How to Keep Your Beach Blanket Babies Safe

June 18th, 2012

The summer winds are just about to blow on in! Woo-hoo!

As we gear up for more time in the great outdoors, our focus shifts to keeping our little rays of sunshine safe.

Summer staple numero uno: Sunscreen, of course.

But how do we know which way to go when it comes to choosing the best, safest and most effective sun protection? What SPF do we need? Do the all-natural kinds really work? Are the conventional (read: chemical) ones really that harmful?

We asked the sunny folks at MelanSol 100% Natural Skincare to shine the light on what we need to know to ensure our families are safe and sound all season long.


  • Most popular children’s sunscreens have been found to contain higher levels of harmful chemicals and chemical active ingredients than many adult sunscreens. Check this out for further proof.
  • Many chemical active ingredients used in sunscreen are hormone active—meaning they mimic the hormone estrogen. Two recent studies found traces of five chemical active ingredients in breast milk.
  • Double the sun protection factor (SPF) does not mean double the protection from UV rays. It only increases the concentration of hormone active ingredients.
  • Baby sunscreen sprays, made with chemical active ingredients, synthetic preservatives and fragrances, might be convenient but the ingredients pose a danger if breathed in, ingested or sprayed into a baby’s eyes.
  • The “active ingredients” are located at the top of every sunscreen’s back label. There are two types of active ingredients: chemical and physical. The vast majority of sunscreens you will find use chemical active ingredients. These active ingredients use a chemical reaction of energy and filter sunlight by absorbing a percentage of UV rays on your skin. Sunscreens relying on these ingredients must be applied in advance of entering sunlight because they require 20 to 30 minutes to become fully active enough to begin protecting your skin.
  • Physical active ingredients are physical or natural in nature and filter sunlight by reflecting a percentage of UV rays away from your skin. There are only two physical active ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Though the quality of these ingredients can vary, they are safer and easier to use than chemical active ingredients.
  • The “inactive ingredients” are the remaining ingredients that make up the sunscreen formula. Chemical sunscreen brands are made with chemical stabilizers, synthetic preservatives, colorings, fragrances, alcohols, glycols, parabens, etc. If you don’t immediately recognize the ingredients on the label, then do not buy the sunscreen. Period. Your family’s health is at stake.
  • Find an all-natural sunscreen brand. All-natural sunscreens represent the smallest portion of the sunscreen market because they are made with non-chemical ingredients.
  • Look for a 100% all-natural sunscreen that has been certified by the Natural Products Association (NPA). When a sunscreen carries the NPA Certification Seal, you know that each ingredient (and the way each ingredient has been processed) has been examined to ensure that no chemicals have been involved in any way. Only three sunscreen brands have currently been certified by the NPA. All MelanSol® 100% Natural Skin Care products have been NPA-certified, including our 100% Natural Sunscreen for Baby, which provides complete broad spectrum protection from potentially damaging UVA and UVB rays.
  • Look for sunscreen that uses antioxidants in combination with natural (physical) active ingredients. A 2003 university study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, concluded that traditional sunscreens needed to also include natural plant-based antioxidants in order to be effective against UV skin damage. Safe and healthy, MelanSol’s top-quality protection sports a triple antioxidant formula, which includes vitamin E and green tea extract, that boosts the body’s natural sunburn protection.


The mission of MelanSol 100% Natural Skincare is to reveal, expose, enlighten, offer uncompromisingly safe, healthy, effective and protective chemical-free skin care, and give some of every purchase to unique non-profits that enable others to live a better quality of life.
With a mission like that, you know you’re in good hands.
It’s not about being hiding your kids from the sunshine; it’s about getting them outside to play—but doing it safely so they (and you!) can have more fun in the sun.
To learn sun-thing more about how to keep your beach blanket babies safe, go to

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight:

August 4th, 2011

Ready to feel like a natural woman?

Then you’ll be singing the praises of

Founded and run by Marie Swan Black, a beauty biz veteran, scours the marketplace for the latest and greatest in organic skincare and bath and body.

The result is a best-of beauty shop that delivers on the gorgeous, inside and out.

