With summer imminent, it’s time to make a plan for your family’s summer wellness. Products like sunscreen and insect repellent will be in high demand, but some harbor harmful ingredients. There are great, nontoxic options out there if you know what you’re looking for!
Why Do We Care?
Toxins hide in many commonly used personal care products, such as sunscreen and insect repellent. These ingredients have been shown to cause cancer and disrupt hormones, especially in women. Many of them may mimic estrogen in the body, leading to infertility, miscarriage and breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. Some toxins may cause birth defects or affect the future fertility of infants still in the womb. They may also contribute to migraines, eczema, allergies, and asthma.
According to the Environmental Working Group, only two ingredients in sunscreen could be considered safe and effective. These are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Many ingredients, including homosalate, avobenzone, and oxybenzone, are currently being used in the U.S. in potentially dangerous amounts. These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors and may remain in the body, causing harm long after use. Some sunscreens may even be contaminated with the cancer-causing carcinogen benzene during the manufacturing process. Visit the Environmental Working Group website for further information regarding sunscreen ingredients.
Need a specific rec? 6 Clean Sunscreen Options for Fun in the Sun
Anyone else remember to slather the kiddos in sunscreen and then neglect yourself? Isn’t that the way of the mom? Aloe is a go-to, after-sun remedy, but many store-bought aloe gels contain skin irritating preservatives, drying alcohols, and hormone-disrupting artificial fragrance. Your best bet is to keep an aloe plant on hand at home and use the real thing. It will pay for itself many times over! If you’re into DIY, I also have an after-sun spray that I make every year. Hop over to my blog to read more about that and see my recipe.
I battle with the Dallas mosquitos every summer. They seem to be especially attracted to nursing mothers and their babies, and I’ve been breastfeeding since 2014! I’m like a sugary mosquito buffet. My approach to repelling insects is twofold: I treat our lawn and protect the family.
Outdoor Insect Repellents
I use the environmentally friendly lawn options Spartan Mosquito Eradicator and Skeeter Screen pellets. These products use plant-based ingredients that are safe for both pets and humans. This is especially important with my three kids playing in the yard!
Insect repellant sprays and lotions may be loaded with solvents, preservatives, and again…artificial fragrances. DEET, a common ingredient in insect repellants, is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and can be found in the placentas of pregnant women and in their newborns for months after exposure. When combined with oxybenzone, such as in sunscreen, DEET is absorbed more quickly.
Even Repel, which is marketed as a “cleaner repellent,” contains 65% p-Menthane-3,8-diol. This chemical is a known skin and eye irritant which should not be used in young children and is unsafe for consumption. When was the last time your kids DIDN’T put things in their mouths? I use an essential oil-based insect repellent that contains zero artificial ingredients or toxic chemicals. This is by far your safest option. Keep an eye out for more info on that recipe on my blog.
What Can We Do?
Although we cannot avoid all toxins, we can make choices for our families that mitigate some of the risks toxins pose. We are the gatekeepers of our homes! The first step in protecting your family is learning to read labels and understand ingredients. Be wary of greenwashing in your family’s personal care products. Terms like “natural” and “pure” may just be misleading marketing ploys. The Environmental Working Group is an excellent resource for product information that can help you become an educated consumer this summer.