Natural Summer Tool Kit
- Friday, 25 July 2008
Summertime has returned, bringing with it all the sun-soaked good times on the patio or in the backyard that you’ve waited for all winter long. Many of us will be out stocking up on organic fruits, veggies and meats to barbeque and add to those scrumptious summer salads and desserts.
But is there a way to incorporate all those natural and organic options into our summer personal care routine? Are there any summer products like sunscreen and bug repellent that are good for us and the environment? The answer is yes!
Tool #1 - Sunsreen
Recent studies have shown that a little bit of sun in moderation is important for Vitamin D absorption, helping to create healthy bones and skin while making us generally feel better. However, we also know that getting burnt like a lobster every weekend is probably not the best idea either, which makes sunscreen a necessary tool for your summer fun kit. While regular sunscreens can be filled with harmful petroleum and other chemicals such as Parsol, PABA, Octocrylene and Oxybenzone, the good news is that there are organic alternatives out there to protect you and your family. And I’m not talking about that white, pasty, total block-out zinc creams either!
Look for products that contain base ingredients such as natural oils (avocado, apricot kernel, almond, olive and rice bran) as well as floral hydrosols and organic aloe vera gels that sooth and protect your skin. It’s always good to look for one that is paraben free, too! The natural active ingredients you should be looking for in a sunscreen are: Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. At the proper concentrations, these provide the same SPF factors as chemical-based sunscreens and won’t make you white and pasty. Many natural sunscreens are available online or at your local health food stores. Just make sure to read the ingredients to check if they are really naturally made and do not contain a slew of other chemicals.
Tool #2 - Bug Repellent
Growing up in an area where mosquitoes loved to prosper, it was necessary to learn a thing or two about bug repellents. Just like sunscreens, there are many natural options that are available, either for direct purchase or that you can blend yourself to create a bug repellent that is both 100 per cent natural and keeps those pesky mosquitoes away.
Some of the most effective essential oils used to keep the bugs at bay are catnip, neem, citronella, calendula, peppermint, lemon, lemongrass and rosemary (the first three are the more effective ingredients if only one is used). These essential oils should not be used on your skin directly without dilution, as is the case with many essential oils. Look for products where the essential oils are diluted with floral hydrosols, purified water or added to an organic lotion bar base. Natural bug repellent are often available in non-aerosol sprays and solid sticks, so choose whatever form works best for you. Or, if you want to make your own bug repellent be sure to buy essential oils that are steam-distilled and, ideally, organic.
To make your own bug repellent, simply add 1-2 tsp of pure essential oils to 125ml of purified or distilled water in a spray bottle, then shake it up and mist. Those bugs won’t know what hit them!
Citronella candles are another popular bug repelling tool, and are fine if they don’t contain paraffin (a petroleum-based chemical). Paraffin wax emits smoke when burning that is toxic to both humans and the environment. So look for a soy wax based candle with pure essential oils, not fragrance/perfume oils.
Tool #3 - Water, Water, Water
Although we may not think that a water bottle directly affects our personal care, being adequately hydrated does. Proper hydration allows our bodies to maintain homeostasis – a fancy term for “in balance” and a naturally peaceful state. If our body tissues are even slightly dehydrated they are in distress, so make sure you are drinking enough fluids this summer when you’re out at the beach or in the backyard.
Recent research into the safety of plastic bottles found that certain chemicals can leach into beverages and increase the risk of certain disorders. Which means it is time to consider updating your stash of water bottles. Many companies now offer lightweight metal bottles that keep water or juice both chilled and free from chemicals.
When you consider just how bad buying bottled water every day can be for the environment, it only makes sense to buy safe, re-usable bottles and keep them filled, especially on that long drive home from the beach.
As you can see, there are many natural options for you to add to your summer tool kit!