Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Recommendations Part 3: Sunblock, Toothpaste, Hand Sanitizer


I've been doing a lot of birding lately, and most of the time while I'm outdoors I just wear my wide-brimmed hat.  But there are some times when I just need some sunblock.  On hot summer days, sometimes I don't feel like wearing long sleeves, so I need something for my shoulders and arms.  My top recommendation for sunblock is Badger.  Hands down.  This summer I bought a tube of Badger SPF 34 Lightly Scented.  One tube easily got me through the entire summer of outdoor activities. There are other brands around, however, Badger is my top pick because I know they have a sophisticated lab that can support the creation of a reliable product that's legally considered a "drug."  With sunscreens and zinc oxide, it can actually be quite difficult to get the zinc oxide distributed evenly throughout your emulsion. Plus, I know that it has gone through all of the proper testings  SPF-wise, preservative-wise, etc.  It's also pretty widely distributed and you can find it at most Whole Foods stores.  There's another brand that's top-rated with EWG, however it contains water and doesn't have an apparent preservative.  There have also been reports of it not giving reliable coverage.  (Likely due to the uneven distribution of the zinc oxide.) EWG doesn't take that in to account with their safety ratings.  So, that is why Badger is my one and only pick for this category. You can ask me "what about _______?" but my answer will be "Badger is better."

Earthpaste Natural ToothpasteFirst and foremost, we are still developing our toothpaste.  There are a lot of different factors that have slowed this project up, which I won't get in to here. (Too long!)  However, in the meantime, we found a great product that's also local to us.  It's made by the people who make Real Salt.  It's called Earthpaste.  It's not organic, but has really simple ingredients and actually tastes good too!  No SLS, no glycerin, no artificial flavors or colors.  

You can find it on our website here!

Hand Sanitizer
I recommend only using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.  Alcohol is the only ingredient that has a long track record of effectiveness, but also doesn't cause bacterial resistance (aka, superbugs).  I use Whole Foods 365 or EO brand, both of which I pick up at Whole Foods.  If you need something for your young kids, and don't want to give them alcohol-based sanitizers they could inadvertently drink, my recommendation is an alcohol-based sanitizing wipe, like these.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your postings, Stephanie - they're so helpful. Gluten issues can be very challenging for those of us who must avoid it. Here is info from on Badger's sunscreen: "Badger (EWG: 1 & 2) “Yes, all Badger products are gluten free. However, we have our Lip Balms and Sunscreen filled in a separate facility that also processes wheat and gluten materials on the same machinery as these Badger products. This facility does careful cleanings between each batch run to greatly reduce the possibility of any cross contamination, but since they do process wheat and gluten materials, there is always a chance of cross contamination and we cannot guarantee those products gluten free” (email: 16 May 2011)."

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for spending the time on this post series. My family greatly benefits from your expertise! We're so thankful to have a rock-star chemist (that cares about the things we care about) to whom we can turn for advice!

My husband says we'll live longer because we use your products! :D


Anonymous said...

I am so thankful for your time, mindful research, and compiling of all these lists/links, Stephanie!! I've been looking for someone and a business like you/yours! Also, I've been meaning to tell you I'm so glad your website just sticks to the facts and doesn't bring any political or religious views into things. I've seen some strange things at times while surfing the web for natural products wherein business owners were taking it upon themselves to project their personal views onto their consumers by throwing in controversial statements on their websites, etc. I respect how you just do your job and do it well.--Creating great products and educating people about great products. That's all consumers care about in the basic sense as a baseline consumer-to-vendor relationship. I trust your expertise. Thank you for being you and keeping things light-hearted and professional! You are a stand-out in the natural products industry.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie! Thank you for the fabulous info!!!! I always turn to you whenever I have a question about a product or question which one is best.

Regarding toothpaste, do you still recommend Miessence? Would you say Earthpaste is better ingredient/safety wise?

Would alcohol wipes (nothing else on them) be good or is that too much alcohol? Would a wipe mixed with alcohol and other ingredients be better?

Thanks for your help and being the BEST, most trusted resource! You are fantastic!!!!


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Not a fan of Xylitol, period. Otherwise, it would be a great toothpaste. :(

I've resorted to using tooth powders consisting of baking soda and salt. Just can't find anything decent in terms of toothpaste.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie!

I also am somewhat uncomfortable with xylitol. I have read several articles about how xylitol is really not a natural product, and besides, I don't need my toothpaste to be sweet. But anyways, these are the two toothepastes that I use:

Herbal choice mari (gel):


Poofy organics toothpaste (also has xylitol but other than that it looks good).*Poofy-Organics*-Happy-Teeth/Detail

What do you think of these two products ingredients wise?


Cindy said...

Have you tried Soleo Organics sunscreen? That stuff is amazing, it's all I would use when working outside 12+ hours a day- not one burn (when applied correctly)!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about glycerin. You clearly use it in many of your products and I just read in one of your blog articles about the benefits of glycerin. But here where you are talking about the Earthpaste you make a point of stating it has no glycerin. Please explain.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Wow, really surprised that there's opposition to xylitol. It's so good for your teeth and not all of it is from China (and even it if is, what are the specific risks you're concerned about? Manufacturers and importers can analyze the product for purity.) We do prefer erythritol over xylitol (what we're planning on using instead) because we can get it in certified organic form and it has all of the same benefits. But, in the meantime, xylitol is a safe and healthy choice for your teeth.

