Don't be an all-you-can-eat-buffet for annoying critters again!

Banish Bugs With Our Recommended Insect Repellent Ingredients

Life

Summer is here! But that means so are the biting insects…. Ugh. Mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, and biting flies seem impossible to avoid when the weather heats up. They're really annoying and they can post a pretty big health risk. Mosquitoes and ticks alone can transmit some scary diseases like Zika, Lyme, malaria, encephalitis, and dengue fever. And to make matters worse, a new CDC report shows the number of mosquito and tick-borne diseases are on the rise (1). To help protect yourself against these pesky insects, we're discussing the most effective insect repellent ingredients that are EPA registered (AKA safe and effective) and CDC recommended: DEET, picardian, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

We know what you're thinking- synthetic chemicals are recommended?! In this case, the risk of disease is a bigger environmental health threat than using these two specific synthetic chemicals. Additionally, there have also been no scientific studies that show essential oils are effective in protecting against insect bites so we can't include them in our recommendations. You can try them and maybe they'll work for you, but there's no guarantee. If you really want our one DEET alternative, non-synthetic repellent recommendation, that has a transparent list of ingredients, and is scientifically proven to keep bugs away, stay tuned!

DEET

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is considered to be the "gold standard" of insect repellent. It's a good choice if you're outside all day in a high-insect are because it repels the most insects, including both mosquitoes and ticks, and lasts the longest amount of time (2). When applied correctly (make sure to read the label!), there are very few negative reactions from DEET. A product with a concentration of DEET between 20-30% can provide protection from insects for most of the day (3). DEET can be used while pregnant and on children older than two months and has not been found to be carcinogenic. Although some may see dermatitis or an allergic reaction from long-term exposure to high levels of DEET (2) and oral ingestion has been shown to have neurotoxic effects like seizures (4).

Picaridin

Picaridin (icardian) is another repellent ingredient that repels ticks and mosquitoes. It's been widely used in Europe and Australia for years with positive results. A product containing at least 20% picaridin has similar short-term results as DEET, although picaridin does not provide long-lasting protection as well as DEET and has to be reapplied more often (2). Picaridin has not been studied as thoroughly as DEET, but it does not seem to have any major negative health impacts. Although uncommon it can cause skin or eye irritation, so make sure to read the directions when using a product containing picaridin (5). We've become big fans of Ranger Ready Picaridin 20% Insect Repellent Mist!

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

Oil of lemon eucalyptus (P-menthane-3,8-diol) is a natural oil extracted from the lemon-scented eucalyptus plant (6). It can be an appealing ingredient to people because it's an alternative to synthetic chemicals like DEET or picaridin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is great at repelling mosquitoes, flies and gnats, but not so great against ticks (2). Products containing at least 30% of oil of lemon eucalyptus have shown to be almost as effective as repelling mosquitoes as DEET, but it has to be applied much more frequently (6). While it is natural, it can irritate the eyes or skin and is not recommended for children under 3 (7). Just a quick note: lemon essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil are NOT the same thing as oil of lemon eucalyptus though, so make sure to look for that exact phrasing in any ingredient lists.

Since oil of lemon eucalyptus is EPA registered and a natural ingredient, we think it's a great synthetic-ingredient alternative! We love Murphy's Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray. It uses 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus as a way to repel those annoying bugs and lists all of the ingredients (ethanol and water). It's super super hard to find a complete list of ingredients in insect repellent products, so we think this is a huge plus.

So which ingredient should I choose?

It depends! Are you in an area with a high amount of mosquitoes and ticks? Are you outdoors for the entire day or maybe just an hour? Do you want to avoid synthetic chemicals or are you okay with it? Are you traveling to a place that has a high rate of diseases like malaria or yellow fever? The EPA has a quiz you can take in order to find the best insect repellent for your needs.

We recommend to always read and completely follow the directions listed on any repellent product you use, and wash your hands after applying a repellent. Generally you want to apply repellent when you're outside while holding the product at least 6 inches away as you spray. While spraying repellent on your clothes is okay (although DEET shouldn't be sprayed on synthetic fabric), it's not a good idea to spray it under your clothes (8). Long sleeved shirts, pants, long socks, and closed toe shoes can reduce the risk of a bite because less skin is exposed.

