We’re in the heat of the summer now, and while I love summer, it also comes with bug bites and sunburn! That’s no reason to stay inside, however. Especially not when there are many ways to create your own non-toxic sunscreen and bug sprays at home!
Why Natural Insect Repellent?
Mosquitoes and ticks transmit a number of illnesses like West Nile virus, Zika, and Lyme Disease. But DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), which is found in most drugstore bug sprays has risks all its own!
“We think that DEET and other chemical-based repellents should be used only if other, safer methods don’t work for you,” says Urvashi Rangan, director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center. (Source)
DEET causes skin reactions, eye irritation, and if used several days in a row or ingested, serious side effects have occurred like seizures, slurred speech and coma. Canada’s federal health department even says children 6 months to 12 years old should avoid products with more than 10% DEET.
No need to panic. There are many natural ways to create your own insect repellant!
Bug Spray Recipe
- 1 cup water (or white vinegar if the smell doesn’t bother you)
- 1 cup witch hazel
- 1 TBSP vodka or rubbing alcohol
- 10 drops citronella essential oil
- 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
Mix these ingredients in a glass spray bottle—chemicals from plastic ones leech into the oils.
I recommend spraying this (and any) repellant on your clothes and gear instead of directly on the skin. Especially if you are going to be in direct sunlight as lemongrass essential oil causes sun sensitivity due to it’s citrus nature.
You can also place plants around your outdoor seating area that repel insects. Take a cue from the essential oils in the bug spray! Lemongrass, lavender, and peppermint plants are all good options.
Peppermint and ticks don’t mix. A few drops of peppermint essential oil can help keep ticks from being attracted to you, so keep it handy if you are going to be in a wooded area.
What to Look for in Sunscreen
Some sun exposure can do a person good! It’s uplifting for the spirit and nourishing for the body, providing us with much needed vitamin D.
It’s equally important to protect yourself from the sun’s rays too though! We all know the risks with prolonged exposure linked to skin damage and aging increased risk for skin cancer. (Source)
It’s so crucial to know what you’re putting on your body when choosing sunscreens. After all, it’s something you put on a large part of your body in several layers. It is often inhaled, and many sunscreens contain “penetration enhancers,” which means the chemicals can be absorbed into the body more easily. (Source)
Thankfully, there are natural ways to protect yourself from the sun.
Some essential oils have naturally occurring SPF. These ingredients are considered low SPF and generally quoted at these levels:
- Almond Oil- SPF around 5.
- Coconut Oil– SPF 4-6.
- Zinc Oxide SPF 2-20 depending on how much is used.
- Red Raspberry Seed Oil SPF 25-50.
- Carrot Seed Oil – SPF 35-40.
- Shea Butter – SPF 4-6
This DIY sunscreen recipe comes from my friend and colleague Dr. Josh Axe!
- 10 drops lavender
- 1 tbsp pomegranate oil
- 3/4 C coconut oil
- 2 tbsp Zinc Oxide
- 2 tbsp shea butter
- Glass Jar
- Combine all ingredients except zinc oxide in a jar.
- Place a saucepan with 2 inches of water on stove over medium/low heat.
- Place jar in saucepan and stir contents until ingredients start to melt.
- Once all ingredients are combined, add in zinc oxide and stir well. Store in a cool place.
Use this sunscreen in addition to staying out of sunlight during peak hours and wearing protective clothing and sunglasses. You can have your sun and stay protected too!
Remember to always use pure, pharmaceutical grade essential oils on your body. I have been using Young Living Essential Oils for years and years and love their quality and effectiveness. Here’s to a happy and healthy summer!