This summer is going to be different in how we interact, where we go, and also in the principles for keeping our skin healthy. Apart from the obvious (excessive hand washing), we are also dealing with changing climates and a challenging summer vacation schedule that’s forcing some of us to get outside in our own back yards (not so terrible). The outdoor environment can be challenging to navigate in terms of keeping our skin healthy, vibrant, and these challenges can be harder to overcome (and expensive) for those with senstitivities.
Nature typically gives back to us, and offers many natural remedies for our skin, we just need to learn how to use them. Let’s break it down and cover simple ways to help keep your skin looking / feeling healthy during summer without using overpriced, overcomplicated solutions:
1) The Basics
Cleanse, Exfoliate, Moisturize. Our skin is an organ, and therefore is constantly shifting, growing, and trying to adapt to it’s environment, but it just like any other organ, it requires certain conditions of care to stay healthy.
Being outdoors during the summer months our skin is exposed to dirt and bacteria that can clog our pores + humid air that causes sweat secretion. All of this adds up to a higher level of dirt on the surface of the skin that seeps into pores. What dirt isn’t absorbed by our bodies through our skin, sits in our pores and can cause redness, breakouts, acne, and irritation. Then add in the heavy pore-clogging sunscreens and bug repellant, being applied all day.
So what’s the simple process to prevent this irritation?
Step 1 - Cleanse.
We want to remove dirt and bacteria from the surface of the skin by using soap. High lathering soaps help remove bacteria and dirt through surfactants (Natural oils ability to make a surface slippery). This helps lift and wash away dirt with minimal effort. Look for natural soap bars or natural liquid soap, as generic body washes are typically full of synthetics, chemicals, and additives that aren’t safe for the body and become absorbed through the skin over time.
Step 2 - Exfoliate.
Sometimes cleansing just isn’t enough. That dirt or sunscreen can seep it’s way into the skins pores and clog them, preventing the pores from naturally breathing, which can lead to all kinds of irritation, as well as pre-mature aging. Using a light scrub, or soap bar with natural exfoliating properties (like with sea salt, sugar, or charcoal) a few times per week can help remove the excess dirt and clean out the pores, allowing them to breath. Exfoliation also helps with prevention of more chronic conditions like ezcema, rosacea, and acne that can be exacerbated by sweat, and other bacteria filling pores. Just as over-cleansing can dry skin out, over exfoliating can leaving skin feeling raw and irritated. It’s best to look for a natural exfoliant (mild acidic agent, salt, sugar, or charcoal), and avoid products with pore-removing chemicals or additives, unless prescribed by a dermatologist.
Step 3 - Moisturize.
Not only is moisturizing your skin a good idea daily, it’s impact increases whenever the skin is under stress. Big days in the sun, or out in humid weather can dry out the skin fast. Dry skin leads to pre-mature aging and other conditions like dry spots, flaking, and discolouration. When you’re in the sun or sweating, our skin is working to allow water and oxygen to pass through. As our skins nutrients depletes, we need to restore these nutrients in order to bring it back to a healthy equilibrium. Same rules apply as soap, look for a moisturizer that is natural without added chemicals, apply liberally after sun exposure, and add it to a daily routine, especially for locations that are exposed to the air often (face, hands, etc.).
There are many more factors to consider in skincare, but building strong, healthy skin naturally comes down to simple habits you can make a routine. Choose clean products, rinse and repeat.
If you’ve spent a summer in Canada, then you’ve spent a summer with Bugs. Unfortunately for most of our planet, where you find wilderness, peace, and solitude, you’ll also find these important parts of our environment and ecosystems. So, co-existing with these little guys means we have to adapt.
A lot of the success in repelling bugs comes down to scent. They are attracted to our bodies natural scent, as well as those from many of the popular artificial products consumers use. If you’ve ever entered the woods after shampooing your hair, or been the target of moistquitos at a back yard BBQ, you understand. And the problem with most bug sprays & creams is that they break the basic rules - They cover the skin, they can clog pores, they’re made with chemicals and synthetic additives, and many can dry out the skin if not washed away properly.
However, natural essential oils can help and are a great all-natural option that’s been used for centuries (rubbings flowers in the napes of necks). They can be infused into other skincare products (so you’re applying them already, incase you are one to forget bug-repellant), and are generally safer for sensitive skin. These are natural oils and are free of synthetic chemical properties found in many popular bug sprays. Because they are distilled, you only need a few drops, or look for natural skincare products containing / infused with specific essential oils bugs hate.
Some natural scents that bugs hate (in order of effectiveness):
If you’re heading out into the sun for any length of time uncovered, you’re going to want sunscreen. There’s no questioning the benefit and necessity of sunscreen, and applying it liberally when necessary. Although there are some great natural alternatives, most major sunscreens are thick creams with synthetic blockers. They’re effective but can be harsh on the skin over time. Just be sure to rinse off after a big day out and exfoliate to remove excess sunscreen from your pores.
Almost as important as blocking the suns rays, is aftercare. Proper moisturizing after a sunny day can help reduce inflammation, healing time, redness, and further damage by cooling the skins surface. Same rules apply here for sourcing, stick with natural. Especially important when considering a moisturizer, as your skin is going to absorb the oils through the skins surface. Also look for a moisturizer with an added anti-inflammatory like Aloe. Sea Kelp and Seaweed has been used for centuries as a natural aftersun for its high anti-inflammatory effect. Kelp contains so many important minerals and vitamins for replenishing the skins moisture levels, allowing it to heal faster, and prevent drying out damage.
Stick to these simple tips and your skin will thank you. Consistency is key, and buying natural products does go a long way for maintaining our skins health.