With all the sun and heat we’ve been having these past few weeks, it’s important to make sure we take care of our skin and protect it against the damaging (and painful) effects of the sun and also pesky insects. I think by now we are well schooled in the dangers of too much sun exposure to our skin in terms of skin cancer, and of course we know that to keep our skin young and perky, minimizing sun is important. But preserving our skin in the summer doesn’t mean we have to slather our skin with a bevy of toxic products; there are plenty of natural products and methods we can use to keep our summer skin healthy while not adding toxins to our bodies or the environment.
Safe & Sunny
Many sunscreens that are marketed for everyday use and every occasion in the summer may actually contain some toxins in there that we would not want on our skin and in our systems. Sometimes, these commercial sunscreens rarely even protect us properly from sun damage.
Of course, the best way to block out the sun besides creams and lotions (that can put nasty chemicals onto our skin) is to stay in the shade or wear sun-protective clothing, like a hat or a shirt. But what most people don’t know is that a regular cotton shirt only has a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of around 5. And, to boot, sun-protective clothing may not be the most stylish clothing for a Green Diva’s wardrobe.
That’s why there’s Mott 50, a fashion-forward apparel company whose garments all have a UPF of 50 and are all about being smart in the sun without sacrificing style. Their clothing line is endorsed by the Skin Cancer Foundation and also meets the standards of the IUVTL (International UV Testing Laboratory) and the AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists). Their clothes are easy-to-wear and are made in soft, lightweight fabrics, so protection from the sun doesn’t have to look or feel like a burden to your body. When it comes to natural sun protection, what’s better than getting the ultimate protection with the minimal amount of chemicals onto your skin – all the while looking like a stylin green diva or green dude?
If you’re not on the market for a new wardrobe and prefer to stick to sunscreen, the Environmental Working Group has a great, comprehensive list of the best sunscreens that are rated for their broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and for their use of hazardous chemicals. According to their Summer 2012 Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens rating, if you’re going to buy commercial products, some of the highest-ranking brands (that won’t break the bank) are Badger, Elemental Herbs, Karen’s Botanicals, Loving Naturals, Thinksport, and Purple Prairie Botanicals. These brands all got an EWG rating of 1 (the highest), meaning they rate well when it comes to UVB/UVA protection, UVA/UVB balance, sunscreen stability, and health concern – all at the lowest prices. Try Loving Naturals’ SPF 30+ Sunscreen – it’s 100% natural, vegan, water resistant, and safe for babies. When it comes to sun protection, not all sunscreens are made the same, so the Environmental Working Group is here to help!
for more green diva info on why we should choose natural skincare and for DIY skincare product recipes . . .
Repel Those Pests Naturally
Many commercial insect repellents contain chemicals that can be toxic to humans when they are not washed off the skin after a few hours or if they are by accidently ingested, such as the powerful repellent DEET. There are some more natural ways to ward off the mosquitos, wasps and other summer critters that don’t require as many chemicals.
Put your clothes on! - For starters, a great way to repel bugs from your skin is to wear clothing at dusk (when the bugs are out in full force!) that provides a lot of cover, like a long-sleeve shirt or pants.
Citronella – Then there is always a good old citronella candle or citronella incense, which may not be the most effective insect repellents on the market but do mean no chemicals are applied to the skin.
Make your own, Naturally! If you’re looking for a contact repellent for the skin, there are a few DIY recipes for natural, plant-based repellents that are non-toxic but do need to be used still in safe quantities. These recipes use what are called essential oils mixed with an alcohol or a ‘carrier oil’ to dilute the essential oils so they’re safely applied to the skin.
Some of the best essential oils said to repel insects are:
- lemon eucalyptus oil
- cinnamon oil
- rosemary oil
- neem oil
- geranium oil
Some carrier oils or alcohols that can be used to dilute the essential oils are:
- olive oil
- sunflower oil
- witch hazel
- grain alcohol (such as vodka!)
DIY Natural Bug Repellent Recipe
Make your own bug repellent natural solutions, and reapply it frequently (every hour or so, or after swimming/exercising) and you should repel bugs effectively without harmful chemicals! Here is a sample recipe using the apparent most potent essential oil, lemon eucalyptus oil:
2 tablespoons grain alcohol
2 tablespoons olive oil
100-110 drops lemon eucalyptus oil
Add carrier liquids to a bottle (3-4 oz.). Leave room for shaking. Add essential oils. Shake well and apply to skin as necessary.
Be sure to test the mixture on your skin beforehand to make sure no allergic reaction occurs! Another tip: combining different essential oils together in one mixture may help prevent many different kinds of bug bites rather than just those pesky hot weather ones. The more essential oils (still fitting within that 100-110 drop range) will mean more varied protection.
Don’t let the summer sun, heat, and insects keep you from being outside, and don’t let common chemical brands keep you from it either! In either case, there are plenty of ways to go green when it comes to taking care of your skin for the summer – they may require a little extra effort, but your body will thank you for bidding goodbye to those harmful chemicals in everyday products.
woman in woods image via shutterstock