Medicine Cabinet Swap Part 3 – Insect Repellent

Ok, this post is kind of scary. I was appalled to learn the ingredients used in the most popular brand of insect repellent in the U.S. I knew it was bad for you, but geez! 

Brace yourself, we’re diving in. 

Off! FamilyCare Insect Repellent | Smooth and Dry¹

You see the product name “FamilyCare” and think, “ok, it’s safe for the whole family. That’s gotta be ok for us to use.” NOPE! It is touted as a “mosquito repellent you can feel good about” simply because it dries instantly, isn’t sticky, and lasts up to 6 hours. So, you’re not “feeling good” about it because it’s safe, but because it literally feels good on. Nicely played, Off! marketing team. Sneaky.

This product contains 15% DEET; which it what makes it lasts 6 hours (the amount of DEET in a product correlates with how long it lasts²). 

So what is DEET? We’ve likely all heard that it is not safe, but why?² ³ 

The science behind DEET is actually kinda neat. DEET works by confusing mosquitoes’ odor receptors by creating an aromatic barrier making it difficult for the flying vampires to land on us and bite.² ³ So, it doesn’t kill the bugs, it just confuses them so they leave you alone (personally, I’d be fine if the bugs died, but I’m sure it’s environmentally important that we have them…). Great concept. 

If only this synthetic chemical didn’t have side effects including rash and other skin irritations, numb or burning lips (my lips have definitely gone numb when I accidentally touched my mouth without washing my hands after applying bug spray), nausea, headaches (the smell alone gives me a headache), dizziness, and difficulty concentrating.³

From 1961 to 2002, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported eight DEET related deaths. Three from deliberate ingestion, and five from DEET exposure in both adults and children.³ Eight deaths over 41 years may not seem like a lot, but why risk it? It seems like kids are the most sensitive to the effects of DEET resulting in headaches, tremors, lethargy, seizures, involuntary movements, and convulsions. Prolonged use may also be linked with brain deficits.³ 

In addition to the possible side effects listed above, more serious side effects are possible as well:³
DNA damage
Negative impact on the nervous system
Muscle and joint pain
Weakness
Fatigue
Memory loss
Shortness of breath
Disorientation
Hallucinations

All of this, and yet Americans use about 6 million pounds of it per year.³ 

That is the only active ingredient in this Off! insect repellent, but they have several scary inactive ingredients.† Such as:

Fragrance – the list of chemicals in the “fragrance” alone are a lot to list, but eight of them are listed on SC Johnson’s list of skin allergens. Most “fragrances” are known estrogen disruptions and carcinogens. 
Butane – can cause gastrointestinal issues including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Prolonged exposure can cause sudden collapse, coma, respiratory failure, liver and kidney failure, and even death. 
Propane – yes you read that correctly; Propane! VERY toxic to inhale. It can cause hypoxia, which is a form of oxygen deprivation that can lead to death. Plus, as we all know, it’s highly flammable. Stay away from open flames, lighters, and torches if using. 
Isobutane – extremely flammable and an explosive. Breathing it in can cause shortness of breath and suffocation. If used during cold weather, it can increase your risk of frostbite. 
Ethanol – highly flammable. Consuming can result in a coma and even death.
Isopropyl Myristate – while not considered dangerous, it can cause skin irritation, clogged pores, and acne inflammation. 
Dimethicone – although it is used to soften the skin, prolonged use can cause skin and eye irritations
Corn Starch
Water
Magnesium Carbonate
Aminomethyl Propanol
Sodium Benzoate

Can you believe that?! I knew bug spray was flammable, but seeing Propane as an ingredient really surprised and disgusted me! Plus so many of these ingredients can cause skin irritations yet this is something meant for your skin! Am I the only one baffled at what the FDA allows us to put on our skin, breathe, and ingest?!

If you have this product lying around the house, you definitely want to keep it out of reach of children as ingesting this insect repellent can lead to serious illnesses and even death. Also, don’t use it if you’re going to be around flames. So, if you’re grilling, at a bon fire, smoking (which I am not advocating), lighting candles, around tiki torches, or anything else involving fire, don’t put on this “bug dope” (as my Granddaddy calls it). It’s better to get bitten by a couple of mosquitoes than it is to burst into flames. 

“But, Katie Sue, some mosquitoes carry terrible diseases! How I can protect my family without using something toxic?” 

Well, I’m glad you asked! Young Living makes a 100% natural insect repellent! Off! brand says it keeps mosquitoes away, but Young Living’s says it keeps ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes away!‡ It’s a powerhouse!

Young Living Insect Repellent‡young-living-insect-repellent

Combining essential oils such as Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Geranium, Spearmint, Thyme, and Clove with soft Sesame oil and Vitamin E‡ it is the best way to enjoy your time outside without pesky bugs flying around (while also not worrying about bursting into flames or toxic ingredients being absorbed into your blood stream)! 

It is formulated without DEET, parabens, fillers, phthalates, petrochemicals, animal-derived ingredients, synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances, or synthetic colorants.‡

It rubs easily into skin without being greasy or sticky.‡

It is dermatologist tested and hypoallergenic.‡ 

Child safe.‡* 

Vegan friendly.‡ 

I LOVE this insect repellent and take it to every outdoor gathering – it’s a must have! It is very effective, smells wonderful, and is completely safe.* I can apply it and not be bothered by bugs the whole time I am outside. Plus, it is actually beneficial to your skin, and will leave it feeling so soft!


I told you this post was a little scary, but I’m so glad and thankful we have a safe, effective alternative we can use! Do you have this awesome bug dope yet? If not, you can get yours here.

Thank you for learning with me!
IMG_20170502_185606_474
~Katie Sue
Striving for wellness and a chemical-free life, one oil at a time. 

