Nontoxic Summer Essentials
If you are like me, you are constantly searching for nontoxic products to keep your family safe and healthy. Sometimes, we want to be frugal and we’re willing to put in the time to make our own products. Other times, in the midst of our hectic lives and never-ending to-do lists, it’s easier to just buy a good product that’s already out there. Welcome to the first installment of “make it/buy it!” This post will focus on nontoxic summer essentials. Featured below are the best products to keep your family safe and healthy naturally as the weather heats up, whether you want to buy them or make them yourself. So load up your beach bag with these nontoxic summer essentials.
Sunscreen might be number one on your list of must-have summer stuff. Unfortunately, many sunscreens contain lots of harmful ingredients like parabens, phthalates, UV chemical absorbers, and other dangerous chemicals. Why put something on yourself and your kids that is more harmful than anything you are trying to protect against?
Mineral sunscreens, which provide a barrier to the sun instead of chemically preventing skin from absorbing sun rays (so they are technically sunblock, not sunscreen), are a safer choice. Look for sunscreens without nano-particles. They are so tiny they can penetrate cell membranes and also cause harm. And always check the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreens to make sure your sunscreen doesn’t contain any ingredients known to be harmful to health.
You can use ingredients that naturally have sun protection to make your own homemade sunscreen. Just mix 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup sweet almond almond oil, 2 TBS shea butter, and 1/4 cup beeswax (optional) in a mason jar. Place jar in a pan of water over medium heat and let melt. Stir in 2 TBS non-nano zinc oxide powder and 20 drops Carrot Seed essential oil and 10 drops Lavender essential oil. Remove from heat and cap. The hardest part is getting all the ingredients, but making it is super-simple.
- I’ve been using Badger Sunscreen Cream since my kids were born. It is consistently highly (well, lowly) rated on EWG’s Guide To Sunscreens. It is a great brand that I trust using on my family.
- ThinkSport Sunscreen got great rating on EWG and also very high customer review ratings for going on easily and having less of a white film than most nontoxic products. It has the highest level of broad spectrum protection and water resistance. There is also a sunscreen stick, a sunscreen for kids, and a baby sunscreen.
- This Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Continuous Spray from Babo Botanicals might be a game changer! I’m recommending it hesitantly because I have yet to find a sunscreen spray that is safe (and the lowest rated one on EWG is a 4). This one is not yet rated on the EWG sunscreen guide, but the ingredients (just zinc) are safe and the other Babo sunscreens have excellent EWG ratings. So, we might finally have a safe sunscreen spray folks!
Your crystal stick might be cutting it in the summer heat, especially if you are the active type. Don’t resort to plugging up your pits with aluminum and toxic parabens and triclosan. There are great new products out that are strong enough to work in the summer. Just make or buy a nontoxic version of this summer essential. You don’t have to be the stinky girl to be all natural!
I have tried many homemade deodorant recipes, and my favorite by far is this recipe from Yin Mom, Yang Mom. Just melt 1 cup of shea butter and a 1/2 cup coconut oil in the top of a double broiler, remove from heat, and let cool. Then stir in 1/2 cup of almond oil and a few drops of your favorite essentials oils and put the mixture in the freezer for 20 minutes. Then use a mixer to whip it up, adding in 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup arrowroot powder. The batch is huge, so if you make this you’ll be stocked for a really long time. I put mine into small mason jars, and keep one in my bathroom and the rest in the fridge until needed.
- I have to support fellow Philly girls, so I had to check out PiperWei Natural Deodorant. Activated charcoal is used to absorb wetness without staining, and it is super gentle on sensitive skin. It quickly became one of my favorite natural deodorants.
- Primal Pit Paste is not only totally natural and free of harmful ingredients and common allergens, it is also completely cruelty-free and earth-friendly. It works with your body to neutralize odor. This little jar is a cult favorite among natural product users – it will be one of your faves too.
- Schmidt’s Naturals deodorant is free of aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens & phthalates AND it really works. Plant-based powders absorb wetness while mineral-derived materials neutralize odors without stickiness, greasiness or staining. Plus, unlike many natural deodorants, it comes in a stick. It is currently available in 6 scents. I love Lavender + Sage (it’s in my yoga bag right now) – or try the travel size sampler!
Most drugstore lip balms contain chemicals and/or toxic ingredients, like petroleum, parabens, aluminum, “fragrance,” and artificial dyes. They are in even in the products geared toward kids. And we all know that kids are licking their lips and ingesting the lip balm. Keep your lips summery soft without toxins and lick your lips without worry!
