the idea that the more we chew, the more nutrients our body can accept from our meal.

 

Get moving.

Instead of joining a gym in January, just make a plan to move. It may be a walk outside, or maybe it’s a game of air hockey. Just commit to finding a form of movement that can restore your energy and stretch your muscles. Once your energy is restored post holidays, then it’s time to take another step on your healthy living journey. Walking throughout the day is better for you than an hour at the gym. What are you doing the other 23 hours?

Is January the right time for resolutions? Let's recover from the holidays first, and start with small victories.

 

Which of these tips do you need to work on first? Remember, pick one resolution that you can stick with and enjoy a small victory, and get ready for the next one. Thank you in advance for sharing this post with your community. 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NaturalGoodness #CollectiveBias

Toothbrushing with the kids has been an adventure. The guidelines have changed over the past six years and it’s hard to keep up with the latest and greatest. The one thing that has remained the same is using Tom’s of Maine Silly Strawberry toothpaste. I choose them because they don’t use any food dyes, compared to most of the other kid’s brands that use a Blue dye. The kid’s now ask for Silly Strawberry by name.

Avoid the toothbrushing battle with the kids

Although our toothpaste choice has been consistent, getting the kids to actually take the time to brush their teeth well has been a struggle. Bedtime takes forever with three kids and usually all three kids want to brush at the same time which leads to pushing and tears. We finally found a solution.

Teeth brushing dance party to the rescue! In order to get the kids to brush for the recommended two minutes, we find some favorite tunes and turn them up while each child gets their two minutes. Each kid gets to pick their favorite song and it motivates them to get into their PJs faster so they can be first. (Competition really works in my house.)

The second winning solution has been a fun timer app on my phone. This is a special treat they have to earn. If they don’t have good behavior leading up to bedtime, there is no toothbrushing app. I love how it tracks their brushing on a calendar and motivates them to get it down. It truly is amazing how well they are brushing during the two minute countdown and there is no nagging involved.

If you want to avoid screen time before bedtime (which I totally strive for generally), you can print out some fun toothbrushing printables if you search Pinterest. I pinned a couple on my fun printables board for reference. Print out your favorite, laminate it (I use this one) and then reuse it week after week.

Kids favorite toothpaste Tom's of Maine

Tom’s of Maine has been the natural choice for our family since we had kids. I was excited to see an even broader product line when I picked up another tube at Walmart. (Click here to get $1.00 off any Tom’s of Maine product purchase at Walmart.) There was a toddler-friendly flouride-free option, which is great for the littles ones to practice with and then the parent can brush with the flouridated toothpaste. This was the direction I got from the pediatric dentist we visited today for JJ’s check-up.

 Kids at dentist

The dentist gave JJ a clean bill of health! Teeth look good and even with his “groovy” teeth he is able to keep them cavity-free. Sometimes the natural choice doesn’t always clean as well as the conventional choice. When it comes to Tom’s of Maine, we consistently see healthy teeth in both kids and the grown-ups. As a general rule, we try to avoid synthetic food-dyes whenever possible. There is just too many strange health concerns related to them and no long-term studies available. Since there is a safe and healthy choice it’s makes the decision as a parent.

Happy brushing!

healthy living tips in the new yearI remember reading emails about the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle when Madison was in the hospital in September. Scanning emails were a welcomed distraction from her surgery and slow recovery. Messages from friends and family were so needed during that tough week. One morning, I got a quick break and sat outside for the first time in days. In that quiet space I decided to buy the Healthy Living Bundle and do what I can to keep our family healthy.

No surprise here, out of the 74 ebooks, the ones that really spoke to me during our hospital stay were the alternative health ones. It was western medicine that saved Madison, but I truly believe in the power of preventative medicine. I wondered what else we could be doing to keep ourselves grounded and immune systems topped off as we headed into a busy year.

Fast forward a couple months, and I have read through a couple of these books. The Essentials of Essential Oils was super helpful as I made the leap into adding essential oils into our daily routine. {Thank you Nikki and Kathy!} The Traditional Remedies for Modern Families may become your favorite too with easy to follow suggestions and recipes.

For all of the meal planning fans here, there are 14 ebooks to help you create real food meals, new smoothie recipes and maybe find a new love for kale.

