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Simple & Easy DIY Photo Booth

I have shared a few photo booth DIYs on the blog you can see here and here. But I feel like each time I host a grad party I do it a little differently, and try to tweak the process. This photo booth was super simple to put together and inexpensive too. 

I have borrowed in years past the structural part from a friend, with a heavy fabric liner as the backdrop which I then decorate. But this year I decided to check out how much a setup would be to permanently add to my party supplies. I was surprised to find that they weren't that expensive. The only thing missing that was crucial was the black fabric/liner which I rectified for a few dollars! Below is a list of all the items you'll need to make the above photo booth and prices (at time of posting). 

PhotoBooth Backdrop Supplies

  • Structural Backdrop- poles and sides to hold everything together- $34.99
  • Solid Black Tablecloths- you can pick up at your local party store as well, we just taped it at the top with gaffer's tape and no one knew it was a $3.50 plastic tablecloth. Depending on how wide your photo booth is, you may need two. I only needed 1. 
  • Black Fringe Curtain- for roughly $5.25, I ordered 3 of these black fringe curtains that you can order in varying colors. Again, we taped it to the top pole with black gaffer's tape. About $15 for all 3. 
  • Gold Star Hanging Decor- last but not least I ordered 4 of these gold star decorations, and then cut then in two because they were quite long. That gave us 8 hanging star lines to finish off the look. They are $1.99 a piece. Total for 4 about $8. 

Grand Total for this photo booth : $61.50 plus tax (free shipping for Amazon prime members)

I've collected props through the years for photo booths so didn't really need to buy much, but you can hit up your local party supply store or Amazon for props and hats. 

I also love using Build-A-Head for a fun oversize photo prop of the graduate. 

Happy photoboothing friends!!!

Our Family Joshua Tree Desert Photo Shoot

Woohoo! Finally getting to blog some of our favorites from our family photo shoot we did in the desert. I was going for a an airy, bohemian vibe that was reflective of the our location in Joshua Tree. This was planned out a little last second for me, I usually take a few months to decide on family photos, gathering outfits and location, deciding a date. So a few weeks to put this all together meant I couldn't overthink anything too much, which was actually ideal. 

We were taking a family road trip to Joshua Tree National Park and it fit smack dab between Gunnar's work days, during everyone's spring break. We desperately needed some time to regroup as a family, and you know how we love National Parks! 

I had asked one of my favorite photographers, Josh Elliott, if he had a free Thursday afternoon to work with us and low and behold everything fell into place! We loved our time in Joshua Tree and I promise you it felt like we had the entire park to ourselves this afternoon. Josh gave us some walkie talkies and we set off to find some ideal photo taking spots and I'm pretty sure we found the gold. Liquid sunset gold if you will. These are precious to me, and made for the most perfect 17 year anniversary a girl could ask for. We haven't taken family photos in about 4 years and wow how these kids have grown and changed. 

Greta's dress is from my girlfriend's shop, MinnieMi and both of us absolutely loved her in it. It fits her style to a tee, and was the most perfect option for family photos. Sooo well made, go check out other items in the shop, they're adorable!

My dress is from Nordstrom, and since I was in a pinch and zero time for shopping I ordered a dozen dresses all at once. I figured one had to fit right!? It took a little jerryrigging to make perfect, and a quick Amazon prime slip to go underneath it. I did forget my little tube top at home, but nothing a fast trip to the thrift store to cut up a lace top couldn't fix with some safety pins minutes before the shoot. Gunnar's outfit all came from Macy's, Sawyer's outfit we owned already, along with Aaron's. I've always been against the matching two tone color scheme, but I definitely wanted our colors to blend with the landscape. And I think we accomplished this.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about our photographer and how comfortable we all feel with him. Also, family photos get so much easier as kids get older! They do what you say! Lol. Just a few more...

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Would you believe me if I told you this is just a teeny fraction of all the images we have? I sift through and stare at them pretty much every day. If you're on the fence about family photos, don't be! They're treasures that I promise you will never regret having! These are worth more to me than anything else. xo

An Esthetician & Mom's Guide to Sunscreens Safe for Kids

I would say the #1 question I get from clients and friends with kids is 'Which sunscreens are safe for my kids?' So I figured I would put together a little guide to help sifting through the dozens and dozens of sunscreens that are on the market. Unfortunately, the majority of sunscreens are not safe, for anyone, especially your kids. And if you need further evidence on why to avoid dangerous sunscreens you can just google their ingredients, or read this article.

