How to Choose a Safer Sunscreen

Warm weather is finally here! That means many days spent outside under the sun. Before you spread that sunscreen all over yourself and your family, you will want to make sure the products you’re using are both safe and effective. Nearly 75 percent of the more than 1,350 products tested in the Environmental Working Group’s “Sunscreen Guide for 2016” were found unsafe, ineffective or both. While this is a bit alarming, there are plenty of nontoxic sun products out there! Here’s what to look for and keep in mind when choosing a safer sunscreen:   Choose sunscreens that are “mineral” sunscreens. These typically include ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which create a physical barrier to protect the skin from the sun. They also protect the skin from harmful UVA radiation.   Avoid using chemical sunscreens that use one or more of the following chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. These chemicals are known endocrine/hormone disruptors and may interfere with thyroid and other hormone processes. So be sure to especially avoid these sunscreens if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or applying to a child.   Avoid sunscreen with vitamin A. Applying vitamin A on your skin may cause tumors and lesions to develop sooner. So, steer clear of any skin or lip product whose label includes retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A.   While spray sunscreens are super convenient for kids, these are most likely chemical-based sunscreens. When the sunscreen is sprayed, toxic particles can be breathed in and the health effects are still unknown. They may also contain flammable ingredients, making them hazardous for young children.   With any sunscreen,... read more

Do’s and Don’ts of Prenatal Massages

Let’s face it. Carrying all of that extra weight during pregnancy can be rough on the body! If you’re looking to relieve the extra soreness and stressed muscles, then prenatal massage therapy could be perfect for you. Prenatal massages can be extremely beneficial in helping with: Lowering anxiety Decreasing back, leg, and shoulder pain Reducing swelling Improving sleep Decreasing levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine To make sure you have a safe, comfortable experience, keep in mind our do’s and don’ts of prenatal massage: Do: Wait until your second or third trimester to begin massage therapy. Do: Ask for a massage therapist who is experienced and certified in prenatal massage techniques. Do: Lie on your side with a wedge or body pillow between your legs or on your belly if there’s a special table/chair with a hollowed-out area and special pillows. Do: Drink lots of H2O before AND after your massage to ensure you stay properly hydrated. Do: Point out your trouble areas and where you’d like your masseuse to focus on. Don’t: Get a deep-tissue massage on the legs, since this type of massage can put a pregnant woman at risk of dislodging blood clots in the lower legs. Don’t: Put a lot of pressure on the abdomen. To be on the very safe side, just avoid massaging this area. Don’t: Try a prenatal massage before getting clearance from your doctor, especially if you’re having a high-risk pregnancy.... read more

How to Naturally Treat Acne During Pregnancy

There are a few lucky ladies whose skin will get that beautiful pregnancy “glow” during pregnancy. Then there’s the rest of us, whose hormones rage and cause us to breakout like we’re back in high school! Unfortunately, many common acne treatments are unsafe to use during pregnancy since the medicine enters your bloodstream and can harm the developing fetus. For instance, you should avoid using: Accutane, retinol, oral tetracyclines and salicylic acid, to name a few. But, there are amazing natural alternatives available that are extremely effective yet are perfectly safe for your growing baby! Here are some of our favorite natural, acne-fighting ingredients: Tea Tree Oil Tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, which grows in Australia. Tea tree oil is known to have antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties so it has the ability to kill bacteria that causes inflammation and acne. Witch Hazel Witch Hazel is a natural and gentle astringent with cleansing properties. Witch hazel can help tighten the appearance of pores so it’s great for taming acne. Rosewater Rose water is a mixture of essential oils from rose petals suspended in water. It controls excess oil, which leads to fewer breakouts. Also, it can actually fade away acne scars due to its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. Activated Charcoal While you wouldn’t immediately associate charcoal with healthy skin, it actually pulls out oil, dirt and other harmful toxins from clogged pores due to its adsorption powers. You can often find it in soaps or masks. Chamomile Chamomile is a natural antiseptic with calming properties. It helps reduce the appearance of redness in the... read more

