Choose Safe Sunscreens and Bug Repellants This Summer

Choose or DIY Safe Sunscreen and Bug Repellant

What's worse? The sun, or the toxins in the sunscreens?

It's not an either/or situation. For adults and children, regular exposure to the sun allows the body to make Vitamin D, a pro-hormone that allows your body to use vitamines and other nutrients and that is essential to every system in the body. Regular exposure to the sun lowers the risk of skin cancer! Yet, burning is clearly not the answer. And babies, whose skin is not yet fully developed, are particularly at risk. So what to do?

1. Drink lots of water ~ 2 to 3 litres a day! ~ and nurse your baby, and make sure there's always a non plastic bottle of water on hand.

2. Take care of your skin. Never wash with Sodium Laurel Sulphate (SLS/SLES) soaps or shampoos, and serve yourself a wide variety of raw and cooked foods.

3. Cover up in the sun between 11am and 3pm with wide brimmed hats, light natural fibre clothing, and keep an umbrella on hand.

Get out of the sun if your skin changes colour (ex light pink if your skin is light.) You've had enough!

4. Use sun protecting vegetable oils and butters to moisturize the skin and/or wear a natural sunscreen during daylight hours, reapplying it every 2 hours. Safe Sun Protection Cream is ideal for mid day SPF 28 protection:

What is “natural”? What is toxic? Now that's the problem!

In general, if you can't read the ingredients, or it's all initials such as OMC for octyl methoxycinnamate, it's probably toxic. The exception is if you see the latin botanical names of plant extracts or essential oils such as Benzoin or Gum Benjamin (Styrax benzoin), or if you see “Tocopherol” - that's a vitamin E.

To find out about the safety of a sunscreen you already own, or are thinking of buying, look it up at the Environmental Working Group's fabulous Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database at: or go straight to their 2015 Guide to Sunscreens and DO check out their Hall of Shame outing imposible claims, sunscreens that don't work and those that just plain harm you!

Remember that all citrus essential oils are potentially phototoxic, meaning that they cause the skin to burn faster in the sun and should not be used as perfumes, fragrances or ingredients in oils or sunscreens during daylight hours. Beware some natural brands that have included citrus and photosensitizing "natural scents" or essential oils - they obviously didn't consult an aromatherapist!

So what ingredients should you see in a natural, safe sunscreen?

For a SPF (sun protection factor) of 8-15, there's:
avocado oil (orange to green colour)
cocoa butter
hemp seed oil (unrefined)
coconut oil (cold pressed)
shea butter (unrefined)
sunflower seed oil (yellow to orange colour)
sesame oil
Make sure your hemp is unrefined Canadian and your cocoa, coconut and shea butters are fairly traded.

For an SPF of 28, sunscreens can use Zinc Oxide, a natural mineral that forms a shield, without irritating or clogging pores. I offer Zinc Oxide by the 100g for sale in my store and on my website You can stir in 10 to 20% in your natural lotion to up its SPF rating - but remember that you must reapply ANY sunscreen every 2 hours. Zinc Oxide has a 300 year record of safety, so I offer and recommend it as opposed to titanium. For more info on zinc versus titanium, read here:

What's worse? The bugs, or the toxins in the insect repellants?

In short, the toxins in your average insect repellant are far worse than the bites in the long run. DEET, permethrin and other common insect repellants are actually insecticides that you put directly on your skin! Added to these “chemical name” ingredients are the usual toxins found in lotions and creams: parabens and so forth, adding cancer risk to the potential for neurological damage. Pregnant women need to be especially careful to avoid these chemicals, and these should never be used on babies and children. If it can kill a bug, it can harm you.

My father worked in Nistassinan where the black flies pick your bones. His advice to avoid being mauled by bugs is:
1. Don't eat bananas, or sweet fruits or fruit juices.
2. Don't bathe, but if you must, do not use any scented soaps.
3. Wear light clothing and screen off areas if you can.
4. Eat garlic.

There are many naturally occurring scents that repel bugs:
Achillea alpina (Repels mosquitos)
Callicarpa americana (Beautyberry)
Catnip oil
Eucalyptus oil (eucalyptol, syn. cineol), mosquitos
Neem oil
Tea tree

If you want to make your own, be sure that you find a reliable source for your recipe, as botanicals are powerful medicines. If you want to buy an off the shelf product, look it up its safety first on the Skin Deep database. repellant
or check out my (Don't) Bite Me Perfume Kit
and (Don't) Bite Me Insect Repellant incense

Request a workshop to make your own blend at Anarres!

Have a safe summer!
Tracey TieF is a Certified Natural Health Practitioner who sells sun protecting oils and butters in bulk, and makes natural sunscreens, and (Don't) Bite Me products, using essential oils of cajeput, lavender, lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass and patchouli.

If you want to make your own, please register for an upcoming Workshop!
Monday, August 8, 10am to 4pm
Workshop: Make Your Own Healthy Sunscreens and Bug Repellants


#1 robertroach : Good Article !!

This is one of the best article I have read on safety from hazardous sunscreens and bug repellents. If they are not genuine and of good standards they tend to create problems. Initially it's been found out about such cancers too. There is of everything but precautions need to be taken.