When it comes to choosing the best sunscreen, insect repellent and other outdoor products, the choices on the market can easily become overwhelming. Are there any ingredients to avoid? What about the risks associated with aerosols? Which packaging is the most practical and the most eco-friendly? We’ll answer all these questions in the following lines to help you make healthy choices for you and the environment.
1. Learn how to detect harmful ingredients for your body
Although some products can be very effective in protecting us against UV rays or in keeping away mosquitoes, these can be harmful to us on other levels. Indeed, some ingredients should be avoided!
First, the DEET commonly found in insect repellents has generated a lot of controversy in the last decade. This substance can pose a risk to the nervous system of some people and therefore should be used with caution. What you need to know is that its concentration in a product does not affect its effectiveness, but rather the duration of it. It is therefore wiser to apply it more frequently than to choose a product with a higher concentration of DEET.
Moving on to oxybenzone, octinoxate and homosalate which are substances often found in commercial sunscreens. According to the EWG, these ingredients could be linked to a hormonal disturbance with prolonged exposure. Oxybenzone is also known to cause allergic skin reactions in some people. Alternatives to these substances are offered to better protect ourselves, both from the sun and from the harmful effects of these ingredients. Go to point #3 to find out alternatives to these products.
2. Learn how to detect ingredients that may be harmful to the environment
Although we do not want to invite insects to our outdoor picnics, they have a great role in maintaining the harmony between fauna and flora. Eliminating these insects on a large scale can create an environmental imbalance that can have significant long-term impacts on our planet. Some substances such as pyrethrin/permethrin and imidacloprid, which are commonly found in insect repellents, are toxic to bees and other insects and therefore should be avoided.
Anything that can potentially end up in lakes, such as sunscreen or soap, can have a negative effect on fauna and flora. Phthalates/BBPs often found in shampoos and body washes can contaminate lakes and waterways, creating a toxic environment for aquatic life. These ingredients should therefore also be avoided.
3. Learn how to determine product effectiveness
You are now well educated to know which ingredients should be avoided! That's great, but how do you know which products are effective? There are natural alternatives to some of the toxic ingredients we mentioned above. Here are some examples.
For sunscreen, zinc and titanium dioxide are two natural minerals offering a broad spectrum of protection against UVA and UVB rays. There are several natural sunscreens made with zinc that can offer SPF protection up to 50. La Marcotterie's coconut lip balm contains a small amount of zinc, which will protect your lips from the sun while you enjoy it's devine scent!
When it comes to insect repellents, lemongrass and rosemary essential oils are odors that deters mosquitoes and other insects from approaching. When mixed with the right carrier oil, distilled water and alcohol it makes the perfect insect repellent! The natural insect repellents from La Marcotterie have exactly these ingredients and have been shown to be very effective in repelling insects.
If you want to wash while out in nature, there is a very simple trick: a natural and odorless soap. This type of soap won't disturb aquatic life and you'll have fewer visits from mosquitos than if you choose a scented soap.
4. Choose the right packaging
In order to be able to make the greenest choice possible, we must consider the environmental impact of our product packaging. Plastic is of course to be avoided as a container, especially one that can’t be recycled. Glass is a greener and more sustainable alternative in terms of quality. It's great to use for outdoor picnics, but probably less practical to bring camping, as there is a risk that the glass breaks For this type of outing, it’s wiser to opt for sprays or candles in metal containers. In addition to being more environmentally friendly than plastic, metal is stronger and lighter than glass, which makes it an ideal packaging for outdoor adventure products.
If you are lucky enough to have bulk product stores nearby, it’s the best option when it comes to reducing the amount of packaging. Shampoo bars and soaps bars are good alternatives to liquid versions as they do not require packaging.
5. Pay attention to the origin of the products
Now that you have the tools to filter through many of the products available, it's time to look at where your product comes from. The distance that each item has to travel before reaching your home also counts when it comes to finding the right product for you. In Canada, we have several natural product companies that offer quality alternatives that are healthy for us and for the planet. Here are some examples:
- La Marcotterie (based in Quebec): offers an insect repellent, a citronella candle, an SPF lip balm and an odorless soap.
- Druide (based in Quebec): offers a wide variety of outdoor products such as insect repellents, a balm to relieve insect bites, a bar of soap and lemongrass shampoo and sunscreen.
- Attitude (based in Quebec): offers sunscreen (for the face, tinted or normal and for the body).
- Rocky Mountain Soap co. (based in Alberta): offers sunscreen, after-sun body butter and SPF lip balm.
- Nourish Clean Beauty: offers sunscreen (tinted or not).
It's your turn to find your favorite local company to equip yourself with all the healthy summer essentials!