Back to school season is always crazy, but this year is just extra special thanks to Covid-19. While not all kiddos are heading back to school in person, many are and I think we are all hopeful that a regular school situation will happen sooner than later. But no matter what, things will look a little different and kids will benefit from adding a few special items to their backpacks. And the bonus is that all of these items can be used at home, too!

Before we dig in, I want to remind all of you that I wave my crunchy flag loud and proud! I’m a big fan of doing our best to protect and boost our immune systems without sacrificing safety or causing more harm than good. With the current state of the world, I believe we are under the very false impression that avoidance of all germs and bacteria is the goal. First of all, that will never happen! We cannot avoid everything, and we do not want that anyway. Which leads me to my second point — we need good bacteria to create a healthy microbiome in order to fight against the bad stuff that we are bound to encounter. It is imperative or we will destroy our natural immunity, so please remember that not all bacteria are bad. Oversantization is not the answer, even though we are inundated with demands for morehand sanitizer, Lysol, bleach, etc. I honestly believe this route will lead to even more illness and disease, especially autoimmune issues. So let’s do our best to practice good hygiene, protect our microbiomes, and boost our immune systems. It can be done, I promise.

Back to School Essentials for 2020

So these are my must-have items for a 2020 Back to School Survival Kit:


Although I do not think masks are as effective as we want them to be, they are a required item at most schools so there is really no sense in arguing about it! They are a part of life for many of our kiddos returning to the classrooms. If you’re still looking for a mask that’s comfortable AND doesn’t add to your skin issues, I highly recommend the Remedywear Washable Face Mask from Yoro Naturals. They are made with cotton TENCEL that is soft and cool to the skin, and zinc is actually embedded into the fabric which helps to fight bacteria and germs on the inside and outside of the mask. Plus the company is committed to sustainability and has 3rd party testing, both of which I believe are extremely important. Good news! The masks are available in kids and adult sizes and currently in stock. Use the code BETTER10 to save 10%. I bought two, so I can always have a clean one ready.

—>If you need some help treating skin issues as a result of wearing a mask for hours a day, check out this blogpost about how to deal with MASKNE!

Hand Soap

I know you’re thinking WHAT? Don’t they have hand soap in the bathrooms? Yes, of course they do. But they are usually cheap soaps that are bought in bulk — antibacterial soaps full of artificial fragrances. As I stated above, we don’t want to kill all the bacteria on our hands as it actually helps us to fight off the bad stuff.

And did you know that the word “fragrance” is a trade secret in the personal care industry? Companies are able to disguise an alarming amount of chemicals by listing this single ingredient. Unfortunately, these cryptic “fragrances” are largely linked to allergies (both food and environmental), skin issues, respiratory problems, hormone disruption and reproductive issues.Good old soap and water are extremely effective in killing the coronavirus, so stick with that. A great option is the travel hand soaps from Everyone — you can find them at places like Whole Foods, Target, and Sprouts.

—-> I’ve been carrying my own hand soap for years, so this isn’t new to my kids. I know they won’t always use the hand soap in their backpacks, but they know why it’s a better option and are willing to try!

Hand Sanitizer

I’m not anti-hand sanitizer, I’m just against using hand sanitizer when soap and water are available. I think of this stuff like I do with antibiotics. I don’t want to constantly be killing off bacteria on the skin because some is beneficial. It’s a natural defense our bodies possess, so the constant beat down can affect our innate defenses. Also, ethyl alcohol can negatively affect skin barrier function which can make it more permeable — meaning the bad stuff has an easier way of getting in.

There have been many articles circulating in recent months about the discovery of hand sanitizers with methanol, a toxic ingredient. It’s certainly not news to me that hand sanitizers can contain ingredients harmful to our health — many used to contain triclosan (now officially banned but still pops up in some due to minimal regulation) and you can often find fragrance, which I just addressed.

But safer hand sanitizers do exist, so grab one of those. My recommendation for cleaner hand sanitizer is by Dr. Brite Naturals. They are a B Corps that specializes in safer oral care products, and they have created hand sanitizer and surface wipes in the midst of this pandemic. You can get them in small pump bottles or even smaller tubes with clips to hook onto purses or backpacks (hello, 90s throwback to my Country Apple purse clip from Bath & Body Works!)

