Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How To Survive an Arizona Summer with Little Ones Part I: Sunscreen

with shades like these, bring on summer
Arizona is a lovely place to live from Octoberish to Mayish, but it gets dreadfully warm in the summer. Arizona natives always brag about it being a "dry heat" in order to keep themselves sane for choosing to stay here 110 degree summer after 110 degree summer.

 I know, because I am a native here.

I have often strapped a little one into a car seat, trying clumsily to avoid touching the burning hot metal to their poor skin. And I have often tried to crank the AC, only to find they are soaked in sweat when we arrive at the next stop.

So, this is a little "how to" that hopefully helps us all out. Or, you can just stay locked away in your house all summer, you choose! ;)

Because it's detailed, I've broken it down into two blog posts. This first one is dedicated to all-natural sunscreens.

On Sunscreen

If you are leery of mainstream, chemical-filled products, than you probably aren't ready to lather your little one in any of the common sunscreens out there. As my friend Amey put it, "These sunscreens are only intended for babies six months and up. I'm not sure what magical change happens in a baby's skin at the six month mark to make it safe..."

Ha ha.

Besides, the companies making sunscreen are not well-monitored and too often exaggerate the effectiveness of their product. They may tell you their product will last all-day in the sun, when it really wears off after a few hours of use.

Shocking, I know. This leads me to believe skin cancer rates are on the rise for a reason...
Also, many sunscreens actually block the UVB rays our skin actually needs to make Vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin. 

So, I decided to do a little research. After reading all that, what am I going to lather Baby E in?!

 First, I looked at the store bought brands that advertised themselves as "all-natural"  because, let's face it, convenience often wins out!

They are as follows (in order of priciest to cheapest):

1). Dr. Robin for kids is an all-natural sunscreen with a 30 SPF. It is very pricy- $24 for a 3.5 oz tube, but it was created by a dermatologist and mother who was sick of all the chemicals in the sunscreens out there, so it may be worth the dime. and sell it.

2). True Natural is for long days in the sun. This one has a 50 SPF and ranges from $22-24 for 3.5 fl oz.

3). California Baby sells a few different sunscreens, including one for sensitive skin. The basic 30 SPF is about $20-22 for 2.9 fl oz. Their two pack sunscreen for sensitive skin is $40.89 on

3). Badger All-Natural kids sunscreen (can purchase on Amazon or also has a 34 SPF. This one is $16-17 a pop for 2.9 fl. oz.

4). The brand "All-Natural" has a mercola sunscreen with an SPF 50. It can be purchased on Amazon for $17 per 5.4 fl oz.

5). The CHEAPEST, store bought, all-natural goes to Babyganics, though. A 50 SPF, 5.98 fl oz is $10.59 on You can also purchase it at Target,,, and BabysRUs. At that price, it's still a pricier alternative to the Sun Baby lotions we used growing up!

Like I mentioned before, not all sunscreens are created equal. For a complete guide to finding the best quality sunscreen, check out this very groovy site :) but warning, they are not all-natural on this site.

Personally, I think making my own is going to be cheaper, but we shall see...

Side note: I would NOT recommend buying an all-natural sunscreen with a 15 SPF or less. You are just wasting your bucks. Instead, try coconut oil. It has a natural 15 SPF, and it really is all-natural. (I buy my organic, virgin coconut oil at Trader Joe's for $5.99 for 16 oz.  Also, Sprouts normally has deals for 20 oz at $20. The quality may be better but I'm not aware of any differences between the two. I've used both).

Make sure to avoid these ingredients in sunscreen (read more on

  • Oxybenzone (found in 65% of sunscreens)- a hormone disrupting chemical
  • Retinol palmitate (a form of Vitamin A- fine in the body, but probably harmful on skin)
  • Methoxycinnamate or Octinoxate
  • Padimate O/PABA
  • Nano or Micronized mineral particles

Really, really all-natural alternatives:

1). Essential oils, like myrrh and lavendar, are natural sunscreens. 5-10 drops in a carrier oil, like coconut or olive oil, will offer protection from the sun at about a 15-20 SPF.

2). Coconut oil- again, about a 15 SPF

3). I found a few homemade recipes. For a homemade, all-natural sunscreen with a 20 SPF, click here.  

4). For a 30 SPF, click here (FYI: this one seems really easy!!)

5). If you are too lazy to click off my blog, I've decided to post one I found on Pinterest for you with a 30 SPF:

2 cups coconut oil, olive oil or avocado oil
2 oz beeswax- buy it from your local beekeeper or you can find it on Amazon
4 oz shea butter
4 TBS 100% aloe vera
6 TBS zinc oxide


  1. In a double boiler over boiling water to melt coconut oil.
  2. Add shea butter.
  3. Add beeswax to mixture and stir with a wooden or metal spoon until wax is completely melted.
  4. Add aloe vera and zinc oxide.
  5. Transfer sunscreen mixture into a glass (no plastic) container as quickly as possible. Because the sunscreen is made up of waxy materials it will become thicker as soon as it settles.
  6. Run tap water over container to bring the temperature down.
  7. Ice the sunscreen by placing the container in the ice water and stir mixture until you like the creamy consistency of it.
  8. Cover container with paper bag and store in cool area away from direct sunlight until you are ready to use it.
  9. Stir sunscreen before applying it so the mixture is consistent.

Final Tips:

  • Use a mixing spoon that you won’t use on food again. Because of the sticky beeswax the spoon probably won’t be good to use again.
  • Be wary when dealing with zinc oxide because it’s harmful if it’s inhale.
  • Zinc oxide comes in different strengths. Tailor the strength to your SPF needs.
  • Add oils like lavender or peppermint for smell. (They also add sun protection).
  • This sunscreen isn’t sweat or waterproof. Reapply after going in the water.

Well, good luck to all of you! More to come on this topic!

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  1. Another great post - so not looking forward to the heat of the summer.

    You can also get a 78 oz tub of Organic extra virgin coconut oil at Costco for $21. :)

    1. Good to know! That's where I'll buy it next time then!!!

  2. Did this end up being cheaper?

    1. Hi! I still have to test it myself but I'm hoping it is cheaper because I can create it in bulk. Ill update this post as soon as I try it. Even if its not cheaper, at least we know what's in it!

    2. I finally made the sunscreen today. Definitely cheaper to make yourself and prep/cleanup time isn't bad- about 20-30 minutes total. Good luck!