Now that you're fully up-to-date on the best insect repellent ingredients you can go back to focusing on what really matters: barbecuing, swimming, beach trips, and all of fun activities that come with summer!


References:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6717e1.htm?s_cid=mm6717e1

2. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/prevention-of-arthropod-and-insect-bites-repellents-and-other-measures

3. https://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-guide-bug-repellents/ewg-repellent-guide

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=2506420

5. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/PicaridinGen.html

6. https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/pesticides/factsheets/oillemoneucalyptus.pdf

7. https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html

8. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods

Roundups

The 10 Best Non-Toxic Facial Sunscreens

Everyday coverage that protects against wrinkles and spots but won't clog pores

Updated for 2021!

Our best beauty tip? Wear sunscreen on your face every single day, all year round! Basically all dermatologists agree that wearing sunscreen is important to protect your skin from sun damage and keeps wrinkles and spots at bay. But, we know that it's not easy to find the right facial sunscreen for your skin type. And of course it's even harder to find facial sunscreens without any chemical sunscreens. So we dug through all that is out there to find non-toxic facial sunscreens without harmful chemicals that are well-reviewed, easy to find, and are all SPF 30 or higher. All of these facial sunscreens are mineral sunscreens, so they're healthier for you and are reef safe too, if you happen to be by the ocean. Many of our options also come in tinted versions, so they provide light coverage as well. So what are you waiting for? Check out these non-toxic facial sunscreens and pick one up!

P.S. We also have a roundup of our favorite non-toxic all purpose and sport sunscreens, and non-toxic baby sunscreens!

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Updated for 2021! None of the sunscreens listed here tested positive for benzene contamination.

We updated our sunscreen roundup for 2021 with the 10 best reviewed, non-toxic mineral sunscreens we could find. As always, we make sure that our picks are easy to find online and in stores.

Sunscreen in our minds is synonymous with summer and being outside! But there are so many choices, it's hard to know if what you're getting is something that actually works and that you will like. Not to mention that there are some questionable chemicals in sunscreens that are definitely horrible for coral reefs and might be endocrine disruptors that are absorbed through your skin and have been found to circulate in your blood. We'd prefer to stick with mineral sunscreens that basically act like a physical barrier to harmful UV rays.

These picks are great as everyday body and sport sunscreens. We always have one by the door so that every family member loads up before leaving the house. So look for one of our top 10 picks for non-toxic sunscreens the next time your tube is empty. Many of these brands have plenty of options in stick formats, with and without tints, and come in a variety of formulations for everyday wear, sweaty sports and beach days. Any of these are 10 options are safe for kids and babies too, but if you're looking for a specific baby or toddler sunscreen, be sure to check out our best 13 non-toxic baby sunscreen options. We also have a roundup of facial sunscreens that are formulated especially for everyday coverage that protects against wrinkles and spots but won't clog pores.



a) All Good Sport Sunscreen SPF 30
b) Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30
c) Badger Clear Zinc Regular and Sport Sunscreen SPF 30
d) Blue Lizard Sensitive Sunscreen
e) EleVen On-the-Defense Sunscreen SPF 30
f) Block Island Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
g) Jason Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Broad Spectrum
h) Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen
i) Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50
j) Two Peas Organics SPF 30 Unscented Mineral Sunscreen



Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

Roundups

The Best Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreens

Well reviewed, easy to find, and super safe for your little one

Updated in June 2021! None of the sunscreens listed here tested positive for benzene contamination.

It's finally here! We've rounded up the best non-toxic baby sunscreens just in time for all your outdoor adventures. We took into account ingredient safety, as well as reviews from parents, and availability at major retailers. Trust us that these options will not result in a goopy disappointment. All of these non-toxic baby sunscreens are safe for baby, toddlers, kids (and you!) and are free from harmful chemicals. They are all reef safe too! Many of these brands also make a stick that can be a lot easier for face application if your baby is extra squirmy, so make sure to check those out too. Hope this makes your summer to-do list just a bit easier! If you're looking for a sport or adult sunscreen, make sure to check out our roundup for the 10 best non-toxic sunscreens.


a) Pipette SPF 50 mineral sunscreen

b) All Good Kid's Sunscreen SPF 30

c) Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

d) Badger Baby Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream SPF 30

e) California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

f) Made Of Baby Sunscreen SPF 30

g) Sunblocz Baby and Kids Sunscreen SPF 50

h) Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50

i)Totlogic Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

Who can resist Target? It's our one stop shop for all things home, beauty, baby, snacks... basically everything! But Target is a huge store that carries thousands of different items; how do you know what are the best non-toxic picks? That's where we come in! We did the research and found the best non-toxic personal care items. All these items have been vetted by us and are readily available both online and in stores.