 

 

¹Basic information for Off! FamilySafe Insect Repellent | Smooth and Dry was found on their website.

²Some information on DEET was found of OFF!’s information page.

³Additional information on DEET was found here.

†The ingredients list for Off! FamilySafe Insect Repellent | Smooth and Dry was found on the “What’s Inside SC Johnson” product page.

‡Information on Young Living’s Insect Repellent was found their product page.

*As always, when using Essential Oils, you want to avoid eye contact. When using with children, do not apply insect repellent or essential oils to their hands in order to protect their eyes from accidentally being rubbed by oiled-up hands.

Medicine Cabinet Swap – Part 1: Sunscreen

It’s already August! How did that even happen? Summer may be coming to a close, but there is still time to squeeze in a short vacation, weekend at the lake, outings to the zoo, plus Labor Day is coming up, and we’ll all be eating BBQ outside all weekend. To prepare for all these fun outings, we gotta have sunscreen! 

You’ve most likely heard that traditional sunscreens are bad for you and can even be more harmful than sun exposure. What makes them so bad for us, though? I mean, everyone and their mom has been using sunscreen since it was invented in the 50’s. My mother lathered up my siblings and I within an inch of our lives, and then, thankfully, in the late 90’s just sprayed us down. It’s a part of summer. If you don’t have a faint Banana Boat Kids scent on you all summer, are you even summering right? 

Turns out, there really are a lot of toxic, harmful ingredients in most sunscreens! You may think, “well if I just use it every now and then at the pool, it can’t do that much harm.” You would be wrong. These ingredients can do a lot of harm. Check out what this leading sunscreen contains:

Banana Boat Sport active ingredients:

(Banana Boat does not list its ingredients on their website [FISHY!!], but some are listed on the Amazon product listing. I don’t think all of the ingredients are listed because it ends with “…” and there is no way to view more, so who knows what else is in there.)
Homosalate: a potential endocrine disruptor and studies in cells suggest it may impact hormones. In addition to direct health concerns following homosalate exposure, the chemical may also enhance the absorption of pesticides in the body. (See more below)

Avobenzone: degrades in the sun, resulting in the release of free radicals that may actually increase the risk for cancer

Oxybenzone: also called “benzophenone-3” or “BP-3” has been increasingly linked to early puberty in girls, low sperm count and male infertility, and an increase in hormone-related cancers in men and women

Banana Boat Sport inactive ingredients:

BHT: In addition to liver and kidney effects, BHT applied to the skin was associated with toxic effects in lung tissue. BHT has been found to enhance and to inhibit the humeral immune response in animals. BHT has been shown to have tumor promotion effects. (BHT is found is almost every “beauty” product. Sunscreens, makeup, face wash, soaps, etc. It’s everywhere, and it’s dangerous.)

 Triethanolamine (TEA): hazardous short term and long term effects ranging from skin and eye irritation, to damaging the respiratory and immune systems and inciting cancer. Can cause inflammation on a short term and long term basis. Its immediate affects include itchy, watery eyes, dry and brittle hair and itchy skin. Over time, Triethanolamine use can cause chemical damage to skin such as blisters, a hot, burning sensation, hives and flakiness. Used in up to 40% of beauty items that are currently on the market.

So many scary ingredients with terrible side effects! Ross gets it. Kinda.

Ross-Geller-Sunscreen
This is just to be funny, I have no idea if Ross’ point is valid or just humorous.

Even the leading natural sunscreen isn’t that natural or great!

Alba Botanicals Continuous Spray Active Kids Sunscreen SPF 50 active ingredients:

Homosalate (15%):  has a mild hormone-disrupting activity. Studies have found that human breast cancer cells, when exposed to homosalate, grew and multiplied 3.5 times more than normal. The estrogenic activity of the chemical has also been observed in human placental tissues, raising concerns about pregnant women who may be exposed to the chemical. (See more above)

Octocrylene (8%): acts as a photosensitizer, actually increasing the production of free radicals when skin is exposed to the sun. Free radicals damage skin, increasing the risk of premature aging and skin cancer.

Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (another name for Avobenzone; 3%): see above 

All of these active ingredients are listed on Anne Marie’s list of  7 potential damaging chemicals in sunscreen.

Luckily, Young Living offers a TOTALLY SAFE broad-spectrum sunscreen! 

Its only active ingredient is Zinc Oxide¹ (10.5%), which acts as barrier between our skin and the sun – and it’s completely natural and 100% safe! Why would other companies even use other active ingredients when this natural sun-protector exists?! Banana Boat and Alba Botanicals don’t even have Zinc Oxide on their ingredient list – the “sunscreen” part of their products are all chemicals and the rest are fillers/chemical fillers to help the active ingredient chemicals work harder and absorb into your skin faster! Clearly, they don’t have your best interest at heart like Young Living does. 

Other ingredients found in Young Living’s sunscreen include essential oils, nut and cocoa butters, nut and fruit oils such as grape seed, coconut, vegetable, jojoba, sunflower, raspberry seed, and others. 

It goes on smooth, smells amazing, and works so well! It comes in SPF 10 and SPF 50. young-living-sunscreen

I have been using this sunscreen for most of the summer and the only time I’ve been burnt was before I bought this and my other “natural” sunscreen failed me. I’m tellin ya; it’s awesome!

You can get your bottle here. Don’t have this sunscreen and were burnt? Subscribe so you don’t miss next week’s post about Young Living’s After Sun Spray!

Stay protected!

IMG_20170502_185606_474

 
~Katie Sue
Striving for wellness and a chemical-free life, one oil at a time.

 

 

¹Young Living Sunscreen info found here.
Other links are built into the main page – anything that is underlined.