Sanitization Wipes and Hand Wipes

No need to repeat myself, I think you all know that we need healthy versions of sanitization and hand wipes. I recommend the sanitizer wipes from Dr. Brite Naturals to clean surfaces, and the hand sanitizer wipes by Everyone. Both of these fit into backpacks easily and are super effective!

Silver Gel

I always carry a tube of Nature’s Sunshine Silver Shield Rescue Gel in my purse and keep a few tubes in our house, but this is especially helpful for our skin in the coronavirus era. Silver is known in the natural health world for being antiviral, antibacterial, and anti fungal… a little powerhouse of healing and defense. Most people’s knowledge of silver traces back to that guy who made colloidal silver in his backyard and turned blue. The problem with this and earlier versions is that high amounts of silver were needed to be effective, and this possibly led to toxic levels in the body. However, advances in silver technology have resulted in a silver solution that can be used safely in an effective daily regimen. It takes approximately 2 to 6 minutes for silver to destroy 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, mold and other pathogens it contacts.

But despite the controversy associated with ingesting silver, topical application is widely accepted. Think of it as antibacterial gel, soap, and Neosporin mixed into one healthier option. My favorite use is to rub a bit on the nostrils during cold and flu season to battle those germs that we breathe in all the time, and it can also be used on the hands like a hand sanitizer.

—->But one additional bonus is that it’s great for the skin that is hiding underneath that mask — it helps with breakouts and any fungus/bacteria/staph that can grow in that hot and sticky space.  Click here for more info about Nature’s Sunshine Silver Shield Rescue Gel!

*Please do your own research on silver if you have any concerns. I can tell you that my entire family has used it for years with only positive results.

Xylitol Mints

Have you heard that a negative side effect of wearing masks is that it increases the risk of cavities? Womp womp. It’s not about the mask, but how we breathe when we wear them. We end up breathing through our mouths, which leads to dry mouth, which means less saliva, which means higher risk of cavities. Saliva is actually a natural way to keep our teeth healthy as it coats the teeth and prevents excessive dryness.

If you’ve never heard of xylitol before, it is a natural sugar alcohol that has less calories than sugar and does not raise blood sugar levels. You will see it in many oral care products and sugar free items, especially for diabetics. Xylitol basically starves the bad bacteria in your mouth. You can read more about it here.

So I grabbed these Zellie’s mints for my husband and son to take to school, since they will be wearing masks all day. They have different flavors and gum options as well. They’re really yummy, and I eat them regularly even when I’m not dealing with masks. Plus they help with bad breath that can come with dry mouth.

Lip Balm

As I stated above, wearing a mask lends to mouth breathing and dry mouth … and a byproduct of that is dry and chapped lips. But don’t reach for that Chapstick! Most lip balms are made with petroleum (the jelly comes from the leftovers of oil refining). And while that in itself is kind of alarming, it also doesn’t actually moisturize the lips. It gives the feeling of moisture, but it’s actually just creating a barrier or a seal over the lips like plastic wrap. In fact, Vaseline comes with an “external use only” label, meaning it is not intended to be absorbed into the skin. Thus begins the “Chapstick addiction”…. 
1. Lips are dry
2. Put on Chapstick
3. Lips temporarily feel moisturized but it doesn’t last
4. Go to Step 1

I recommend using lip balms that don’t have petroleum (or fragrance) but use natural ingredients. My favorite lip balm is by Primally Pure! Ingredients like tallow from grass-fed cows, coconut oil and shea butter deeply moisturize and heal chapped lips, and organic essential oils provide added benefits + flavors for your lips to enjoy. Only $4 and they come in 5 scents: Peppermint, Cocoa, Grapefruit, Lavender, and Creamsicle. And the plain white packaging is great for everyone! You can grab them here, and use the code AMANDA to get 10% off your first order!

Back to School Essentials for 2020

Ok guys, that’s all I have for now. As we creep our way into this school year, I’m sure I’ll be adding more items! But in the meantime, I hope you found some good recommendations that will work for you kiddos. Bonus — all of these things fit into a gallon-size ziplock! So assemble this 2020 Back to School Survival Kit , pop it in their backpacks, and feel good about keeping your kids as safe and healthy as possible.