Here, Marie talks about how her industry has evolved since she opened her first skin care office in 1998, the beauty of self-transformation and why organic is a must.

THE FAMILY GROOVE: Why did you start Acorn Body Care?

Marie Swan Black: I opened my first skin care office in Portland in 1998 out of my passion for helping people with their skin concerns.


TFG: What’s the significance behind the word acorn?

MSB: This is three-fold answer. 1.) The word acorn is indicative of personal transformation. I often include a quote in my emails that sums it up by Thomas Mann, “Genius can be bounded in a nut shell and yet embrace the whole fullness of life.” 2.) James Hillman’s book, The Soul’s Code, discusses his Acorn Theory at length. It is about growing into your own personal mythology. 3.) It also has personal significance for me since the main tree in my back yard as a child was a mighty oak. I used to play with my dog and watch her chase the squirrels eating the acorns.

TFG: You’ve been in the online organic beauty business for 11 years now. How has the industry evolved?

MSB: There has been significant growth in cosmeceutical approaches to advanced delivery systems for antioxidants, peptides and cutting-edge ingredients that have only just begun to spill over into the organic market. There is also a lot more competition with huge sellers with thousands of products on their sites. Many of these are owned by very large household brands that would love to shut down smaller, family owned companies. Competing with these giants is daunting, which is why I must be completely confident with the product lines I carry.

TFG: How has your business evolved?

MSB: My business changes as I find new things of interest. Customers help greatly when they let me know what they are looking for and what is effective for them. I stock products that have the best benefit for my customers.

TFG: Why is organic skin care a must?

MSB: We are exposed to so many chemicals in our lives. Skin is the largest organ on our bodies and it needs to remain healthy in order to protect us. When I first became an esthetician in 1996 we were not allowed to say that products “penetrate” the skin. Now science tells us that skin is indeed a porous membrane. It simply makes no sense to douse ourselves with more chemicals than we are already exposed to. These chemicals are in 99% of all grocery, drug and department store “skin care” products available.

TFG: What lines or products are you loving right now?

MSB: I love all the brands on the website. We absolutely do not sell what we would not recommend to our loved ones, including our grandmothers, children, and best friends!

TFG: Tell us about Acorn Organica Esthetics, your skin care treatment center.

MSB: I opened this treatment center in the summer of 2010. I chose a location that is closer to my house, across from a leading natural foods store and in a loft of what used to be a bank. I chose the space for its size and industrial-like feel, of which I have always been a fan. I changed the name from Acorn Body Care, my last clinic that was in NW Portland from 1998 to 2009, to reflect the focus on organics and skin care.

TFG: What is your proudest moment as a business owner?

MSB: I know that my customers look to my site to help them narrow the seemingly endless sea of so-called “natural” products. We help make what can be a profoundly confusing process of selection easier since we have hands on experience with our featured lines. We take the guesswork out of buying organic and natural skin care products. I also love knowing that I have changed some people’s lives for the better.

TFG: What exciting things are on the horizon?

MSB: I am very excited about a handful of products that I am developing at the moment. I will also be launching a second website with a niche that I won’t disclose just yet. Stay tuned . . .

For more natural beauty, go to

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Outta Sight Site Spotlight:

February 22nd, 2011

One of the coolest things to come from the Internet (well, you know, other than revolutions and Justin Bieber) is the democratization of women-owned businesses.

Women helping women (whether by patronizing each others’ businesses, carving new pathways in niche industries, succeeding in new and enlightened ways or just providing new products, new ideas, inspiration and need-to-know-now information) is really the final stage of feminism—and it is glorious to witness.


And, as an aside, it’s pretty dang special to be a part of it all.

Jeanne Kissman is one such woman in business. She’s inspiring women to take better care of themselves—sans chemicals, thank you very much—and serving as a shining example of following and living in one’s own bliss. Her passion for her Plum Hill, a line of all-natural body care products that she started in 2005 by accident (got to love that green light theory of the universe: when things are right they just go, go, go!), is palpable.

Here, she talks about the wonder of watching her beloved line go from being used by her friends to being featured at the 82nd Academy Awards’ gifting event, her favorite Plum Hill product and the new ones she’s recently launched (FYI: Do not miss the Tamanu Oil—it’s like magic!).

