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Jul 8, 2014 2:38 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Amagansett Mother Aims To Protect Children's Skin With Her Own Sunblock

Jul 8, 2014 5:16 PM

When Kristen Peterson moved to the Hamptons a few years ago, she spent quite a lot of time at the beach with her children, Stella and Baeke. But she said after repeatedly applying sunscreens that caused her daughters’ skin to break out, the Amagansett mother decided to create her own line of sun care products that she felt would be safer for her kids.

In 2011, Ms. Peterson founded babyhampton, a line of chemical-free, all-natural sunscreen lotion and sticks containing organic ingredients that are geared toward children but safe to use on anyone.

Ms. Peterson put babyhampton on the market in 2012, and she said business has been booming ever since.

“There was a limited market at the time,” she said. “It grows every year [now].”

Ms. Peterson said she learned about the issue of chemicals in sunscreen from Stella’s doctor, to whom she took the now-6-year-old after she broke out. Ms. Peterson said the rash was the result of oxybenzone, a common ingredient found in sunscreens that is actually known to be an endocrine disruptor, especially in children. She said she made sure to keep that component out of her products.

Ms. Peterson said babyhampton is gentle for babies and young kids because its primary ingredient is zinc oxide, which is also found in diaper creams. Zinc oxide prevents rash breakouts and also is not absorbed into the bloodstream, unlike oxybenzone, she said, an organic compound used in many products, including sunscreen lotion.

Combined with organic olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, and green tea and rosehip oils, zinc oxide “provides full broad-range spectrum protection,” she maintains, adding that she uses babyhampton on herself as well.

“The chemicals are irritants,” the babyhampton founder said of those in mainstream sunscreens. “They can actually damage the skin instead of protect it.”

With her product, by contrast, butters and oils moisturize the skin at the same time that it protects it, she said.

More recently, Ms. Peterson released a combination shampoo and body wash for children that contains organic aloe, thyme, sage, acai berry, chamomile and rosemary extracts. All babyhampton products are fragrance-free and hypo-allergenic.

They can be found at surf shops and pharmacies on the East End, as well as in children’s boutiques throughout Manhattan, and online at babyhampton.com.

With her line out for a couple of years already, Ms. Peterson said she hopes to educate people about sunscreen safety and purchasing products that are better for skin.

“It’s the safest thing to use for your whole family. It’s just gentle,” she said. “We can’t control everything in our environment, but we can control what products we buy.”

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