Making your own lip balm is easy and fun. It is even a cool project to do with the kids. Just melt 1 TBS coconut oil, 1 TBS shea butter, and 1 TBS beeswax by putting a heat-safe glass jar in pan of water over medium heat. Stir in 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp vitamin E. Remove from heat and stir in 25 drops of your favorite essential oils. Then, pour into metals tins, or pipette into plastic tubes. They make great gifts too!
You’ll pay a little more for toxin-free lip balms, but they won’t break the bank. Try some of these great natural, nontoxic options.
- Organic Beeswax Lip Balms by Sky Organics
- Sierra Bees Organic Lip Balms
- Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lip Balm
- Vegan Bee Free Lip Balm by Eco Lips
Nontoxic summer essentials would not be complete without bug spray. You certainly want to keep your family safe from Lyme, West Nile, and other diseases that insects spread. Plus, bug bites are itchy, annoying, and nasty. But you don’t want to be spraying DEET or other toxic chemicals that are harmful to the brain and nervous system on your children. Luckily, there are a number of natural herbs and essential oils that bugs hate.
You can easily make your own homemade nontoxic bug spray with essential oils and some regular household ingredients. You’ll want to start with a tinted glass spray bottle, since you’ll likely have it out in the sun (a clear bottle might let sunlight degrade the oils, and plastics can contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the mixture when exposed to heat).
Fill the bottle with about 4 oz. witch hazel, 2 oz. distilled water, a little olive oil, a tablespoon of vodka or rubbing alcohol (you can leave this out if you think your kids will lick it). You can add in a little apple cider vinegar if you are going into a heavily wooded area for some extra protection (warning: you will smell like a weird salad).
Then just add in 10-20 drops each of your favorite insect repelling essential oils. I’m currently carrying around a blend of Citronella, Lavender, Geranium, Lemongrass, and Rosemary. Some other oils I really like (and bugs hate) are: Peppermint, Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, and Patchouli.
Shake the bottle vigorously. Spray generously for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, flies, gnats, and other biting insects.
- Nantucket Spider Summer Camp Bug Repellent is what I’ve been using on my kids this summer. It repels mosquitoes, flies, and ticks as well as other “camp bugs” like chiggers and no-see-ums. I spray it on the kids’ bodies, clothing, and hair. Nantucket Spider has other products too, including an extra strength tick repellent and a bug repellent for dogs.
- Mosquito Guard Repellent Spray uses all natural plant-based ingredients and is long-lasting, offering protection from mosquitoes and other insects for up to hours.
- The Yellow Bird All Natural Insect Repellent is a blend of essential oils, organic soybean oil, and distilled water that protects against mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and fleas.
Kids are always touching things – their noses, trash, animals, dirt, and God-knows what else. In the summer you are more likely to be outdoors and without access to a sink (and public sinks likely have toxic soaps anyway). Hand sanitizer (which my daughter calls “hanitizer”) is a must year-round, but it is definitely a summer essential. However, most hand sanitizers contain alcohol and hormone and immune disruptors like triclosan, synthetic frangrances, phthalates, and parabens. Don’t fear – you can still clean your kids’ hands without exposing them to these toxins!
Your own alcohol-free, kid-friendly, toxin-free is so easy to make! just mix together 4 oz. pure aloe vera gel, 1 TBS alcohol-free witch hazel, 25 drop Tea Tree essential oil, and 15 drops Lavender essential oil. Then put the mix in portable squeeze bottles.
- Of course, my favorite hand sanitizer is Young Living’s Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier. I always get the 3 pack and put one in each of the kids’ school bags. This is not alcohol-free though, so if you have kids who might lick their hands stick to one of the options below.
- I love CleanWell Natural Foaming Hand Sanitizer. It’s safe for kids and has no alcohol or harmful ingredients. It comes in a pump and is a foam, so fun for kids too. Plus it is pretty inexpensive and I can usually pick this up at my local health food store.
- Greenerways Organic Eco-Tizer is an on-the-go hand and surface cleaner spray. So, it is great for a hand sanitizer but also doubles as a multi-surface cleaning spray. It is chemical-free, alcohol-free, certified organic, hypoallergenic, and vegan. You can’t beat that, plus it is very reasonably priced.
Now you can fill up your beach bag and feel good about the products you are using on yourself and your family! Please share your favorite nontoxic summer essentials.