THE FAMILY GROOVE: Why did you start your business?

Jeanne Kissman: Plum Hill was never intended to be a business—just a hobby. I made products solely based on the need for relieving dry skin for family, friends, co-workers and myself. In May of 2005, as demand grew for a product that was effective and affordable so did the business concept for Plum Hill. Coming from a pacific climate then to Salt Lake City, UT, and ending up in Eagle, ID, I wanted a product that really worked and that wasn’t outrageously expensive. After years of research, trial and error and tons of individual feedback sixyears later Plum Hill has grown leaps and bounds from being featured at the 82nd Academy Awards to a TV spotlight and magazine articles.

TFG: Tell us about the name.

JK: I have always loved the color eggplant, and at the time our family was living in an old remodeled farmhouse on a hill at the time it just seemed like the perfect name. Eggplant and sage are Plum Hill’s signature colors.

TFG: Your tagline is “Be your own kind of Beautiful.” How does that motto influence your products—or vice versa?

JK: Being your own kind of beautiful for me is that you have to feel and look beautiful not only on the outside but on the inside as well, it is YOU that counts. Through Plum Hill products, I try to empower people to feel better about themselves by providing a product they feel good about using everyday.

TFG: Your body care line is all-natural, paraben- and cruelty-free. Why is it so important to choose natural skincare?

JK: Why add ingredients that don’t need to be there to be effective. Just remember what you put on your skin absorbs into your body. I personally don’t use products that have ingredients that I can’t pronounce. I also believe it is important to know what you are putting on your body as well as in your body.

TFG: What’s your favorite product in your line?

JK: That’s a tough one. Every product in my line I formulated to the needs and request of customers for dry skin. I would say every single product in my line is my favorite, but one product that I can’t live without is the Sugar Body Scrub.

TFG: What’s your proudest moment as a business owner?

JK: I have a couple proud moments. The first being when my customers come up to me say “thank you” for making such a fantastic product that really works. Then, of course, it was when Plum Hill was featured at the 82nd Academy Awards last year. Getting to know and help Cloris Leachman, Gil Marinin (from Dancing with the Stars) and models from Dolce and Gabbana find the right skin care product from my line, was a very proud moment for Plum Hill.

TFG: What’s new for 2011?

JK: This year, 2011, is going to be great year for Plum Hill. The first being that the prices will remain the same. Plum Hill launched three new products in 2010, including our 100% Pure Tamanu Oil, our Nourishing Body Crèmes. After returing from the 82nd Academy Awards, we added the same gift set that the celebrities received. It’s a great way to try our products.

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Bringing Sultry Back

January 5th, 2011

Here we are spending a ton of money each week at Whole Foods to eat only organic foods, banning plastic bottles from our lives, canceling conventional pest control services, wedding out any chemmed-up weed killer, recycling up a storm, replacing conventional light bulbs with LEDs, etc. etc.—so why have so many of us not totally greened our skincare.

Skin, your biggest organ, is the first line of defense against, well, against just about everything so why do we continue to flood it with harmful chemicals? (And by the way, a site that you must bookmark and visit is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.)

All of the above is why are have—and are very proud of—the Green Beauty & Skincare section in our Shop TFG. Seriously folks, it’s a new year and it’s time to green your beauty routine.

Enter: Sultry Naturals.

This all-natural skincare site takes beauty back to the basics by using vegetable oils (not animal fats), high quality essential oils to scent their products and botanicals, minerals, spices and clays to color their products.

No junk, no hidden ingredients, no green washing here—just good old transparent green. Check out their ingredients here.

Members of the Handcrafted Soapmaker’s Guild and American Botanical Council, Sultry Naturals offers its handmade soaps (natural, organic and baby), body oil, body lotion and more.

With the goal of really helping you love the skin you’re in by helping you care for it with only the best Mother-Nature-made products and, at the same time, protecting Mother Nature herself, Sultry Naturals is taking bath and body to a whole new (and much more meaningful) level of beautiful.

To green your (self) cleaning routine, go to

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