This week's featured sponsor is Butterbean Sunscreen. Summer, the creator of Butterbean, makes sunscreen, bug spray, and lip balm that's safe for the littles (and us big people too!). I've been using her sunscreen and bugspray for a few weeks now, and, I must say, I'm a bit smitten! Summer was recently nice enough to answer the following questions from me.
Me: I've struggled to find sunscreen that I feel good about putting on my little guy's skin. When faced with the same problem in your family, you decided to begin making your own. Tell us a little bit about the process of going from making batches of sunscreen for your own family to making skin care products as a business.
Summer: When I first started making sunscreen, I handed it out to all my friends to try on the condition that they would give me feedback! I think personal experience goes a long way in making a good product. The overwhelmingly positive response by the people within my own little microcosm made me think that perhaps others would be interested in an alternative as well. I think the atmosphere for local, organic, and artisanal products is ripe right now as people realize that the best way to get a quality product is to know the first name of the person who makes it! The trend of using our purchasing power to benefit small and local is definitely a step in the right direction! I have a passion toward families and healthy living, so I felt like a business where I could directly follow my bliss was a good path for me. I have 4 children and life can get pretty hectic. Having a small business is a way that I can maintain my own identity while still being present and available to my family. I still get so excited when I walk into a shop that carries my sunscreen. I love being connected to the community in this way.
Me: When I opened my canister of your sunscreen, the smell was heaven. Tell us about the ingredients that make it so wonderful.
Summer: I think the greatest thing about my products is the ingredients. I use the very best ingredients from the most reputable suppliers. My coconut oil is certified organic, fair trade and raw (which preserves the beneficial components). The Shea butter is certified organic and sourced through a company in VT. The owners go to Africa to buy Shea from the local women. This ensures fair wages and conditions as well as understanding the process from start to finish. My favorite is the beeswax. I just love the guy who sells it to me. Anyone who can speak bee has got to be pretty intuitive and have a big heart. The beeswax smells like warm liquid flowers, and what the bees have been eating determines the color of the wax (as well as the color of the sunscreen). Sometimes it is creamy white and sometimes it looks like eggnog! My apricot kernel oil is free of chemicals, and my vitamin E is from a company that makes a pledge against GMO’s. I have enjoyed learning about essential oils and aromatherapy (thought I still have lots to learn). The essential oils I use in the bug spray and lip balm are 100% pure and steam distilled. I love how each aroma is targeted for specific health benefits. I have also been pleased with finding an organic source for Neem oil as this is one of the key ingredients in Bug-a-boo. One of the things that sets Butterbean apart is the high quality ingredients. I use in my business exactly what I use for my own family.
Me: Since you're from the south, I assume you deal with your share of mosquitoes. Here, we can't even go for an after dinner walk without bug spray. I've tried natural bug spray before, but it's always so oily. Yours is nice and light. How many experimental recipes did you have to try before hitting on just the right combination of ingredients?
Summer: Oh yes, we have mosquitos as big as bees in my backyard. Those sultry southern evenings can be miserable without some sort of protection from pests. My first few trial bug repellants were too weak. My husband laughed as mosquitos landed on the nozzle of the bug spray bottle! After that, I discovered Neem oil and fell in love. When combined with the essential oils, this formula was able to keep the bugs away without becoming a people repellant as wellJ I use Apricot Kernel oil in my sunscreen and bug spray. I read a lot about different carrier oils and liked how Apricot Kernel oil was described as being a light moisturizer that was non-greasy. Figuring out the essential oil combination was important to me. I wanted to make sure the oils were safe for children. I read a lot of good things about Lemon Eucalyptus, but found it can be toxic so it is not recommended for young children. I love when my kiddos friends come over and ask to use my products. To me, that is the highest compliment! I am glad to give them something that is not only effective, but safe as well.
Me: In addition to the bug spray, which is new this year, you've also started making and selling lip balm. Are there any other products that you have simmering away to possibly produce in the future?
Summer: It is funny that you ask, Meryl. I just started thinking about working on a moisturizing cream! Nights of not getting enough sleep and early mornings with kiddos are a reminder that mama’s skin needs some babying too! I am also interested in a sunscreen stick for the face that would be quick and easy to apply. Is there anything you would like to see in the future?
Summer has generously agreed to giveaway one 7 ounce sunscreen and one gift pack (1 lip balm, 1 bug spray, and a 3 ounce sunscreen). To win, leave a comment about your favorite summer-y or beach-y spot. I'll choose a winner on Wednesday.