5 Favorite Exercises During Pregnancy

Just because you’re carrying new life in your belly doesn’t mean you can no longer keep up an active lifestyle. In fact, there’s lots of effective, safe exercises you can do while pregnant! Plus, keeping active during pregnancy is beneficial for both mom and baby. Mom may experience an easier labor and delivery, more energy, fewer aches, and a quicker recovery postpartum. Baby may have a healthier heart and brain, as well as a tendency toward a healthier lifestyle. Here are our five favorite exercises to do while pregnant:   Yoga Yoga is known for relieving stress and pressure on your body. Most forms of yoga will be safe for you and your baby, and there are even prenatal classes that will be specially catered to your changing body’s needs. Prenatal yoga also focuses heavily on helpful breathing techniques to use while in labor. Another side benefit of prenatal yoga is that it’s a great way to bond with fellow pregnant mamas in your community!   Barre The workout itself is low impact (if there’s any impact at all), and can be modified during all stages of pregnancy to keep your body healthy, strong, and flexible during your pregnancy journey. It’s also a good exercise to continue postpartum, as it lengthens and tones the body.   Swimming This is an extremely safe, low-impact workout. Swimming is easy on your joints yet will get that blood pumping without overheating. You’ll just need to get over the whole being pregnant in a swimsuit thing ;)   Indoor Cycling With indoor cycling, there’s less stress on your body since the bike is... read more

5 Health Benefits of Gardening

In honor of Earth Day fast approaching, we wanted to share with you five amazing health benefits of gardening. Working in the yard will often make you break a sweat, but there are also some unexpected benefits for your body and wellbeing. So go ahead and get your hands dirty and give back to old Mother Nature!   Reduces Stress In a Dutch study, participants performed a stressful activity and then were assigned either 30 minutes of gardening or reading indoors.  While both activities reduced stress, gardening had a significantly bigger impact on mood and lowering cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. Also, since it reduces your stress and anxiety levels, you’ll be able to fall asleep easier, alleviating any sleep problems.   Decreases Risk of Heart + Lifestyle Diseases A Stockholm study proved that consistent gardening cuts stroke and heart attack risk by up to 30% for those over 60 years old! And since gardening keeps you active while reducing your stress levels, it can also help prevent diabetes, obesity, and other associated lifestyle diseases. BONUS: Eating your fruits of labor is nutritious too!   Sharpens Your Mind According to a long-term study, daily gardening is the single biggest risk reduction for dementia! Gardening involves so many of our critical functions that its benefits are likely to represent a synthesis of various aspects and therefore can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s.   Makes You Happy For anyone battling depression, gardening is something to definitely add to your daily routine. Horticultural therapy is on the rise because of its proven results for patients with depression and other mental illnesses. The... read more

Our Top Eco-friendly Baby & Mom Items

All parents want the best for their baby, and our top eco-friendly finds make it easy. Whether you spend a little or a lot, the choices below will give you and your baby a healthy start while giving back to mother nature.   Crib Sheets Your baby is going to spend A LOT of time in her crib. You’ll want to make sure the crib sheets you choose aren’t made with any synthetic fibers that could irritate your baby’s skin and affect her breathing. Your little one will love sleeping on Little Unicorn cotton muslin crib sheets. They are made out of 100% cotton muslin and get softer with each wash. Plus, there are so many cute prints to choose from!   Onesies Your newborn’s skin is so sensitive and delicate. You want to make sure that what you’re dressing your baby in is not only sweet looking but made out of comfortable 100% organic cotton. We love the quality and reliability of Burt’s Bees Baby onesies.   Teethers Plastic teethers can contain BPA, PVC, phthalates and even lead if they are from China. So instead of reaching for a plastic or gel one, you should look for teethers made of unpainted wood, 100% natural rubber, organic cotton and silicone. Check out Finn + Emma’s adorable teething ears.   Pacifier Natursutten’s toxic-free baby products, like this pacifier, are made from pure natural rubber from the Hevea brasiliensis tree – aka there’s no BPA or phthalates. There are various nipple sizes and shapes so you can choose what’s best for your baby.   Baby Wrap Babywearing is such an easy... read more

