The creator of Soapwalla, Rachel Winard, has so graciously provided the following tips and DIY recipes for battling summer skin woes. Her product line, Soapwalla is one of my absolute favorites so I know you’ll appreciate her bountiful knowledge – Enjoy!
It’s officially summer! That means lazy days, walks on the beach, drippy ice cream cones and blueberry-stained fingertips, as well as the accompanying – and annoying — bug bites, rashes, and sunburns. Luckily, the most effective remedies for the itchier side of summer can be found in your kitchen cupboards!
Think of the recipes below as your natural summer first-aid kit! (Please test any new ingredient on the inside of your wrist to ensure you don’t have a sensitivity or allergic reaction.)
Bites and stings cause localized skin irritation, generally due to the insect venom that remains under the skin. If you or someone close to you has general swelling and/or difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately. This can be a life-threatening reaction and should not be taken lightly.
For the more common itchy, painful bite or sting, try the following:
- Blend a handful of cilantro with a small amount of water (2-4 Tbs). Strain the pulp and apply directly to the affected area and let sit for a few minutes. The cilantro pacifies itching.*
- For stings: mix equal parts baking soda and water to make a smooth paste. Apply directly to the bite, and let sit until completely dry. Baking soda helps neutralize the venom in the sting.
- A drop of tea tree oil on the bite or sting will disinfect the area and help prevent infection.
DIY Insect Repellent
To avoid bites in the first place, whip up this super easy and effective DIY insect repellent. This is gentle enough to be used daily, and can be reapplied as needed:
- ½ cup jojoba oil, sweet almond oil or even olive oil from your kitchen
- 10 drops each of the following essential oils: lemongrass, geranium, citronella, rosemary
- 5 drops each of the following essential oils: eucalyptus, cedar
- The oil from two Vitamin E capsules
Pour all the above in a clean and completely dry spritzer bottle, shake vigorously and let sit for 2-4 hours before use. Shake before each use, then spritz and massage into arms, legs, etc.**
Treatment varies on type, location, and duration of rash. However, the below is a set of general guidelines and tips. If a rash lingers or is accompanied by fever, nausea or increased pain, please see a doctor.
- Hike through a nettle forest? These suckers can hurt, are nearly invisible, and scratching only makes things worse. The quickest, easiest and cheapest cure: lightly rub mud onto the affected area (you can use French green, kaolin, or red Moroccan clay mixed with water or milk, or simply grab some mud from your backyard – as long as it hasn’t been treated with pesticides). Let dry completely, then gently wash off. The mud draws out the stingers, leaving you with much happier skin!
- Apply neem oil directly onto hives, contact dermatitis, or eczema breakouts. Neem oil can be purchased from your local Indian grocery, or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
- Try an oat bath: blend ½ cup oats in blender or food processor until finely ground (you can substitute oat flour to save a step). Pour into running bath water, mixing with your hand to dissolve large clumps. Soak for at least 15 minutes, then gently pat dry. For localized treatment, make a paste with oat flour and water, packing it onto the rash and gently removing with tepid water after 15 minutes.
A sunburn is an acute inflammation of the skin cells because of overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Sunburnt skin may blister and peel, both of which are painful and distracting.
- Pure aloe vera gel (no preservatives) or even better, the inner gel and juice from a piece of freshly cut aloe vera, can instantly ease heat and itching. Make sure to avoid the yellow sap that sometimes seeps from freshly cut aloe; use only the clear gel and liquid. Cold aloe vera (stored in the fridge) packs a greater pain-relieving punch.
- Sunburns are severely dehydrating; make sure to drink lots of water as well as coconut water, which has high concentrations of potassium and electrolytes.
- Coconut oil effectively soothes burnt areas. Massage lightly into the burn directly after bathing.
- Create a healing spray by mixing 1 cup pure distilled water plus 15 drops each lavender and blue chamomile essential oils. Store in a mist bottle, shake and spray directly onto sunburned areas to relieve inflammation.**
- Add 2 cups apple cider vinegar to tepid bath water and soak for 15 minutes. Make sure you use high quality vinegar with no added chemicals or preservatives – I’m partial to Braggs’. You can also use cool vinegar compresses placed directly on particularly burnt areas.
Rachel Winard is the Brooklyn-based creator of Soapwalla, a line of luxury organic face and body products made with the highest quality organic and food-grade ingredients, never questionable additives such as sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens or harsh and synthetic additives.
*Dr. Vasant Lad, The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies.
**Basis of recipe courtesy of Organic Body Care Recipes, Stephanie Tourles