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is available again for 48 hours only. I didn’t share it with my readers last time around since we were otherwise busy with Madison’s recovery. There are a lot of these ebook bundles around so please know I only share ones I think are useful.

The eCourses in the Bundle

The BEST part of this bundle is the eCourses. Now that I’ve tried out Essential Oils for a short while, I’m going to take the course in January. I’m excited to learn more ways to use EO besides getting JJ to sleep through the night. {You don’t have to do everything all at once with the bundle, you can do it on your own terms.} The Essential Oils course is normally $95 so getting that alone for $29 is a HUGE discount. 

In September I bought the bundle on my own and even splurged on the Kindle files. The extra $10 was worth it to me to make accessing my ebooks easy on either my laptop or iPad. (When you buy the bundle, there is a short video sharing how to transfer the Kindle/mobi files from your desktop to your computer. I also added the Kindle app to my Mac laptop so I could easily read at my desk too.) There is also a handy Getting Started information package included in your purchase so you don’t feel overwhelmed with all this new information at your fingertips. Over 18,000 people bought this package last September so it’s been brought back for a very quick sale!

When? 12 a.m. EST Monday, December 29 until 11:59 p.m. EST Tuesday, December 30

What? 74 eBooks and 6 audio & eCourses, PLUS over $140 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle HERE.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth $1140, and it’s selling for less than $30.

If you are ready to invest in your health for 2015, now is the time to get started. The sale is only for 48 hours so time is ticking. Plus you will get some fun bonuses too (I love the hard lotion bar I got from Made On!) that are valued over $130. The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle will only be on sale for 2 days only – from 12am EST on Monday, December 29 until 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, December 30.

photo credit: gauteh via photopin cc

It’s time for you to get the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle and live your healthiest year yet.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

In the four months since I’ve had my third baby, I’ve realized that making time to exercise is rather challenging. There is just more of everything else to do…laundry, cooking, cleaning, playing with another little being, and the list goes on. I’ve also realized that when I am able to sneak in some exercise, I feel a lot better throughout the rest of the day. So here I am trying to pull together some tips and reminders for myself on how I can create some time to exercise with the kids.

make time to exercise with the kids

One of the reasons I am paying more attention to my workout schedule is because I partnered with PlanetShoes on their Fit For Fall campaign. They sent me a pair of new sneakers (long over due!) and they are just adorable. Having cute sneakers is one of those silly things that just makes me happy when I get to go to the gym.

The first time I got up early to go for a run on the beach this summer, Madison came screaming out of the house after me wanting to join me. It was cold and bitter that day, but she came along and we “ran” the beach. I realized that carving out time for Mom to escape for a run isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Turns out there is a lot I can get done at the playground, even while wearing the baby.

I’ve been doing some of the exercises in this article, written by Parents magazine. It’s a full body workout using playground equipment. The slide lunge is a great one!

stroller workouts

Recently I discovered my love for stroller walks again. I did  it all the time when I had just one baby, but it got more complicated when I had two. It’s just as complicated now with three, but I can bring a double stroller and let Madison ride her bike now. It may not be super fast, but it’s a great way to get us all outside and moving our bodies.

There is still time for you to create a workout plan for the fall. Plus, share some of your goals on the Get Fit for Fall site and you could win your own pair of new shoes! Share your progress with friends and get new workout ideas from other community members. 

Erba Vita Tips to keep kids healthy naturally

As the kids return to school, so comes the return of the running noses and germy hands. With a little baby at home, I am super aware of the imminent germs coming into our home. There are a few new things we are doing this year to keep us all healthy and the germs at bay. Here are some ways to keep your kids healthy naturally this season, plus a giveaway for natural remedies from Erba Vita. Erba Vita is a European company with high quality natural products that are effective, GMO-free, and pesticide-free.

