Hi there and welcome back! If you’ve been following along on this series, you know I’ve been walking through the many ways we can reduce exposure to toxins in our daily lives. The warmer months are upon us and I love spending time outside with my daughter. We’ve got the baby pool and the water table, the sprinkler and a climbing castle; my backyard is baby heaven. The things we do to occupy our children. With all these sunny days, I’ve spent A LOT of time researching non-toxic sunscreens. If I’m going to be slathering this stuff all over my family, I want to know that it’s helping, without any harmful side effects. Our skin is our largest organ and research shows that the chemicals in sunscreen are absorbed through our skin. So today I’m talking about how to find a sunscreen that isn’t loaded with toxic ingredients and I’ll share my recommendations with you so you can try them out for yourself if you like.
First, let’s talk about why non-toxic products are worth the extra time and money. For sunscreen, the big chemicals of concern can be found here. One of the worst offenders is Oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3). Oxybenzone is a type of phenol. Phenols are a group of chemical compounds that can be problematic for people with Autism. Our bodies break down phenols by a process called sulfation. Sulfate is a mineral and is essential for the sulfation process. People with Autism often have trouble metabolizing sulfate, with many studies demonstrating a high concentration of sulfate in urine indicating a lack of reabsorption in the kidneys, and severe Autism has been associated with low sulfate levels. Insufficient sulfate in the body leads to problems breaking down and detoxifying those phenols like Oxybenzone. This can lead to negative reactions to phenols, with symptoms like hyperactivity, irritability, aggression, red cheeks/ears, dark circles under the eyes and difficulty sleeping/night waking. Maybe you recognize some of these symptoms in your own child. Removing phenols can help reduce the stress on the body to detoxify. This concept can be applied to many other chemicals. A constant influx of toxins requires a constant need for sulfate (among other nutrients) for the detoxification process which takes place in the liver. If we reduce the amount of toxins that a person is exposed to and ensure the person is getting the sulfate needed to replete their body stores, then the body has a chance to catch up and we may see symptom resolution.
Side note: one of the best ways to help get sulfate into the body is with Epsom salt baths. Epsom salts can be found at any drug store or even online. I actually buy a 20lb bag from Amazon! The recommended amounts should be on the bag but I typically use ½ cup for children under 60lbs. For an adult, I use about 1-2 cups. One last thing on epsom salt baths – do not let your child drink the bathwater! Epsom salts have a laxative effect if ingested so you definitely want to avoid that.
Ok, let’s talk about sunscreen!
How do you know if your favorite sunscreen contains toxic ingredients?
The fastest, most reliable way I’ve found is to use the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website. You can type in the name of the product you’re wondering about or you can download the EWG Healthy Living app on your phone. With the app you can scan products to your heart’s content while you’re browsing the aisles at the store. I do this all the time! Here’s a short video to show you how easy it is to navigate the EWG website and how you can find safe sunscreens with no toxic ingredients.
This is the sunscreen that I ended up purchasing and I actually like it a lot. It is greasy but I don’t mind it at all because it goes on smoothly and easily. I don’t have to work hard to spread it across my daughter’s skin. It also goes on clear which is really nice so you don’t get those ghoulish white streaks across your body. The smell isn’t great but it isn’t horrible either. I found it on Amazon and it was a little pricey, $38 for two bottles (4.3 oz each). Other brands were even more expensive though so I bit the bullet and just went for it. Peace of mind is a wonderful thing, and something I’m willing to pay more for.
As I mentioned in the video, here are some other brands I’ve tried and really like.
100% Pure (wonderful cosmetics company – love their products!)
Earth Mama (my favorite!)
Juice Beauty (another good cosmetics company)