Non-Toxic Alternatives to Sunscreen

Non-Toxic Alternatives to Sunscreen

Now that summer is here, many people are using sunscreen-based creams or simply applying sunscreen to protect their skin. Sunscreen is an important protector against harmful UV rays. Unfortunately, few people actually look at what is in their sunscreen and research which ingredients are toxic.

Your skin is your largest organ – and for many of us it is one of our most treasured features. Unfortunately, it can be time consuming to read the label on every skincare product and research each ingredient. If a bottle says “Natural” or “Nontoxic”, many Americans believe the product is safe. Unfortunately, these terms mean very little when it comes to health and safety as they are not strictly regulated. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it “has not engaged in rulemaking to establish a formal definition for the term ‘natural.’” There are also no specific standards listed for the “nontoxic” label.

Chemicals to avoid when buying skincare products

Because the overall labeling of a product as “Nontoxic” or “Natural” is so inaccurate, it’s important that you read every ingredient of skincare products you plan to use. Here is a cheat sheet of ingredients to avoid in any skincare product:

  • Benzophenone and its derivatives like benzophenone-2 (BP2), dioxybenzone, oxybenzone (BP3), or sulisobenzone
  • Butylated compounds like butylated hydroxyanisole(BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Cinoxate
  • Ethanolamine compounds including diethanolamine, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate, and triethanolamine
  • Formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives such as quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and DMDM hydantoin
  • Fragrance
  • Heavy metals like aluminum, arsenic, lead, or mercury
  • Homosalate (also called 3,3,5-trimethyl-cyclohexyl-salicylate or HMS)
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Mineral Oil
  • Nitrosamines – called diethanolamine (DEA) or triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Octinoxate, also called Octyl methoxycinnamate, Octyl salicyclate, OMC, parsol, escalol, or  2-ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate
  • Octocrylene
  • PABA including OD-PABA, padimate O, 4-aminobenzoic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid, p-aminobenzoic acid, Et-PABA, 2-ethylhexyl ester, p-carboxyaniline
  • Parabens
  • Phenylbenzimidazole or ensulizole
  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Vitamin A

That’s a lot of ingredients! Take a look at your skin products that include an SPF rating (and yes, that includes bottles of sunscreen). If they have any of the above ingredients in them, you may be putting dangerous chemicals on your skin.

Don’t worry, there are products that exist without these ingredients. You can also follow our directions below for a DIY sunscreen.

Ingredients in our DIY Natural Sunscreen

Before we give you a recipe for homemade all-natural sunscreen, we wanted to talk about why some of these ingredients are recommended.

  1. Cold pressed virgin olive oil

Olive oil is great all around. It tastes delicious, has wonderful moisturizing properties and has an SPF rating of 8. We recommend cold pressed virgin olive oil for use in homemade sunscreen as this is the specific type of oil that has been tested for an SPF rating.

Olive oil can not only protect your skin from the sun, it contains antioxidants that will help skin recover from environmental damage. So, if you some suffered skin damage from the sun, from burns or just from aging, olive oil may help you recover.

  1. Coconut oil

With so many fantastic uses, it’s no wonder that coconut oil also has an SPF rating of 8. Coconut oil will not only will it protect your skin from the sun, it penetrates and moisturizes through layers of your skin. Additionally, coconut oil smells great!

  1. Zinc Oxide

This product is considered one of the safest for broad-spectrum sunscreen. Zinc is an essential mineral that we use in our body and it’s the only active sunscreen ingredient that has been approved by the FDA for infants under six months old.

We all remember zinc as a white cream or white strip that lifeguards have used to protect their noses. This highlights the one downside to utilizing zinc oxide in a homemade sunscreen – it has a tendency to clump into a white mass. That’s why we have put together this natural, DIY sunscreen. The formula used has minimal clumping – offering greater all-around effectiveness.

