Summer has arrived and while we look forward to spending time outdoors, working in our gardens, and going on vacation, extended sun exposure can wreak havoc on our skin. While we are familiar with our main lines of defense against sun exposure (proper hydration, quality sunscreen, light clothing, and avoiding the sun during the hottest part of the day) sometimes it is necessary to go that extra step to plan ahead to protect ourselves from UV rays. This can be done quickly and with ease. Consider adding 2 things to your summer skincare routine.
Summer Skincare Essentials
Hydrosols are the therapeutic and medicinal waters produced during the process of steam distillation. Hydrosols could be considered the homeopathic version of the essential oil produced during distillation. The best hydrosols are obtained from distilling fresh plant material, not dried. The highest quality hydrosols are achieved when the distillation is specifically performed to produce the hydrosols, not as a by product of the steam distillation of an essential oil. These aromatic and medicinal waters are a great option for quick and easy skincare nourishment. They can be used individually, or blended together with other hydrosols to create a custom blend for your specific skin type. Hydrosols can be used safely with children, elderly or infirmed and even for pets, without negative side effects, due to their gentle therapeutic nature.
A few Hydrosol options to consider for cooling & soothing inflamed skin include:
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)- Lavender is well-known for its skin loving effects. It is not only gentle on the skin and appropriate for all skin types, but helps to cool the skin and soothe the discomfort from sunburns.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)- Cucumber is well-known for its cooling, refreshing, and hydrating benefits. We put slices on our eyes and in our water so it will come to no surprise that it is a favorite choice for summer skincare.
- German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)- German Chamomile is a well know anti-inflammatory. This therapeutic benefit makes it great for sunburn relief.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)- Yarrow is another great anti-inflammatory. This combined with its cooling properties will be a great benefit to tired, inflamed, and scorched skin.
Tips: Hydrosols should be kept refrigerated. If you want to take them with you while you are at the beach, on a hike, or at the ball field, consider putting them in a smaller spray bottle for single use. If you are packing a lunch or cold drinks, toss your hydrosol in a food storage bag with a small ice pack and place in your cooler or lunch bag. Also, if you wear a cooling neckerchief during the summer months, consider saturating your neckerchief with hydrosols.
If you're looking for a trusted, quality company to purchase your hydrosols from, these are two of the Institute's favorites:
2. Fresh Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe, origins from the Arabian Peninsula but growing wild in tropical climates, cultivated for medicinal uses. Aloe vera gel (inner flesh) contains bioactive compounds, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. Antioxidants belong to a large family of substances known as polyphenols. Polyphenols, along with the many other constituents in Aloe vera, have been shown to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause skin infections.
Sun exposure increases visible signs of aging. Evidence has shown that topical application of Aloe vera gel can help reduce these signs of aging in our skin. One study of 30 women over the age of 45, topical application of aloe vera gel is shown to increase collagen production, while improving skin elasticity over a period of 12 weeks. An additional study revealed that Aloe vera gel reduced erythema, redness of the skin due to inflammation, such as over exposure to UV sun-rays. A review of 4 experiential studies found that Aloe vera has the ability to reduce the healing time of burns by around 9 days, in comparison to allopathic treatments. Making Aloe vera the most beneficial treatment for sunburns, hastening the healing and nourishing of UV exposed skin. After a long hike or a hard day of work in the yard, nothing feels better than being able to use this cooling leg gel, to sooth your skin and refresh tired muscles, so you are ready for your next summer adventure.
Cooling Leg Gel
1oz Aloe Vera gel
1/2 tsp Arrowroot powder
4 drop Sweet Orange
3 drops Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
3 drops Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
2 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
4 drops Balsam Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis)
Directions: Mix aloe vera gel and arrowroot powder until thoroughly combined (Using a wire wisk). Add essential oils, lightly wisk. Pour into a 1 oz container. Best dispensed with a lotion or treatment pump-top bottle. Discard any unused portion after 24 hours.
Note: As this is an aqueous (water-based) product that lacks a preservative, it is essential to store it in cool temperatures and discard any unused portion within 24 hours.
Safety Considerations: Do not apply to broken skin. Do not apply to children under age 6. Pregnant or nursing Mothers or elderly/ infirmed. Avoid use if you have a history of cardiac fibrillation. Individuals with G6PD enzyme deficiency advised to avoid products containing peppermint essential oil.
Skin Soothing Repair Gel
2oz Aloe Vera gel
4 drops Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) essential oil
5 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
4 drops Spearmint (Mentha spicata) essential oil
4 drops Balsam Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis) essential oil
Directions: Mix aloe vera gel and essential oils until thoroughly combined. Best dispensed with a lotion or treatment pump-top bottle.
Note: As this is an aqueous (water-based) product that lacks a preservative, it is essential to store it in cool temperatures and discard any unused portion within 24 hours. *This blend is NOT appropriate for sun poisoning. If you are experiencing symptoms of sun poisoning, please consult a medical professional.
Safety Considerations: Do not apply to broken skin. Keep out of reach of children under the age of 6. Omit Spearmint essential oil for use on children under 6.
Want to learn more about Hydrosols? Check out our blog, Understanding Hydrosols & Their Role In Aromatherapy
Essential Oil Safety – Second Edition By: Robert Tisserand and Robert Young
Monographs – Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatherapy
The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy – Second Edition By: Salvatore Battaglia