5 Natural Ways to Boost Milk Supply

Breastfeeding is super rewarding but it is also a lot of hard work! On top of being exhausted you may find that your milk production isn’t quite where it should be. Don’t give up just yet! Here are five natural methods to help boost your milk supply so that there’s one less thing on your plate to worry about. Herbal galatagogue Galata-what?! This is the name for an herbal substance that has properties to increase milk supply. The most popular is fenugreek, which is often used in teas. Fenugreek stimulates sweat glands - milk ducts actually operate and function the same as sweat glands. Mothers generally notice an increase in production 24-72 hours after starting the herb, but it can take two weeks for others to see a change. Unfortunately while it usually works well, most women do not like the taste. Check out our tasty nursing tea here Lose the binky/pacifier When your very young baby spends time sucking on a pacifier, it is time lost on stimulating your milk production. While it’s difficult those early months to constantly be attached to your baby, it really is the best thing to soothe and nurture them while keeping your supply up. Eat oatmeal Oats are a milk-making miracle food. While it has yet to be proven exactly what about oats causes a spike in milk production, it’s a fact for many women that a bowl of oats in the morning means full breasts at night. Granola, oatmeal cookies, or an oatmeal-based muffin work too! Water Water is an essential aspect of ensuring you will have an adequate milk supply. It... read more

Harmful Ingredients in Household Products

Here at Anna Naturals we strive to change the perception of natural products being less effective than regular, synthetic options. If you’re ready to start swapping out your cosmetics, skincare and under-the-sink products then let us help you out! Here’s a starter list of harmful ingredients, why to avoid them and some helpful tips for alternatives! As you then work on replacing all the items you tossed, you’ll find that many companies are slowly moving to becoming more transparent…and you can always count on us for leaving out all that toxic crap in our products! Parabens: (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others): These preservatives are used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine/hormone disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Found in: face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, deodorant/antiperspirant Tips for avoiding: Look for products that contain only natural preservatives like essential oils, extracts and vitamins.   Sulfates: You’ll likely see this listed as either SLS or SLES. These can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation, which is used to process other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath, hand soap Tips for avoiding: Many shampoos are now being more clearly marketed as sulfate-free. But it’s still best to buy any type of wash that is purely organic and natural.   Fragrances: This is a catchall ingredient that is often an engineered scent that may contain any combination of 3,000+ stock chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are... read more

Beginner’s Guide to Oil Cleansing

    You may or may not have heard about the benefits of cleansing your face with oil, but this natural cleansing method is becoming very popular amidst the chemical-ridden cleansers on the market today. It may seem counter-intuitive to add an oil cleanser to your skincare routine if you already have oily skin, but it goes back to the basic principle of “like dissolves like”. Using natural oils will help to balance the oil in your skin, dissolve oil trapped in pores, and maintain enough moisture that your skin isn’t overproducing oil. Now that we’ve established how oil cleansing works, let’s talk about how to actually do it and what oils are best for each skin type. Cleansing the skin with oil is a two part process. First, apply about a quarter sized amount of oil to a dry face and massage in a circular motion for two minutes. Then, place a washcloth under very hot running water, ring it out and place it over your face for one minute. Gently wipe the oil away when finished. It’s important to note that when starting an oil cleansing routine you may go through an adjustment period where your skin gets a little bit worse. This is completely normal, and will resolve itself within a few days (for some stubborn skin types it could take up to a week). So, what type of oil is right for you? Most oil cleansers start with a castor oil base. This is because castor oil is a natural astringent and will help in the cleansing process. What oil you choose to pair (or simply... read more

How to Blend Essential Oils

  Essential oils, when used properly, can do so many amazing things. From healing to happiness, cleaning to calming…essential oil blends are turned to for natural remedies all the time. What you may not know, though, is that there is some science behind creating essential oil blends. A science that is crucial to creating a blend that is not only effective, but pleasant and balanced as well. The four parts of an essential oil blend are the personifier, the enhancer, the equalizer, and the modifier. Together, these four characteristics will combine to create a well-balanced, enjoyable blend. Let’s break each part down and learn a little more about their importance: 1-5% = Personifier: The first oils added to your blend. These are the strongest, longest lasting oils and should be the dominant therapeutic benefit. 50-80% = Enhancer: The next element to add to your blend, making up the majority of the finished product. Not quite as strong as personifiers, these oils should still have a hearty scent but not overpower your personifiers. 10-15% = Equalizer: Next you will add even more subtle oils, ones that have a shorter duration so they won’t last as long as the previous two. The purpose here is to create balance and synergy between all the oils used. 5-8% = Modifier: The final addition should be very subtle and short lived. These oils are meant to create harmony throughout and leave your entire blend consistent and pleasant. When making your own blends, it’s important to follow the steps above so that you end up with a harmonious blend where all the oils work with one another - rather than against.... read more

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Pregnant? Download our Pregnancy Yoga Guide for tips and moves you can use during each trimester of your pregnancy.