DIY Sunscreen Formula

1/2 cup cold pressed virgin olive oil

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup beeswax

2 tablespoons zinc oxide

1 teaspoon vitamin E

2 tablespoons shea butter

6 drops  helichrysum essential oil

6 drops of lavender essential oil


Add everything except zinc oxide and helichrysum essential oil in a medium sized glass mixing bowl.

Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat. Place the glass bowl on top of the saucepan so that the saucepan is cradling the bowl.

As the ingredients start to melt, stir occasionally to mix.

Add the zinc oxide and helichrysum essential oil and mix well. This may take quite a bit of stirring.


We have many other great DIY formulas and recommendations for natural skincare here at Change for the Health of It. If you are looking for personal health advice, be sure to contact us today.



Symptoms of stress

Can You Avoid These Five Symptoms of Stress?

Symptoms of stressModern life is filled with stresses. The three most common sources of stress are family pressures, work, and finances.

Unfortunately, studies have shown over and over again that stress can cause health problems. This is because, when you are experiencing stress, your nervous system activates your fight or flight response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream. These hormones make your heart beat faster, raise your blood pressure, change your digestive process and increase glucose levels in your bloodstream.

This response is actually beneficial in a situation of unexpected stress, like during an attack or when a child is in danger. It can cause a reaction without conscious thought, allowing you to escape your attacker or rescue the child.

However, in a situation which causes persistent stress, this physical response is eventually exhausting both physically and mentally. Extended periods of stress can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even drug or alcohol abuse.

There are many, many reasons a person can consistently get stressed out. Perhaps bad traffic has increased on your way to work, making transportation stressful. Maybe you are working long hours and not getting enough sleep. It’s important to discover your, personal sources of stress.

How Can I Avoid Stress Affecting My Health?

The best way to avoid the health problems caused by stress is to avoid stress altogether. However, this is usually not a feasible option. You may have a rewarding, high-stress job that, at the end of the day, you really enjoy. Your children may be going through the terrible twos – or the hormonal teens – and you will always be there for them. So, instead of avoiding stressful situations, you need to change how you handle stress.

Here are five things you can do to modify your response to stress:

1. Examine your reactions. Take a moment out of your next stressful situation and examine how you react. Do you tense up, clench your fists, your heart racing and your breathing quickening? Do you manage this reaction with things like breathing exercises or asking for help – or do stressful moments extend on and on – continuing past the one stressful moment?

2. Modify your life to change how you deal with stress. There are many changes you can make to take control of stress. For example, you can take one of my classes and learn deep breathing techniques to help you mitigate stress. You can take out some “me” time every day to ponder on what makes you grateful. You can take a walk in one of Oregon’s many parks and simply enjoy nature.

By changing your response to the “fight or flight” response, you are modifying your reaction to stress.

3. Include more healthy meals in your diet. Eating comfort food is a common response to stress. However, this only adds to the strain you are putting on your body. Instead of giving into that craving for comfort food, keep healthy snacks like carrot sticks, raw nuts and fruit around to help you stay energized during stressful situations.

4. Exercise. A great way to de-stress is exercise. However, when you are stressed out, you may feel exhausted and not up for a good workout. Keep yourself motivated by scheduling a weekly class, adding a motivational quote to your morning alarm or getting a workout buddy. You will be amazed at how exercising consistently makes your body more ready to deal with stress.

5. Update your sleep habits. Too many of us stimulate our minds and our brains with technology by watching TV, scrolling through our phones or working on the laptop before going to bed or while in bed. A great way to de-stress and help you sleep more deeply is to make your bedroom a haven for sleep by:

  • Keeping your bedroom dark when you’re ready for sleep.
  • Taking all of your technology out of the bedroom (including digital clocks).
  • Setting your thermostat 5-10 degrees lower than your average daytime temperature.
  • Keeping things quiet with a noise machine or earplugs.

We all have stressful situations that come up in life. The trick is recognizing these moments when they occur and modifying how we deal with such situations. If you need help handling stress in your life (and don’t we all?) be sure to come to my class on June 14th at Curves in Oregon City from 2PM-3PM. Just give my office a call to let me know you’ll be joining in!