The Herbal Choice looks fine. I love Kristina and Poofy, but I didn't recommend their toothpaste because of the arrowroot powder. Arrowroot powder is great in a deodorant, but not so great in a toothpaste. Arrowroot is a starch that, if left in your mouth, could feed the bacteria that cause cavities. Basically like brushing your teeth with sugar.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Regarding glycerin--no, it's not a bad ingredient. Some people wish to avoid it in a toothpaste because they claim it leads to tooth sensitivity. There is no scientific research to back this up, but there are a few websites that claim that it creates a coating on teeth. So, some people wish to avoid it in toothpaste specifically.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

I just started receiving your emails this week. I am so happy I learned of your website and products by accident. Anyway, do you plan on making a hair product for dandruff?



Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed to see that my comment was removed. I posted that the xylitol is from China. This is a fact - I contacted the company and can provide the email response I received. Why censor my comment? Consumers should know where thei products they buy come from. As for your comment that manufacturers and imported can test for purity - do you actually know if the importer tests every batch of xylitol purchased?
I am a long time customer of Bubble and Bee products because of their purity and quality. However, I find the censorship of my comments truly disapponting. Do you want an honest discussion and dialogue about the issues or not? Or will you only post complimentary comments?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I apologize! It was an accidental delete!

I have forwarded your concerns on to Real Salt and will let you know what I hear back regarding this particular product.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

The original comment from Anonymous was "I'd like to point out that the xylitol in Earthpaste is sourced from China. The safety of ingredients from China is questionable and I'm not comfortable having my family use this product."

Stephanie Greenwood said...

@Anonymous--do you have any information about xylitol sourced from China and its specific problems? E-mail me some links and I'll be happy to take a look at them!

Debbie said...

Thanks as always for the time you put into researching all these options for us. I will definitely get that sunscreen next time I need some. Great ingredients! The xylitol in toothpaste (or gum) unfortunately makes me extremely ill digestively. It took a long time to figure out that was the source of my issues. I don't know if it's an allergy or what but I will never consume it again. I have never tried erythritol but hopefully it won't cause the same issues.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I have just verified with Redmond that while the xylitol is sourced from China, they do analyze the product and test it for impurities, fillers, etc. She is going to supply a certificate of analysis that proves that it is a pure product. It is also GMO-free.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I have now received the C of A from Redmond verifying this product meets the strict standards of purity to be USP grade xylitol, with no fillers. If anyone would like a copy, please feel free to e-mail me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

When you say alcohol-based hand sanitizers are best...any type of alcohol will do right? someone was telling me recently about how you can make your own hand sanitizer using vodka, water, and veg. glycerin. Makes sense to me, but wanted to get your take on this. I also heard that hydrogen peroxide is a germ-killer as an alternative to alcohol...what do you think about these 2 ingredients?


Anonymous said...

any thoughts on VitaCare toothpaste? yes, water is the primary ingredient, but other than that how does it measure up?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Do you have a link to the product or an ingredients list you can post?

Unknown said...

Any thoughts on tooth soap, Stephanie? I just heard about it recently and would love your opinion. Thanks!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I have no qualms with Tooth Soap.

Angie M. said...

I am also interested in what you think about the VitaCare toothpaste. I received the Mint + Pomegranate flavor in a subscription box. Here are the ingredients:

and, like a few other comments, I'm concerned about xylitol. I've been using Spry gum and toothpaste because I read of the dental benefits and have been using them for about a month with no side effects. However, I came across this article ( and now I don't know what to think. I don't know enough about it to form an educated opinion and would like to know what you think about the claims in it. I'm not a reader of that blog nor am I affiliated with it, and I realize it was written two years ago, but there is a recent update.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Thanks for your questions, Angie. I would say that the VitaCare ingredients are somewhat ok (no huge red flags) but not great either. Potassium sorbate is a petrochemical preservative (however it's minimal risk). Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate is a synthetic detergent with very little information about it available. You would also want to be careful not to swallow the toothpaste, as potassium nitrate can be harmful if ingested in larger quantities.

As far as xylitol is concerned, its benefits to teeth are many and side effects few. If eaten in too large a quantity it can cause gas and bloating, but the small amount used in a toothpaste or mouthwash wouldn't be enough to cause a problem.

Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you Stephanie for all you wonderful info and suggestions to help us stay away from harmful chemicals :)
However, as a dog owner I don't like having anything xylitol in my house. This is because it's poisonous to dogs it can kill then even if small amounts are eaten. I am aware that it's a human toothpaste but you can never be too careful when you have a curious puppy running around.
To read more about xylitol and its effects on dogs here are some links I have found.
or you can google xylitol and dogs to get more info.
Now, that being said, if you don't have any dogs around then it should be fine. But please be aware of the dangers if you're a dog owner :)
Hope this helps :)

casey said...

What do you think of Soleo sunscreen?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

@Casey--It actually looks good!