Everyone Meyer Lemon Mandarin Hand Soap
versed brilliance brightening serum
cocokind Mymatcha All Over Moisturizer Stick
e.l.f. Holy Hydration Face Cream Fragrance Free
Dr. Bronner's All-One Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Bar Soap
Tenoverten Nail polish
Hello activated charcoal toothpaste
Honest Lip Crayon
Herbal Essences Bio Renew Sulfate Free Shampoo
Welada Skin Food

Roundups

Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer

Tough on germs, without unnecessary yucky chemicals

Updated for Fall 2020!

Between COVID-19, flu season, or changing a poopy diaper on the go, hand sanitizer can be a life saver. But a lot of commercial hand sanitizers can contain fragrances and some pretty gross chemicals. To make sure you're getting the best possible product, we reviewed a ton of options and made sure they're easy to find at stores. There are options for gels, sprays, and wipes and lots of yummy smells like lavender or coconut and lemon, or just simply fragrance free if you want something simple. Try out several and stash them in places where you might need them, like the car, a favorite purse, backpack, or laptop bag. All of our non-toxic hand sanitizer recommendations are safer for you but super tough on germs!

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Roundups

A Selection of Better Nail Polishes

For those times you want to add a pop of color to your nails

Updated for 2020!

When most of us think of painting our nails, we picture the perfect color being shiny, glossy, even, and not fading or chipping for weeks. But, in order for nail polish to have all of those magical qualities, they must contain some very special chemicals. While we love a perfect mani-pedi, we know that some of the chemicals are not the best for our health. So, we rounded up a variety of safer nail polishes for you to check out.

You may be familiar with "three-free" polishes, which means the product doesn't contain toluene, formaldehyde, or dibutyl phthalate (DBP). But we wanted even better polish, which is why these products are all between five- and ten-free! But just remember, that these options still contain some basic chemicals common to typical nail polish, so be thoughtful about how often you apply.

We're also included some water based nail polishes. These are typically not designed to last for weeks, but rather a day or two. Water-based nail polishes are great if you are just looking to have polish for a special event or to use during great girls' night in without caring exactly how long they'll look pristine. Plus, some water-based polishes are kid friendly!

What are you waiting for? Pull out the cucumber water and bathrobe and get your salon on.



Better Nail Polishes

a) Aila b) Butter London c) Côte d) Ella and Mila e) Smith & Cult f) Tenoverten g) Zoya

Water-Based Nail Polishes

h) Acquarella i) Piggy Paint j) SOPHi


*Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

Roundups

Non-Toxic Hand Cream

Keep your hands and your health protected this winter!

We're right in the middle of cold and flu season, which means we'll try anything to avoid getting sick. The most effective way to stop the spread of viruses is to wash your hands, which is why we're constantly washing our hands this time of year! All of that soap and hot water can leave your hands dry and cracked, so we rounded up our favorite non-toxic hand creams. These creams will keep your hands moisturized and protect them from the elements.



a) Andalou Naturals Clementine Hand Cream
b) ATTITUDE Sensitive Skin Hypoallergenic Hand Cream
c) Honest Company All Purpose Balm
d) Grown Alchemist Intensive Hand Cream
e) Burt's Bees Hand Salve
f) Olio E Osso Hand Cream
g) Badger Hardworking Hands Healing Balm


We rely on EWG's consumer databases, the Think Dirty App, GoodGuide, and Made Safe in addition to consumer reviews and widespread availability of products at major retailers to generate these recommendations. Learn more on our methodology page.


*Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

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Sign up for our newsletter! Curated environmental health news delivered to your inbox every three weeks.
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
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