  • Buy a fun soap canister for the kids so they enjoy hand washing. Help them from an early age learn how to wash their hands well. Get them to sing a favorite song so they learn how long they should wash their hands.
  • Offer kids a balanced diet with lots of variety in their fruits and veggies. Offer favorite fruits for snack, or make them a fun strawberry fruit roll-up.
  • Use a hand sanitizer when you are out and about. We tested out the Mother’s Therapy Organics kids sanitizer Erba Vita Immun Kids and love it so far. It’s not as drying as most alcohol based sanitizer as it includes aloe vera-based lotion. I keep a small one clipped on my diaper bag so I can use it after changing diapers on-the-go. The kids gave it a “no sting” vote.
  • Get the kids to bed early. (And mom and dad too!) A good night sleep helps the body defend against germs during the day.
  • Boost immunity with a supplement, like Erba Vita’s Immun Kids. For ages 4 and up, it contains active herbal ingredients to help support a healthy immune system.
  • Keep tissues handy so they are ready for sneezes. Teach kids how to sneeze into their elbow by encouraging them to “catch” their sneeze.
  • Keep extra toothbrushes on hand so you can replace them quickly if someone gets sick.
  • Everyone in the house should get a flu shot. I know people have strong opinions on this, I’m voting for flu shots for our family since our littlest one can’t get a shot and I want to keep him as healthy as possible in his first year of life.
  • Make sure the kids stay hydrated. Send a water bottle to school and limit the amount of sugary beverages they consume.

 

Erba Vita is offering one lucky reader a $150 worth of products of your choosing. You can check out their Kids’ Line, Women’s Health, Weight Loss, and more. Please enter via the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway is open to US residents only until Sept 30th. Winner will be notified via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received some of the Erba Vita products to review, including their Leg Light Gel that I used at the end of my pregnancy. It was great to use at the end of the day. I appreciate their commitment to using quality ingredients and following the safest standard of testing. You can get some of their product line in Whole Foods now or order online. All opinions shared here are my own. 

I also received the Mother’s Therapy Organic line of hand sanitizer and lotion. So far it’s one of the kids’ favorite as it’s not too sticky and doesn’t sting like most alcohol based sanitizers. 

It’s hard to avoid all the articles recently talking about the safety of sunscreen. If you love to play outside like our family, sunscreen is one of those summer necessities you spend a lot of time applying and reapplying. What’s really in the sunscreen you use for your family? Here’s my cheat sheet of what to look for in your sunscreen and what to avoid. Plus I’ll share some of my favorites that all get grade of 2 or better on the EWG Guide for Sunscreen.

What do you want in your sunscreen?

  • Mineral based products using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
  • No false promises. It shouldn’t read “sunblock” or “waterproof”. These terms are no longer allowed on sunscreen labels. Water-resistant is ok.
  • Broad Spectrum label which protects against both sunburns and aging.
  • SPF of 30-50.

What to avoid in your sunscreen?

  • Oxybenzone or any other chemical based lotion that has an ingredient ending in “one.”
  • Spray sunscreens. Aerosol based sprays contain nano particles that can be inhaled into the lungs and cause hormone disruption. Yes they are easy to use, but they are TOXIC!! The FDA is finally investigating this issue. Read more about why you should avoid spray sunscreens here.
  • Anything claiming to have an SPF over 50.

10 Healthy Sunscreens for Every Budget

 

For my top picks, I’m including brands that I’m familiar with or have tested out myself. I also choose sunscreen products that you can get at your local drugstore, Whole Foods or on Amazon.

  • Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Face Stick, SPF 50 (Rating 2)
  • COOLA Suncare Baby Moisturizer Mineral Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 50 (Rating 1, this is what I’m using on my kids now)
  • COOLA Suncare Plant UV Face Moisturizer Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30 (Rating 1, I’m using this as my face sunscreen for everyday. Did you recently see the article about how wearing sunscreen keeps skin looking younger?)
  • Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple Lotion, SPF 50 (Rating 2)
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin Suncreen Lotion, SPF 50 (Rating 2)
  • Dolphin Organics Naturals Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 32 (Rating 2)
  •  Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen with Hydresia, SPF 40 (Rating 2)
  • Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm, SPF 15 (Rating 2) (I’ve shared my thoughts before in a past sunscreen post.)
  • Mustela Broad Spectrum Mineral Sun Stick, SPF 50+
  • Seventh Generation Wee Generation Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30

 

Further Reading: My friend Lori shared her thoughts on finding the best non-whitening sunscreen. For a very detailed cheat sheet with product reviews you can read Kathy’s SafeMama’s 2013 recap.

Disclosure: I have received some of these products in the past and none for the purpose of this review. All opinions shared here are my own. The Amazon link is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase via Amazon it helps support this site. Thanks!