To ward off sunburns: “I use coconut oil as a mild sunscreen,” Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder and CEO of Wellness Mama, shares on her blog (1). “It isn’t strong enough to use alone for all-day sun exposure but is a great everyday option for mild sun protection and skin health.” Emphasizing that last point, for adequate sun protection, popular options include zinc dioxide and/or titanium dioxide, which are physical blockers, meaning they do not create a chemical reaction with the skin; they simply form a barrier that helps to keep UV rays from penetrating. To help customers find the perfect chemical-free product for their needs (best for beach and sport; best kids; best moisturizing options) point them to EWG’s “Guide to Sunscreens” atwww.ewg.org/sunscreen(2).
...and to soothe skin if redness sets in: The experts at Healthline report that getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, and moisturizing skin can speed the healing process—and aloe can help. Aloe vera contains a substance called aloin that reduces inflammation. Aloe vera can also moisturize your skin and prevent peeling (3). Educational materials from Lily of the Desert point to its ability to cool and soothe the skin after prolonged sun exposure and to reduce the appearance of damaged skin. Lily says aloe can hydrate through three epidermal layers and helps drive nutrients into the deeper layers of the skin, which promotes epidermal health. Concentration matters, so check labels: “Studies have shown that a minimum of 30% concentration of aloe is necessary to receive the benefits of aloe” (4).
To ward off bugs: “Mosquitoes can smell you from up to 50 feet away,” reports Kari Warberg Block in “Everything You Need to Know to Survive Mosquito Madness” (5). “Luckily, there are many natural scents to repel mosquitoes. It’s widely known that mosquitoes don’t like the smell of citronella, but plants like Rosemary, Geranium, Marigolds, Basil, Lavender, Peppermint and Garlic are also all offensive to their sense of smell and will keep them away.” When it comes to sprays, she adds, “Finding the right repellent for you takes more thought than just grabbing the closest can of bug spray. You need to be sure the pesticides you use are, in fact, safe for your family.” She formulates her EarthKind brand with Picaridin, which is CDC recommended.
...and to calm the itch when buzzing pests do bite:“Wondering how to get rid of mosquito bites? People turn to witch hazel to reduce the effects of bug bites, such as pain and swelling from stings, allergies and irritations,” shares Jillian Levy, CHHC onDrAxe.com.“Certain studies have found that applying witch hazel cream to skin irritations can curb symptoms just as well as synthetic chemical creams, including dexpanthenol, which is often used to fight skin irritations in children.” Levy adds that witch hazel helps speed healing of minor cuts thanks to isopropyl alcohol, a natural disinfecting ingredient that works to kill bacteria and help prevent infections (6).
To protect against poison ivy: If there’s even a suspicion that skin has come into contact, acting fast can help. “Using Jewelweed soap after exposure has been shown to reduce poison ivy rash,” says Michelle Haff, N.D., with Lilac Natural Medicine. (7).
...and to ease irritation if exposed: Dr. Haff adds that the soap and topical jewelweed spray can continue to be used until the rash is gone. The team at Mama Jean’s Natural Market also point to jewelweed, “an herb best known for it’s skin healing properties [that] has been proven highly effective at treating poison oak and ivy rashes.” Also on their list for reducing plant-induced distress: products made with fresh herbal extracts of grindelia, plantain, licorice, andEchinacea angustifoliaroot, “all of which help soothe plant irritations” (8).WF