Plan Ahead

My first tip when buying sunscreen, plan ahead! Don't wait until you're running out to the beach and realize you're all out and will need to swing by the drugstore on your way. Chances are, you're limiting your possibilities down to a minimum. The photo above and below are all sunscreens currently in our home. I am stocking up for summer and a tropical vacation we have coming up. And not one was purchased at my local drugstore. It's a bummer that the drugstores where everyone seems to go to buy their sunscreens sell the worst ones on the market. 

Read the Labels

I cannot emphasize reading your labels and seeing what the active ingredients are. I have made the mistake in the past of seeing the words zinc or titanium oxide and just chucking it in my cart without turning the bottle over and checking for active ingredients. Just because it has a few safe ingredients does not mean that there are not harmful ones as well. 

EWG

Familiarize yourself with the EWG website! It is a lifesaver when it comes to researching sunscreens. From the home page, you'll click 'Consumer Guides', then scroll down to the sunscreen guide and click that. A sunscreen search box will come up and you can input the sunscreen you're researching. The lower the 1-10 rating, the better the product. I try to use only green ratings, 1 or 2 for the kids. This website will rate each ingredient in the sunscreen and their toxicity. It is shocking that 95% of the sunscreens on the shelf at your local market or drugstore rate a 10, toxic and dangerous. And we are talking about sunscreens for babies and kids! Here's a quick link to the worst scoring sunscreens for kids. Yikes! Run!

Get Used to Reapplication

Not gonna lie, safe sunscreens do not last as long as those chemical laden products where you spray on kids and don't have to reapply for hours. Most sunscreens safe for kids (and really all of us) don't last longer than 80 or so minutes. They can be water resistant, but need reapplication after an hour or so in the water. My kids generally don't swim hard for longer than 80 minutes and are in and out of the water taking snack and drink breaks, so reapplication works great for us. Yes, that means more product you are using, but you're also not disrupting your kids hormones and making them susceptible to cancer and other terrible side effects that some sunscreens have on our bodies. 

In Our Cabinets

Finally, the good stuff! Now I will share some sunscreens we have recently purchased and those we keep going back to again and again. All of these receive a 1 or 2 on the EWG safety rating. 

Blue Lizard Sensitive SPF 30- We have used Blue Lizard for years, and are still big fans. My local drugstore used to carry this line, but no longer. I pick up a large bottle on Amazon(great price per ounce) regularly and it's perfect for an extended beach or pool vacation, just one bottle to pack. It got a 1 rating on EWG. Beware of other similar sunscreens by this brand however. I only use the one I have linked because there are a few other 'sport' or differently named products by Blue Lizard that get a 4 rating. 

Badger- This brand is another old faithful sunscreen, and their sticks are fabulous too. Almost every Badger sunscreen gets a low, safe rating of 1. I believe only one got rated a 2. 

Honest Company- Great sunscreens, and usually you can find a good value on them too. On Amazon they have a two pack of SPF 50 going for less than $11, which is a steal for a 1 rated sunscreen. If you are insistent on using a spray, this brand has one that is rated a 3, not the best, but I have yet to find a spray mineral based sunscreen with a lower rating than 3. All the "natural" sunscreens that are spray application like Coola, Kiss My Face, Bare, Alba, none rate lower than a 3. So it's as good as it gets.

ThinkBaby- This is a new sunscreen that we are trying, so far it's great. It got extremely high customer reviews on Amazon, it's competitive in price, SPF 50, and rated a 1. All of the Think sunscreen line rated a 1 so you don't have to be concerned about getting only one specific product by this line. 

Rubber Ducky- I discovered this brand a few years ago and still love it. My preference is the tinted spf which is a 50, versus the untinted spf 30. The con to the tinted is that it is rated a 2 versus the untinted which is a 1. Also, the tinted will stain your clothing, however, it is the only sunscreen my kids ask me to apply. They love the tint and the feel of it, and they love the lack of chalky/white leftover, especially if they are on their way out the door to school. 

So there you have my guide to kids sunscreens. I hope it was informative for you. I would LOVE to know your favorite sunscreen for kids, I am constantly trying new ones and adding ones we love to our list. Please share in the comments so we all can benefit!

xo